You reach that end only by imagining and then meeting

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Chapter 4 / Exercise 165
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You reach that end only by imagining, and then meeting, the needs and expectations of others: you create a kind of transaction between you and your readers—what we like to call a rhetorical community. That’s why traditional forms and plans are more than empty vessels into which you pour your findings. Those forms have evolved to help writers see their ideas in the brighter light of their readers’ expectations and understanding. You will under- stand your own work better when you explicitly try to antici- pate your readers’ questions: How have you evaluated your evi- dence? Why do you think it is relevant? How do your claims add up? What ideas have you considered but rejected? How can you
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Chapter 4 / Exercise 165
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Thinking in Print 15 respond to your readers’ predictable questions, reservations, and ob- jections? All researchers can recall a moment when writing to meet their readers’ expectations revealed a flaw or a blunder, or even a great opportunity that escaped them in a first draft writ- ten for themselves. Traditional forms embody the shared practices and values of a research community, matters that contribute to the identity not only of that community but of each of its members. Whatever community you join, you’ll be expected to show that you under- stand its practices by reporting your research in ways that have evolved to communicate it. Once you know the standard forms, you’ll have a better idea about your particular community’s pre- dictable questions and understand better what its members care about, and why. But what counts as good work is the same in all of them, regardless of whether it is in the academic world or the world of government, commerce, or technology. If you learn to do research well now, you gain an immense advantage, regardless of the kind of research you will do later. 1.4 CONCLUSION Writing a research report is, finally, thinking in print, but think- ing from the point of view of your readers. When you write with others in mind, you give your ideas the critical attention they need and deserve. You disentangle them from your memories and wishes, so that you—and others—can explore, expand, com- bine, and understand them more fully. Thinking in written form for others can be more careful, more sustained, more attuned to those with different views—more thoughtful—than just about any other kind of thinking. You can, of course, choose the less demanding path: do just enough to satisfy your teacher. This book can help you do that. But you will shortchange yourself if you do. If instead you find a topic that you care about, ask a question that you want to answer, your project can have the fascination of a mystery whose solution rewards your efforts in finding it. Nothing contributes more to a successful research project than your commitment to it.
16 r e s e a r c h , r e s e a r c h e r s , a n d r e a d e r s We wish we could tell you how to balance your belief in the worth of your project with the need to accommodate the demands of teachers and colleagues, but we cannot. If you believe in what

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