The Craft of Research

Wayne C. Booth was a George M. Pullman Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in English Language and Literature at the University of Chicago. He was a famous critic of literature and of literary critics. He wrote the influential books, The Rhetoric of Fiction in 1961 and The Company We Keep in 1988, which promoted the study and criticism of literature using technical and ethical analysis.

Gregory G. Colomb worked at the University of Virginia as a professor of English language, literature, and as Director of Writing Programs. Some of his research interests were writing studies and theory.

Joseph M. Williams also worked at the University of Chicago. He was professor emeritus in the English Language and Literature Department. He was passionate about helping people write clearly and succinctly.

All three writers of The Craft of Research were long-standing friends and colleagues.


The authors’ main arguments in the two chapters are that when someone is writing a complete research paper, one must include acknowledgments, responses, and warrants. Including those three things in one’s paper will help the writer convince and strengthen his/her claim and their supporting reasons in order to convince readers that the paper was written objectively. One must be impartial and inclusive of valid counter-arguments when writing your paper in order for your work to be taken seriously and not dismissed as poppycock.

Warrants (


Chapter 10 is about why research papers should use acknowledgments and responses. The authors want writers to take the viewpoint of their reader and ask themselves “what will the reader question about my argument?” Another question the authors want writers to consider is “what are the alternatives to their argument?” Then after careful thought, select what you think are the valid alternatives that run counter to your argument and include them in your research paper. A key point to consider when bringing up possible alternatives to your argument is that the writer must also give a response as to why that alternative was not considered. Responding as to why an alternative was not considered is important so that readers can see that the writer was being broad-minded. Lastly, the authors advocate the use of appropriate vocabulary when acknowledging alternatives. They caution writers not to utilize vocabulary that comes off as being condescending or dismissive which can turn off their readers.

Chapter 11 is about warrants and discusses how to pick when and how to utilize them in your research paper. Warrants are likened to proverbs. In academic circles, warrants are more difficult to manage because the reasons may not be familiar to the reader or the wording of the warrant may be confusing to the reader. When writing, researchers must ensure their warrants are logical and reliably true. When should warrants be uses? The authors suggest three main instances. Use warrants when your reader is outside of your field of expertise, when the writer’s principle of reasoning is either new or controversial, and when the writer is making a claim that is sure to make readers resist the validity of the claim. Lastly, the authors talk about the different types of warrants that exist that are based on experience, authority, culture, methodology, systems of knowledge, and articles of faith.


The title of their book is The Craft of Research. It is not The Inadequacy of Ignorance. Writing a well-written and unbiased research paper must include those acknowledgments, responses, and warrants. The careful and studious application of those three factors will serve to strengthen the argument of one’s research paper and mitigate reader antipathy to your argument.


Their arguments are logical and make sense. The authors have convinced me of the paramount importance in including acknowledgments, responses, and warrants when writing a research paper. If you do not include those three items, then it is not called a research paper. It is called conjecture.


The chapter on warrants can be difficult to understand and to employ in one’s research writings. It is hard to find that “sweet spot” when using warrants. That is why it is a craft of research. It takes finesse to use warrants to produce the best result in a research paper. The three authors acknowledge that warrants are even hard for themselves to understand, construct, and employ.


These two chapters of The Craft of Research tie in well with our intelligent community (IC) profession. I feel that chapter 10 is an important reminder for the IC to always be open-minded. Getting different points of view and opinions from all the different intelligence professionals will help to identify possible cognitive biases and blindspots. Chapter 11 is a reminder for us to challenge group-thinking and to use Intelligence Community Directive 203 Analytic Standards in order to produce excellence in production and evaluation of analytic products.

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