To tell the story of any journey, a literal trip or a figurative one, you need to talk about where you started. Now that you have your research question, you need to record your thoughts, ideas, beliefs and other questions right now, before you start to do any research. This is your 'starting point.'
Your starting point is the beginning of your research log.
Open a new document and title it 'Research Log.' Put your question in your log. Refer again to the section titled 'Formulating a Starting Point' on pages 149-150 (Ramage et al.). Write your starting point in your log. If you don't have much to write, go to the description of the Exploratory Essay on page 148 and read the second sentence. Do some free writing or use some other brainstorming technique to explore the ideas raised in that sentence. Use what you learn to formulate your starting point.
NOTE: Your brainstorming is not your starting point; from your brainstorming, you must write your starting point. Your starting point ends with a clear statement about what you will try to find out first, as you begin your research process.
The word 'dialectic' comes from the same root as the word 'dialogue.' A dialogue is a discussion between two people. A good, interesting dialogue contains different points of view, different angles of vision. The dialectic process is the heart of your Exploratory Research Paper. You must bring in varying points of view.
For an example of how this is done, read the essay "Should the United States Establish Mandatory Public Service for Young Adults?" in Ramage et al., pages 160-164. Now post your answer to question 3 on page 165.
The dialectic process involves the critical thinking skills of analyzing and synthesizing ideas. You practiced analysis and synthesis in the Summary and Strong Response exercises and assignment. Now read Chapter 12 (Ramage, et al.) for further guidance.
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