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Nursing program: Research skills: The hamburger technique of writing

Provides starting points for research in TCC's Nursing Program

The "hamburger technique" of writing

It is important that the majority of your writing in a research paper is YOURS. Even if you are citing your sources, the general rule is that 2/3 of the words in your research assignments should be your own. If your paper consists of nothing but quotes, you are not demonstrating that you understand the material nor are you providing your own analysis of that material. One writing method you can follow to help you do this is called the hamburger paragraph.

Hamburger paragraph:

Some instructors will call this the sandwich paragraph method or even the Oreo method (which you may have heard before). Keep in mind that this method applies to body paragraphs, which are basically any paragraph in a paper other than the introduction and conclusion paragraphs. 

Building the burger:

hamburgerHere are the parts for an effective hamburger (or veggie burger) paragraph:

  1. Top bun: The topic sentence, or argument. The first sentence of a paragraph should clearly state the paragraph’s main idea.
  2. Condiments: Your evidence (quotes & paraphrased information from your sources). When using quotes, remember that a little goes a long way!
  3. Cheese, pickles, onions, lettuce, tomato, burger: Your analysis. The bulk of the paragraph! This is where you explain the significance of the evidence in your own words. This section is crucial to your paragraph. Don't get caught in a quote trap. Which is stringing quotes together without explaining their purpose. If you do not back up your quotes or paraphrased information, your writing will be weak and your reader (which at TCC is your teacher) will not be convinced that you understand the material you are writing about.  
  4. Bottom bun: Sentence relating the paragraph back to the thesis statement and transitioning to the next body paragraph.

Here's a diagram to illustrate the concept: 

diagram of the hamburger paragraph

Example with a paragraph:

Here is another example of a simple "evidence sandwich" paragraph in the middle of a research paper that paraphrases information about using social media in the classroom. If you were to use a direct quote instead of paraphrasing, this is where you would want to place the quote. 

 Paraphrase sandwich example

Variations on the hamburger method:

Remember:

  • You can use variations on this formula.  For example, you could make this paragraph longer by including more analysis of the researchers’ findings.
  • Or you could include a second piece of evidence (more filling!) to further back up your point.  If you add more filling, you might want to balance it by adding another slice of bread, too (that is, more of your own analysis).

Not every paragraph in your paper has to follow this formula, or even necessarily include outside evidence. But this is a classic formula that can serve you well throughout your college career. Just remember, you can't just plop a quote into a paragraph and move on - you must explain what the quote means or why the information is important in your own words - this is your analysis. Don't use quotes to fill space. Adding information into your paper should do just that, ADD to it - compliment it. Don't include useless information, but be picky and use quotes only when you intend to talk about what they mean and why they matter to your argument! 

One last note:

And again, making sure you correctly paraphrase, quote, summarize and CITE is key to avoiding plagiarism!


Diagram source: "Paragraph burger" by M. Persson, 2013, Educational use.

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