All your life, you will be a consumer. A consumer is someone who purchases goods and/or services. Smart consumers research their purchases before spending their money to be sure they are using their financial resources well. In this project, you will research something, which will be a great investment for you, making a good decision about a major purchase for you or your family. For your project, you will select a potential major purchase you think your family may be considering soon and do the research it takes to make a good decision.A typical major purpose for a family with a son or daughter your age is a car. In the examples for this assignment, we will write about steps involved in researching a car purchase. You are welcome to follow these steps exactly, but you may also adapt these steps to any purchase you want to research instead of a car. You may be planning to buy audio equipment, a big screen TV, a computer, or any of a number of major purchases, and doing your research as a part of this assignment will help you make the right decision as you learn.Steps in Successful ResearchThese research steps are not absolute. In some projects you do in the future, steps might be skipped; in others, they will need to be repeated. For this project, though, you must do all the steps in this process in order.WARNING: Your teacher will not accept any final draft that has not first gone through every step in this process!I. Purpose and AudienceAs in all writing, you have to begin with these two key questions: why am I doing this, and to whom will I communicate the results?PurposeTruly understanding what you need to accomplish will help you make good decisions. You will better understand what information you need from your research, and, more importantly, you will understand what information you do not need. (When you do your research, you will find much more information that will not help you than information that will help you.) Here is an important warning, though. If your purpose can be stated as ‘I want to prove that XYZ is true,’ then you are in trouble immediately, because you are prejudiced–you already think you know the answer before you do the research. This will lead you to make mistakes. In the case of a car purchase, your goal will be to find out what the best possible purchase for a person in your situation will be. If you start your research already believing that a certain car is the best, you are likely to overlook or misinterpret evidence that says the opposite.AudienceTo whom are you writing? In a class like this, the teacher is an artificial audience. Nowhere in real life do people write to a teacher. What is the difference? An authentic audience is focused on your message and how effectively you present it. If they are convinced by your work, they will do something as a result. A teacher is likely looking at your writing skills and not paying nearly as much attention to the argument in a real sense. For a car purchase, your probable audience is your parents–you will need to convince them that the car you have selected is the best one.II. Topic Focusing and PreparationMost students start with topics that are too big for effective research. If they truly researched the topics they started with, they would need to research for years and produce a very thick book. You should therefore begin all research by narrowing your focus to a reasonable range. Here are some focusing questions you would ask in purchasing a car.What is my price range?New car or used?If used, how old can it be?Are any particular types preferred or excluded? (sedans, convertibles, sport cars, SUV’s, etc.)How important is fuel economy and other costs of ownership?As a result of these questions, you might decide that you are going to research only reliable used sedans or coupes no more than six years old with a price range of $5,000-$8,000. By doing this, you will not waste any time researching cars that do not fit that description. This is your narrowed, or focused, topic.As you begin to do research, you will find more focusing questions. For example, if you later find that certain models have very poor repair records, you may want to eliminate them. You may also decide that you need to change your price range or make another adjustment.PreparationThe next thing you need to do is determine what you need to know. You won’t know all of this before you start, so this will change as you do your research. Here are some possible questions you may want to answer if you are purchasing a car.What are some important things to know when looking for a car?How can I tell if a car’s asking price is reasonable?What kinds of features are important?What kinds of cars exist in my price range and with my other requirements?Which models have the best safety record?Which models will require the most gas?Which models will need the most repairs? Written Assignment: Research Proposals and Plan. Do the steps outlined above, and then submit the following information. If you are researching cars, you may use much of the material above in your answer.The initial topic you have chosen, such as ‘Purchasing a car.’The Purpose: A description of why it is being purchased and other information.The Audience: For whom is your report intended? What will this audience be interested in? What will they need to know to be convinced?What are your focusing questions and their answers?What is your focused topic?What are the questions you will need to answer with your research?
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