In the next step, participants were coached to create influence diagrams on poster paper by using the concepts generated in the previous steps. To begin, the learning researcher on the university team4 made a brief presentation to the group on influence diagrams, using a simple example of the risk of falling down stairs (Morgan, Fischhoff, Bostrom, & Atman , 2002, p. 37), in which an unseen toy on a staircase can cause a fall unless a decision is made to remove it. Influence diagrams are directed graphs, with arrows, indicating influences, connecting various “nodes” in a system. For our purposes, the nodes were causes, effects, and decisions that could be made to affect them. Then the task was presented to the group: to take one group/category at a time (e.g., Infrastructure effects) and list all of the risks associated with that category; identify what could be done to address each risk; and indicate who was or could be responsible for taking action.
After this ten-minute introduction, the team asked the 10 community participants to write on sticky notes their concepts of how climate change might affect their community. Only one effect was to be written on each note sheet. Following ten minutes of the group working independently and silently, the university facilitators then collected the sticky notes onto big sheets of paper. Asking the group members about the sorting as they proceeded, they organized the notes into a rough concept map that was later converted to digital format (figure 3).
Think of it this way. As the writer of an essay, you're essentially a lawyer arguing in behalf of a client (your thesis) before a judge (the reader) who will decide the case (agree or disagree with you). So, begin as a lawyer would, by laying out the facts to the judge in the way you think it will help your client best. Like lawyers in court, you should make an "opening statement," in this case, an introduction. Then review the facts of the case in detail just as lawyers question witnesses and submit evidence during a trial. This process of presentation and cross-examination is equivalent to the "body" of your essay. Finally, end with a "closing statement"—that is, the conclusion of your essay—arguing as strongly as possible in favor of your client's case, namely, your theme.
Likewise, there are several things your paper is not. It's not a murder mystery, for instance, full of surprising plot twists or unexpected revelations. Those really don't go over well in this arena. Instead, lay everything out ahead of time so the reader can follow your argument easily. Nor is a history paper an action movie with exciting chases down dark corridors where the reader has no idea how things are going to end. In academic writing it's best to tell the reader from the outset what your conclusion will be. This, too, makes your argument easier to follow. Finally, it's not a love letter. Lush sentiment and starry-eyed praise don't work well here. They make it look like your emotions are in control, not your intellect, and that will do you little good in this enterprise where facts, not dreams, rule.
A. How to Write an Introduction. The introduction of a persuasive essay or paper must be substantial. Having finished it, the reader ought to have a very clear idea of the author's purpose in writing. To wit, after reading the introduction, I tend to stop and ask myself where I think the rest of the paper is headed, what the individual paragraphs in its body will address and what the general nature of the conclusion will be. If I'm right, it's because the introduction has laid out in clear and detailed fashion the theme and the general facts which the author will use to support it.
B. How to Write a Conclusion. In much the same way that the introduction lays out the thesis for the reader, the conclusion of the paper should reiterate the main points—it should never introduce new ideas or things not discussed in the body of the paper!—and bring the argument home. The force with which you express the theme here is especially important, because if you're ever going to convince the reader that your thesis has merit, it will be in the conclusion. In other words, just as lawyers win their cases in the closing argument, this is the point where you'll persuade others to adopt your thesis.
If the theme is clear and makes sense, the conclusion ought to be very easy to write. Simply begin by restating the theme, then review the facts you cited in the body of the paper in support of your ideas—and it's advisable to rehearse them in some detail—and end with a final reiteration of the theme. Try, however, not to repeat the exact language you used elsewhere in the paper, especially the introduction, or it will look like you haven't explored all aspects of the situation ().
If there are no data provided to support a given statement of result or observation, consider adding more data, or deleting the unsupported "observation."
Examine figure(s) or table(s) pertaining to the result(s).
Assess whether: How does one fairly and accurately indicate who has made what contributions towards the results and interpretations presented in your paper?: by referencing, authorship, and acknowledgements.
Structured Decision Making. We recognized that the community would want to know what knowledge and advice climate scientists would have for Port Orford. We did have some insights from the domain scientists, but in order to create conditions for two-way communication and the co-generation of interpretations of those recommendations, the workshop process would not begin with it. Nor would we begin with the “vulnerability assessments” that have become routine in the methodology of climate adaptation as conducted with professional and technical groups (NOAA Coastal Services Center, 2011). Instead, our approach was grounded in a structured decision-making cycle (figure 1), the first two steps of which are for the decision makers (here, the working group) to define the problem as they see it and clarify objectives that matter to them (Wilson & Arvai, 2011). These steps, we believed, are critical to successful engagement, since without them, target audience voices are not part of the interpretation of research findings. However, simply documenting how participants’ defined the focal problems and their objectives is not enough. Underlying both how a person defines a problem and conceives of objectives to address it are that person’s values, and identifying and acknowledging these are important aspects of creating forums for two-way communication about decision making.
While sophisticated, computer-mediated, concept mapping has shown value in resolving conflict-laden social decisions (Trochim, Milstein, Wood, Jackson, & Pressler, 2004), these tools require familiarity with software, training of participants, and computer access. In engagement contexts, facilitators often do not have access to technology, and time is limited, so training is not feasible unless it is part of long-term efforts. Members of our team had had positive experiences with more “free-hand” paper-and-pen approaches to concept mapping in a variety of teaching, communicating and group-decision making processes, and we wanted to test such low-tech methods here.
To model the task, two members of the university team (an Extension community planning specialist and the learning researcher) demonstrated the diagram-development process to the group with two categories of climate effects. These team members listed risks associated with the given category as community participants called them out, the list being written on poster paper on the wall for all to see. (The team members used the sticky notes generated in the previous step for reference, but did not actually pull them off of the paper, thereby retaining their agreed-upon concept placements.)
Comparison of Influence Diagrams and the Climate Specialists’ Model. A critical question for a lay community group addressing a specialized topic is, how does our understanding compare to that of specialists in the topic? Comparing the climate science map with the maps produced during the workshop allowed project personnel and (ultimately) community participants to see where community knowledge, beliefs, and values coincided with or diverged from ongoing research and the knowledge, beliefs and values of regional climate scientists. There was actually considerable convergence.