Chapter 9: Towards the Well-Researched Paper
THIRD STOREY: The Occupy Wall Street Facebook page’s tendency to strengthen local connections while potentially simplifying and weakening links to larger social and political contexts with inflammatory language acts as an indicator that despite the increased reach of an online community, the divisive discussions among its users are likely to affect its ability to influence governmental policy and provide a base for civilian power. Users who wish to turn the Internet into an effective tool for providing a counterpoint to corrupt, dictatorial, or simply misguided governments will need to address this simplification and attempt to ensure that the broad reach of the social-media platform does not replace the broadness in scope of the movement itself.
Our second storey digs deeply into the material at hand and examines some of the effects of how it works. Our third storey is what we get when we then ask, “And…?” All of this information is interesting, but if we stop with our second storey, we’re asking our readers to draw conclusions from our observations. Instead, we must move towards some understanding of what our observations mean.
Paragraph 9: Draw conclusions from your evidence as it relates to the page itself. Moving on from the idea of “usefulness” in paragraph 8, discuss what “use” the comments have (they allow users to connect over local issues) and what “use” they fail to have (they de-emphasize larger issues, which are obscured by the localization of user concerns).
Paragraph 10: In light of this concept, return to the idea of social media as an influencer of government policy. Is there a disconnect? What does it mean? Does this disconnect seem rooted in the structure of the page, the identities of the users, the culture that has formed around this particular form of social media, or something else? How do you know? And…?
Paragraph 11: Zoom in on a possible reason for the disconnect: the tendency of social media’s reach to reveal the rhetoric being used within in-groups. Turn this, potentially, into a call to action regarding future use of social media in social and political activism.
Research-Related Considerations: While it’s unlikely you will introduce new research at this point, you may use this section to return to some of the research you have cited previously to emphasize its significance or repeat it in light of the more complex conclusions you have reached.
Here we have circled back to the larger question without losing sight of our specific evidence. We have also uncovered some unexpected issues along the way, including the seemingly contradictory observation that broad reach does not necessarily equal broad effect. As we move through our second and third storeys, we need to delve beneath the surface instead of latching onto the first easy answer and repeating it in every paragraph.