Part 1, Listening Comprehension
Section A, Mini-Lecture
I think as seniors, you are often required by your instructors to do some library research on this topic or that. And, in the end, you have to write a research paper, right? Then what is writing a research paper like? How are we going to write one? What are the steps in producing a research paper and what are the points we need to take care of? In today's lecture, I'll try to answer these questions.
First of all, what is writing a research paper like? We may start by comparing it to an ordinary essay, a form of writing you are very familiar with. Writing a research paper is much like writing an essay. Both kinds of writing involve many of the same basic steps. That is, choosing a topic, asking questions to define and develop the topic, identifying the audience, getting raw material to work with, outlining the paper, writing it, and, finally, revising it. These are the steps shared between research paper writing and essay writing.
Is there any difference, you may ask. Yes. What makes a research paper different is that much of your raw material comes not from your own head, but from printed sources: mainly books and periodicals in the library. Collecting raw material, that is reading books and taking notes, is very much like the process of brainstorming at the prewriting stage of an ordinary essay.
Generally speaking, there are two basic types of research papers, and a paper may belong to either type. It may be a survey of facts and opinions available on a given topic or an analytical argument that uses those facts and opinions to prove a point. Your instructor may tell you which kind of paper you are expected to write. If not, you yourself should eventually choose between surveying and arguing. You will then have a definite way of managing your sources.
Now, let's take a look at how you are going to write a survey-type research paper or an argumentative research paper. In a survey-type research paper, you gather facts and a variety of opinions on a given topic. You make little attempt to interpret or evaluate what your sources say or to prove a particular point. Instead, through quotation, summary, and paraphrase, you try to provide a representative sampling of facts and opinions to give an objective report on your topic. You explain the pros and cons of various attitudes or opinions, but you don't side definitely with any one of them.
While in an argumentative research paper, you do considerably more. You do not simply quote, paraphrase, and summarize as you do in a survey-type paper. You interpret, question, compare, and judge the statements you cite. You explain why one opinion is sound and another is not; why one fact is relevant and another is not; why one writer is correct and another is mistaken. What's more, your purpose may vary with your topic. You may try to explain a situation to recommend a course of action, to reveal the solution to a problem, or to present and defend a particular interpretation of a historical event or a work of art. But whether the topic is space travel or trends in contemporary American literature, an argumentative research paper deals actively - I say it again, actively - with the statements it cites. It makes these statements work together in an argument that you create, that is, to an argument leading to a conclusion of your own.
In the next part of the lecture, I'd like to talk about one of the basic steps in writing I mentioned earlier in the lecture. That is how to choose a topic. Choosing a topic for a research paper is in some ways like choosing a topic for an ordinary essay, but there are some differences. As you think about your topic, ask yourself these questions:
Question number one: Do you really want to know more about this topic? This is the initial question you have to ask yourself, because research on any subject will keep you busy for weeks. You certainly do not wish to waste your time on something you have little interest in. You do it well only if you expect to learn something interesting or important in the process.
Question number tw Are you likely to find many sources of information on this topic? You cannot write a research paper without consulting a variety of sources. If only one source or none at all is readily available, you should rethink your topic or choose another.
Question number three: Can you cut the topic down to a manageable size? Be reasonable and realistic about what you can do in a short period, say, two to four weeks. If your topic is "The American Revolution", you'll scarcely have time to make a list of books on your subject, let alone read and analyze them. So try to find something specific, such as "The Role of Thomas Jefferson in the American Revolution" or "The Franco-American Alliance"
Question number four: What questions can you ask about the topic itself? Questions help you get the topic down to a manageable size, discover its possibilities, and find the goal of your research, that is, the specific problem you want to investigate. Suppose you want to write about the issue of financing a college education - A topic not only current, but also directly linked to the lives of most college students and their families. You could ask at least two or three pointed questions: How much does educational opportunity depend on financial status? Is financial aid going to the students who need it most? How much should universities and colleges charge their students? You can ask yourself these questions or more as you start work on the research paper.
Okay. To sum up, in today's lecture, we've looked at some of the issues in research paper writing, like the basic steps, types of research paper, and how to choose a topic. In our next lecture, we'll concentrate on how to identify the audience, how to work out an outline, and how to edit the draft.
Section B, Interview
M: Today, we've Professor McKay on our morning talk show. Good morning, Professor McKay.
W: Good morning.
M: I've heard that you and your team have just completed a report on old age.
W: That's right.
M: Could you tell me what your report is about?
W: Well, the report basically looks into the various beliefs that people hold about old age and tries to verify them.
M: And what do you think your report can achieve?
W: We hope that it will somehow help people to change their feelings about old age. The problem is that far too many of us believe that most old people are poor, lonely, and unhappy. As a result, we tend to find old people, as a group, unattractive. And this is very dangerous for our society.
