English 1A Research Project (Online)
Final Research Essay due May 15, 2019
In preparation for writing the research paper, we take a few intermediate steps: a proposal, an annotated bibliography, and an outline.
Research Proposal (30 pts.) 1-2 pages (Due on April 21, 2019)
A research proposal is designed to allow your teacher, employer, and/or granting institution a chance to acquaint themselves with your project and its importance. The most important thing a research proposal does is to clarify the question which your research will attempt to answer. Good proposals will do the following:
Explain the question or issue your paper will attempt to answer/explore. What is the goal of your paper? What do you want to know or understand as a result of having written the paper? What would you like you like your readers to become aware of?
Explain the need in the field your paper addresses or fills. How does your paper contribute to your chosen field in a unique way? Has the question you are posing already been addressed or answered? Why is your paper important to the field you are exploring? Why is it important to you?
Suggest possible answers/solutions. In this part of your proposal you will begin to formulate thesis statements. If your research paper is designed to answer questions, this will be the section of the proposal that posits a few answers. Only your research will be able to answer the research question(s) fully.
Annotated Bibliography (50 pts.) 5 sources (or more); (due April 29, 2019)
An annotated bibliography is the second step of the research unit. By the time of writing your annotated bibliography, you should have done enough research to have reached a working thesis. This working thesis should appear at the top of the bibliography. Following the thesis should be your list of sources with several sentences of annotation explaining each source. An annotation should do two things: (1) briefly summarize the sources and (2) explain the source’s relevance to the project (How does it relate to the thesis?). Remember, you will need sources that both support your thesis and sources that support or convey alternative viewpoints. Sources that do not relate at all to your thesis should not be included in the annotated bibliography. We will be learning about MLA format in detail as we work on our annotated bibliographies.
A note on thesis statements: Unlike in your research proposal, in which you ask questions, a thesis statement is not a question. A thesis statement should be the answer to the main question you asked in your proposal.
Outline. (20 pts). (May 5, 2019). You’ll put together a detailed outline of your research paper, indicating the scope and depth of your argument, including which sources will be used and where they might appear in an eventual essay. Your outline may be in any format, although we will be covering specific outlining techniques in class. Your outline must include sufficient detail to receive full credit.
Research Paper (100 pts.) about 7 pages (Due: December 15)
This essay will allow you to use the skills you are reading about in Writing Commons: field research, library and internet research, and using sources. The Research Essay will also allow you review and put in to use many of the other skills you have developed this semester including using examples, arguing, and description. It is a demanding genre, but it’s also very rewarding. For this essay, you will choose a topic that interests you; the field is wide open. I’ve received excellent research papers on topics ranging from organic farming to piracy in the sixteenth century. The key is that an academic research paper must make some kind of argument. Many of the research essays you have done so far have been merely reports. For example, when I was in sixth grade, I wrote a research paper on Blue Whales. I found all the facts I could about Blue Whales: how many there were, where they lived, how big they were, what they ate, and I crammed all those facts into a five page paper. This is NOT a college research paper; it makes no argument. If, however, I wanted to write a paper in which I explained the primary causes for the endangerment of Blue Whales (i.e. Why are Blue Whales going extinct?), that would be a college research paper. I’m answering a how or why question; I’m making an argument. Good college research paper address how or why questions. The thesis statement is your answer, for example, “In my paper, I will argue that warming ocean temperatures, commercial fishing, and whale tourism are the primary reasons for the shrinking population of Blue Whales,” or, “In my paper I will demonstrate how video-gaming, television advertisements, and altered family structure has caused the increase in cases of juvenile diabetes.” These papers are implicit arguments for how or why something is occurring. A paper that gave me all the facts about juvenile diabetes is not, and would not receive a passing grade. Your Research Essay will be graded on the following criteria:
Content/Ideas. Does the research essay include a thesis statement that makes an argument and indicate the support and ideas that will be discussed in the rest of the essay? Have you found adequate support for your ideas, and have you drawn on academic sources to make your case. Most of the sources you come across through Google and Yahoo searches are not credible. Wikipedia is not a credible source, either (although Wikipedia is often a helpful tool). Make use of the library’s website.
Organization. The organization of this essay should follow the order set out by the thesis statement. For example, if your thesis is, “I will demonstrate how video-gaming, television advertisements, and altered family structure has caused the increase in cases of juvenile diabetes,” I would expect you to discuss video-gaming, then television advertisements, then family structure. For more information about the organization of the research paper, you may want too look at the sample research outline that I’ve posted to the Course Documents section of Blackboard. Like some of the other essays we’ve written for this class, I strongly suggest that you outline this paper before writing it and have a writing tutor look over your outline.
Grammar/Conventions. MLA style must be strictly adhered to, including for in-text quotations, paraphrasing, and summarizing. Our class activities should help you to feel more comfortable with using your book and online resources to help you format your sources in your paper. Standard spelling and grammar conventions apply.
Voice. The tone of the research paper should be formal without sound stale. Think of your audience as your classmates. Try to convey a sense of excitement about what you have learned; choose a topic you are interested in.
Sentence Fluency/Syntax. Try to keep your sentence structure as straightforward as possible, but avoid repeating the same syntactical patterns over and over; in other words, vary your sentence structures. This will make your writing feel more lively, and it will get the attention of your readers.
Word Choice. Avoid jargon (words specific to your particular topic or discipline) wherever possible. Choose the simple word over the one that might at first seem to be more impressive.