In this chapter, the discussion is about how to perform actual engaged research as opposed to writing a generic regurgitation of facts from researched sources. The point that is argued is that a research report is much less involved than a research paper. In fact, the author, Ballenger, admits that a research report is easier to write than a research paper. This is because a report does not usually involve any deep probing issues, but rather a “report” on the surface elements of any given issue.

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One surprising twist on the research paper is that there are three types of formats that one usually employs: one in which you prove what you already know, another where you are not sure what you know, and lastly another where you have a hunch about what is going on, and set out to prove or disprove it. This second form is the best research paper format, whereas research reports might use the other two formants.

Ballenger explains to the reader what the purpose of an essay is, derived from its root meaning: to try. Basically, one just needs to try out new ideas and questions. That is how one can be a part of the academic dialogue, the conversation that Ballenger says a research paper engages. However, Ballenger encourages writers from being restricted by academic formalities when writing research papers. He asserts this position because he feels that a research paper is part of a conversation and that the researcher should have a voice that is not obliterated by academic third person and so on.

Once researchers are informally engaged, there will be better research. As Ballenger comments, his first essay in philosophy did not seem to read like anything he wrote. This was because he wrote the paper at arm’s length. In order to not have arm’s length academics, researchers need be able to feel free to express their individuality into their papers.