M: But surely we cannot escape the fact that many old people are lonely and many are sick.
W: No, we can't. But we must also remember that the proportion of such people is no greater among the 60-70 age group than among the 50-60 age group.
M: In other words, there is no more mental illness, for example, among the 60s-70s than among the 50s-60s.
W: Right! And why should there be? Why should we expect people to suddenly change when they reach their 60th or 60th birthday any more than they did when they reached their 21st?
M: But one would expect there to be more physical illness among old people, surely.
W: Why should one expect this? After all, those people who reach the age of 65 or 70 are the strong among us. The weak die mainly in childhood, then in their 40s and 50s. Furthermore, by the time people reach 60 or 65, they have learned how to look after themselves. They keep warm, sleep regular hours, and eat sensibly. Of course, some old people do suffer from physical illnesses, but these do not suddenly develop on their 65th birthday. People who are healthy in middle age tend to be healthy in old age, just as one would expect.
M: Do you find that young people these days are not as concerned about their parents as their parents were about theirs?
W: We have found nothing that suggests that family feeling is either dying or dead. There do not appear to be large numbers of young people who are trying, for example, to have their dear old mother locked up in a mental hospital.
M: Don't many more parents live apart from their married children then used to be the case?
W: True, but this is because many more young families can afford to own their own homes these days than ever before. In other words, parents and their married children usually live in separate households because they prefer it that way, not because the children refuse to have mum and dad living with them.
M: Is this a good thing, do you think?
W: I think that it's an excellent arrangement. We all like to keep part of our lives private, even from those we love dearly. I certainly don't think that it's a sign of the increased loneliness of old age.
M: Are people's mental abilities affected by old age?
W: Certain changes do take place as we grow older, but this happens throughout life. These changes are very gradual and happen at different times with different people, but, in general, if you know a person well in his middle age and have seen how he deals with events and problems, you will easily recognize him in old age.
M: So that someone who enjoys new experiences, travel, education, and so on in his middle years will usually continue to do so into old age?
W: Exactly. We have carried out some very interesting experiments in which a group of people aged 60-70 and a group aged 30-40 had to learn the same things. The first thing we discovered was that the young group tends to be quicker at learning than the old group. However, although the old group took longer to learn, eventually, they performed as well as the young group. And when we tested the two groups several weeks later, there was again no difference between the two groups.
M: That's very interesting indeed. What else did your experiments show?
W: Well, one group of old people agreed to attend evening classes for a year to study English and mathematics. In fact, most of this group became so interested in their studies that they continued them for another year. Anyway, we discovered that they did best in the English classes and that most of them steadily improved their ability to communicate in both the written and the spoken language.
M: What about the group who studied mathematics?
W: Well, that's a different story. There seems to be no doubt that people find maths more difficult as they grow older. Though, why this is so, I cannot say.
M: Perhaps pocket calculators will solve this problem.
W: I think you're right. In fact, I'm sure that you are.
M: Okay. Time for a commercial. Stay tuned; we'll be right back.
Section C: News Items
M: Scientists in Brazil claim they've come up with a new way of treating burns. That is, with frog skin. Researchers say it is cheap and effective. The frog skin has components that diminish the growth of bacteria, making the wound heal faster and reducing the amount of time that patient has to stay in hospital. Researchers said the method had already been successfully used in some hospitals in Brazil.
W: Once a source of high-pitched business activity, Japan's karaoke industry has slowed down. Japanese have less to sing about amid sustained economic problems. Karaoke firms are now striving to develop new ideas to attract cost-conscious karaoke singers. These include a new, high-tech machine that allows people to sing like famous singers and theme rooms on some of the Asian cartoon figures targeted at younger crowds. The new karaoke machine is being developed by a professor from the US Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The machine uses a technology called C-Sound that automatically adjusts the speed and tone of any song being played to match the tempo and key the singer is using. The tempo can be adjusted manually on conventional karaoke machines, but the new product is the first machine to do it automatically.
M: The China Internet Network Information Center said this week that the nation's online community is expanding at a rapid pace, with 8.9 million users added in the first half of the year, from January to June. China's Internet population hit 68 million by the end of June, the world's second-largest figure after the United States. The figure was 10 million at the end of 2000 and 1.5 million in 1997. "Cyberspace is a force to be reckoned with in China," said Chen Hua Lin, a senior Internet analyst at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Netizens between the ages of 18 and 30 are the driving force. They spend 13 hours every week surfing the Internet, on average. Their major purpose is obtaining information or having fun. At the same time, only 0.2 percent listed online shopping, e-business, and online learning as their main activity. As the number of China's Internet users grows, so does the junk mail. 8.3 e-mails out of 16.