Organizational Dynamics Research / Writing Workshops University of Pennsylvania School of Arts and Sciences; Faculty: Steven F. Freeman, Ph.D

One of the worst -- but quite common -- shortcomings of student research papers is the lack of concrete evidence to support assertions. The RENNS Model of Details is one useful tool in thinking about the kind of detail that belongs in every empirical paragraph of a paper.

Sensory Details

Vague or abstract writing will leave the reader lost and without a clear understanding of your topic. To clarify and illuminate your subject, provide evidence to explain and support abstract concepts. When possible, include specific, concrete details to help the reader *physically* understand what you are discussing using the RENNS (Reasons, Examples, Names, Numbers, Senses) model [1]

   General Specific
Reasons (Why?)
Student parking is becoming an important issue on many college campuses.
Because of the increasing numbers of students commuting to college, parking is becoming an important issue.
Examples (What?)
The handbook is a good guide for using documentation.
The MLA handbook provides a guide for documenting works cited.
Names (Who?)
The governor of Minnesota enacted legislation which decreased the amount of aid available to college students.
The governor of Minnesota, Mark Dayton, enacted legislation which decreased the amount of aid available to middle-income college students.
Numbers (How many?)
Even though many members of the student congress were absent, the motion still passed.
Even though thirteen members of the student congress were absent, the motion still passed.
Senses    
Sight
After we viewed the movie about nuclear destruction, we better understood the devastating effects of this type of warfare. After we viewed the enormous mushroom cloud produced by a nuclear bomb, we better understood the devastating effects of this type of warfare.
Sound
The music was very loud at the rock concert last night.
My ears are still ringing today because the music was very loud at the rock concert last night.
Smell
Through the use of aromatherapy, many retail stores are trying to enhance their customers' moods to increase business.
By using floral perfumes or outdoor scents, many retail stores are trying to make their customers feel like they are in a natural setting.
Taste
The university sponsored a festival which featured Japanese foods. The university sponsored a festival featuring hot, spicy, Japanese foods.
Touch
The Braille system of communication uses touch to convey a message. The Braille system of communication requires a person to touch a series of raised dots to convey a message.


Notes:
  • 1]  Lynn Q. Troyka and Douglas Dean Hesse, Simon and Schuster Handbook for Writers, 8th Ed., (Upper Saddle River, NJ : Pearson Prentice Hall, 2007
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