The Research-for-Writing (RFW) outcomes taken together make up a framework for understanding and engaging in the research process.
This framework is designed specifically to help students who have a research-based writing assignment. It helps by identifying, at a general or abstract level, the elements of successful undergraduate research projects and how those elements are interrelated. In that sense the outcomes provide a kind of template, or even a set of checkboxes, that students (as well as faculty) can apply to the research process.
The framework identifies five elements:
1. Articulating a Thesis: The goal or aim of any research process is to spell out or make explicit -- articulate -- a main idea or thesis. This process of articulating the main idea involves finding and using information -- typically arguments and evidence -- from sources. This framework includes the kinds of thesis development that occur during the research process itself as part of "articulating a thesis."
2. Selecting Sources: This element includes searching and selecting sources that provide arguments and evidence that can be used to articulate the main idea. The key source selection criterion (among many) is: does the source include information that will contribute to the process of articulating the thesis?
3. Using Information from Sources: Skilled writers use information from sources to make a main idea explicit (that is, to articulate a thesis). To do so, they must select authentic sources that connect to their thesis and then select the information from the sources that contributes to articulating the thesis.
The first three elements support each other and form a natural unit. The last two have more to do with getting things down on paper effectively.
4. Presenting Information from Sources: The most common ways of presenting information are quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing.
5. Citing Sources: In academic writing it's essential to provide citation information. Skilled writers recognize that observing this norm contributes to their own authority and persuasiveness.