Chapter 9: Towards the Well-Researched Paper
Now that we have our central evidence (first storey) and our initial interpretation of that evidence (second storey), it is time to move on to the third storey. As you know from your close reading, the third storey can be tricky. In a nutshell, the third storey deals with the significance of our first and second storeys. We have identified some key evidence and presented an interpretation of that evidence, but to tie everything together, we need to explain why our interpretation is important.
In order to do so, we need to connect our interpretation of specific evidence to the larger implications of that interpretation. The impulse to go broad, not narrow, will be satisfied in the third storey, with one caveat: the fact that we’re dealing with larger implications doesn’t mean we can forget about our evidence. The third storey needs to be connected firmly to the first and second.
In this type of essay, the content of the third storey will necessarily vary depending on the kind of approach the writer has taken to the evidence. Perhaps the third storey will provide the solution to a problem raised in the second storey, or an observation that this problem has no solution (and why). Perhaps the argument in the second storey will lead to a surprising realization about the meaning of the evidence in relation to the larger issue it represents. The third storey should, in a way, be satisfying: not broad and simple, but a revelation that will demonstrate that the thinking we have done in this essay provides insight into the issue we are exploring.
To move towards the third storey, look at the second storey and ask:
- What is the significance of the conclusions you have drawn from the evidence?
- Why does your second storey matter? Why is it important that you have interpreted the evidence in this way?
- How do the specific observations and argument you have made connect to the larger issue you are discussing?
- What does your second storey reveal?
If we look back at the second storey about Occupy Wall St.’s Facebook page, we can begin formulating possible answers to these questions. It’s important to note that the third storey we come up with at this point will not be the final version. We have not yet taken our secondary research into account, and we have a lot more work to do with our primary evidence as well. As we work at analyzing our evidence and applying secondary ideas to it, the thesis will inevitably change, becoming more complex and specific. However, even at this early stage, it’s important that we not take refuge in generalities. Our new third storey will be as complex and specific as we can make it.