Click to download a PDF of the Glossary.


Graphic of research termsAnalysis — In an informational text, analysis helps readers understand how to interpret the facts and details they are given and make connections between different pieces of information.

In an argument text, analysis explains the connection between the claim and the evidence presented, helping the reader to understand the logic of the argument.

Argument — In life, arguments are conflicts people engage in using language.

In writing, arguments are opinions that can be backed up with evidence.

Bias — Information reported from a perspective that is not neutral or objective; information selected and organized in a way that supports a certain idea, agenda, or group.

Brainstorming (Idea Generation) — A first stage process where the writer produces a list of ideas, topics, or arguments without crossing any possibilities off the list.  The goal is to create a “storm” of creative energy to open up thinking about the writing task and access ideas the writer might not have realized she had.

Central Idea — The overarching idea behind an informational text that introduces the “what” and the “how” of the text, otherwise known as the topic and the text structure.  The term central idea can also be used in reference to a paragraph, where the central idea should sit in the topic sentence.  Sometimes called a thesis statement.

Claim — An opinion that is a matter of personal experience and values that is debatable and must be backed up with evidence.  Others can disagree with this claim.

Counterargument The move the writer makes to stop possible critics short by acknowledging any flaws in the main argument and/or addressing and refuting potential objections to the main argument.

Data — Facts and statistics collected together for reference or analysis; a collection of facts, such as values or measurements.  Note: research data is data that is collected, observed, or created for purposes of analysis to produce original research.

Evidence — Details, facts, data, and reasons that directly relate to and support a debatable claim.

Anecdotal Evidence — Evidence based on personal observation and experience, often in the form of a brief story; can come from the writer, friends, family, acquaintances, or interviewees.

Factual Evidence — Data, confirmed facts, and research performed by experts; found by the writer performing research.

Informational/Explanatory Writing — Informational/explanatory writing conveys information accurately and is organized around a central idea with a coherent focus, answering a question that addresses what, how, or why.

Persuasion — To move another person or group to agree with a belief or position through argument, appeal, or course of action.

Plagiarism — To use the ideas of another writer, researcher, or person without giving credit.  Plagiarism can include:

      • passing off another person’s ideas or writing as your own.
      • failing to put a quotation in quotation marks and and include a citation.
      • failing to cite a passage or idea that is paraphrased.
      • giving false information about a source.
      • To learn more about plagiarism and how to avoid it, click here.

Prior Knowledge — All the information the writer has stored in his/her brain about a selected topic.  Writing down this information increases a writer’s confidence and readies them to accept new information about the topic, thereby helping him/her make connections between prior knowledge and new knowledge.

Research Question — An overarching question that steers the research and writing/creation of a text or multimedia piece.  These questions should:

      • Not be easily answered.
      • Be analytical in nature.
      • Be open-ended.
      • Require research and thinking to craft an adequate response.