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Research Paper

For lack of a better name, we're calling our last assignment the Research Paper, but it isn't going to be the look-up-a-bunch-of-sources-and-summarize-them paper that you may have done in the past. The key difference is that while this paper will be based on your research on an issue or topic, it will be written for a definite purpose: to argue, explain, or solve a problem. The paper will allow you to practice all that we've learned in the course and will additionally focus on writing for a specific purpose to an audience of people who are not experts in the field from which you draw your topic. You will decide what your purpose and audience are.

Topic: An issue, question, or area of investigation from your field of interest (the profession or academic discipline that you did your interview on)

Purpose: To argue, to explain, or to solve a problem--you decide

Audience: A lay, i.e. non-expert audience who wants and/or needs to know about your topic

Strategies: You will make choices about focusing, developing, and organizing your paper based on the needs of your purpose/subject/audience. All papers should strive to communicate effectively to their intended audiences. Everyone will use MLA style to document sources. Se the following PHG chapters for specific advice: 7--Explaining, 9--Problem Solving, 10--Arguing.


Length: 5-7 pages, not including works cited

Usual format: typed, double-spaced, one-inch margins, 10-12 point font

Submit photocopies of all sources cited in the paper with the paper

Sources: minimum of 8 consulted, 5 cited (includes field sources)

Final folder includes final paper, postscript, all drafts, comments from two workshops, all collecting (notes, in-class activities, etc.), annotated bibliography of all sources consulted, copies of all sources cited (full articles, cited pages of books).

Feedback Opportunities:

You are encouraged to give me a draft or schedule a conference so you can get feedback from me as you need it. There are just a few guidelines we need to follow so that I can give everyone this opportunity and you can learn the most from it. If you give me a draft, be sure to include 1-3 focused questions that you want me to address. If you send a draft via e-mail, remember to save the file as rtf or text-only before you attach it. Allow a 2-3 day hours turnaround, but donít hesitate to ask when you can expect your draft back. If you make a conference appointment, please keep it or notify me if you cannot. Come prepared with specific questions.

Homework: There will be few actual homework assignments because I expect you will be spending significant time outside of class researching and writing your papers. Remember to bring the PHG to class. The amount of work is very "do-able" if you donít procrastinate. :-)

Class meeting topics, assignments and due dates:

Tuesday, April 6: Intro to Research Paper: choosing a topic, generating research questions, exploring prior knowledge.

Thursday, April 8: Purpose "Jigsaw" Activity: Expert Groups Meet to analyze sample article.

Assignment Due: Read your portion of the Purpose Jigsaw (see handout).

Tuesday, April 13: Expert Groups present findings.

Assignment Due: Two (2) annotated bibliography entries with copies of sources (in a folder).

Thursday, April 15: The role of context in writing: purpose/audience/author/subject.

Tuesday, April 20: Focusing and organizing your paper.

Assignment Due: Research Paper Proposal (see handout).

Thursday, April 22: Leads, titles, and other good stuff.

Tuesday, April 27: Improving your style by avoiding vague words, wordiness, clichés and jargon, and sexist language.


Thursday, April 29: First peer review workshop: work with others with same purpose, role-play audiences.

Assignment Due: Complete draft of your paper with a description of your purpose and audience.

Tuesday, May 4: Second peer review workshop: revision checklist.

Assignment Due: Revised version of your paper.

Thursday, May 5: Woo-hoo! Last day of class. Course evaluation, final assignment given.

Assignment Due: Research paper