Eliminating “Talks About”
As mentioned more than once this semester, our goal in describing the material we encounter in reading, or in lectures, or in studying any subject matter, is to synthesize the new information with what we already know and create new meaning.
The methodology for that process is to reduce the new material to a purposeful summary that illustrates our version of the author’s (or lecturer’s or content provider’s) subject matter and claims.
In the assignment for your Proposal+5, I provided examples of how to describe your sources using such summaries. Most of you have incorporated those models in your own Proposals. For everyone, though, it may be useful to compare the model to its antithesis, which does not clearly identify the claims of the original but only names its topics.
The “Talks About” Version
- DO NOT SAY that your source “talks about,” or “deals with” a broad topic, or that it “provides background.”
- DO NOT SAY about all five of your sources that they “will give me necessary information to prove my thesis.” Such statements don’t help the reader understand the value of your source.
The Essential Content of the Article: This article talks about two men who had similar experiences with the justice system. They both want their cases reopened because they claim they’re innocent.
What it Proves: This article shows a major flaw in the justice system and I intend to expose this flaw with the help of this article as it offers a backstage pass into the world of criminology
The Purposeful Summary Version
- DO SUMMARIZE the specific subject matter relevant to the needs of your particular hypothesis. In this case, the sad situation of prosecutors failing to reopen cases for which new exculpatory evidence is available.
- DO SPECIFY the use to which you plan to put the evidence of the new source, in this case that it provides good examples of unjustifiable prosecutorial behavior.
The Essential Content of the Article: This article focuses on two men, one of which is in prison for a rape he insists he did not commit, and the other who says DNA evidence would prove he was falsely convicted of a double murder. The article states that prosecutors often resist reopening cases despite the fact that the reinstitution of a closed case could potentially free an innocent person from prison.
What it Proves: My thesis is that prosecutors fail to examine or fully credit evidence that could exonerate suspects. Since this article is entirely focused on the lengths that prosecutors go in order to step around the idea of reopening a case to do further DNA testing, it provides me with good examples of questionable prosecutor behavior. Quite often, law enforcers are content with placing a person in prison and to them, a person in jail is a win whether they are innocent or not. This obviously is a major flaw in the justice system and I intend to expose this flaw with the help of this article as it offers a backstage pass into the world of criminology.