The Research Project has four parts:
- Working Bibliography
- The Literature Review
- The Research Essay
- The Alternative Genre Project
- Thesis Statement
- Sample Outline
- The Assignment:
Write a 10-12 page essay that discusses your research topic. Begin with a catchy first sentence and interesting first paragraph that explains why this topic is important to your intended audience. The first paragraph is also a good place to establish pathos. Tell a story that will pull on your readers’ heartstrings or include a shocking statistic that will inspire them to pay attention to what you have to say.
In the next couple paragraphs, provide any historical information that the reader will need to understand your argument. Also, define terms that may be unfamiliar to people who have not done as much research as you have.
Then discuss what you have discovered about your topic and provide specific reasons and evidence to support your thesis statement. Remember this is an essay so you should have one main point (your thesis) that you are trying to communicate. You may have found out many, many things that you cannot include. What is the most important information? Whatâ€™s the best way to get that across to your readers?
In the academic essay, each paragraph is like a mini-essay. Each paragraph will have one main point or idea that you are developing, most likely it is one of the reasons that you have for your argument. Then you will explain the main idea and give examples. Follow the AXES paragraph model that you studied earlier â€“ Assertion, explanation, examples, and significance.)
The final paragraph of your essay is the conclusion. It should summarize what you discussed in the essay and restate your thesis statement (your main claim). Also, it is nice to frame your essay by referring to something that you mentioned in the introduction. If you told a story in the introduction, come back to that story and show how the world would be a different place if your ideas were adopted
Please cite at least five sources that appeared in your literature review. At least two of these have to be scholarly. If you use opinion pieces in your research essay be sure to explain that they are opinion pieces and why you are using them. For instance, you may use them to explain misconceptions about the topic.
Please type the essay in MLA format. Include a works cited page and cite the sources appropriately within the text. Donâ€™t forget to double space.
Strategies for Writing: As I mentioned before, almost every piece of writing you do in college involves convincing someone of something, even if it is just convincing your professor that you know and understand something. For this piece of writing, practice using persuasive writing strategies. Below is an outline of the basic steps for creating an effective argument.
- Begin by thinking about your audience. Who are my readers? What is at stake for them? How can the information be presented so the readers will understand it and care about it? Keep this information in mind as you will also be using the three rhetorical appeals and knowing your audience is crucial to making the appeals work.
- Define the issue clearly. Remember; in order to effectively persuade a reader of anything, you must first help them understand the issue. What makes this issue important? Define the issue by discussing who is involved and how they will be affected. Even if you are writing about something that you think mainly concerns just you, explain why it is important to you and what is at stake. If the history of the issue affects your argument, be sure to include that in your discussion as well.
- State your main idea clearly. Write a clear thesis statement. Writing a good thesis statement is the first step in writing the essay. In a sentence or two, you should be able to state what you are trying to prove to your readers. Tape the thesis statement on your computer or keep it near you as you are composing your essay. This will help you stay focused.
- Develop a convincing argument.Use sound reasoning. Avoid logical fallacies. Be sure each main idea is stated clearly, explained, and fully developed. Use credible, convincing evidence and tell the reader where you obtained your evidence. Back up all the main ideas with examples, stories, quotes from authorities, facts, or statistics. Use the three rhetorical appeals geared to your specific audience. Do not rely too heavily on pathos.
- Consider opposing viewpoints.If you are writing about something that is controversial or simply has more than one viewpoint, be sure to include alternate ideas in your essay. Remember that considering other ideas will help you strength your own understanding of the topic or issue. Try to create common ground with your readers even if they may disagree with your conclusions. Include at least one visual in the essay. Include a caption that describes how the visual supports your thesis statement. Be sure to cite the visual just like you would any other source.
- Use a reasonable tone. Always treat your readers with respect. Never be condescending or assume that they feel the same way you do.
- Use your own voice. Although academic papers must follow certain guidelines and standards that does not mean that you cannot be yourself in your essays. You can use â€œIâ€; however, avoid â€œI thinkâ€ or â€œI believe.â€ That is already assumed since you are writing the paper. Also, you probably shouldnâ€™t write the entire paper in first person, but you can include personal stories and ideas. Your ideas and stories can give your paper life and help keep the reader interested. Donâ€™t use â€œstuffyâ€ language. Use your own language. It is a myth that papers with big words get better grades. That is only true if the big words are used correctly and if they fit with the ideas. Many ideas are best expressed in everyday language rather than academic jargon. For instance, everyone has heard the phrase, â€œTo be or not to beâ€ even if they have never seen or read <i”>Hamlet. Each of those words is three letters or less, and yet, that phrase packs a powerful punch. So be yourself in your writing.
- Have fun. What???? Have fun writing a research paper??? Yea, right. But if you have chosen a topic you care about, hopefully you will be excited to share what you have found out about it. It is much more interesting to read an essay in which the writer is enjoying the process of sharing information than to read something that is rigid and the only purpose is to get it done. So really, have fun. One way to do that is to give yourself plenty of time including time to write the essay, time to reflect on what you have written, and time to revise. In other words, donâ€™t procrastinate.
Part IV: The Alternative Genre Project
The alternative genre project for ENG 1201 asks you to be creative and think of a different way of presenting the information you compiled for your research project. In other words, you will choose a genre other than a research essay. We have talked about genres earlier in the semester, but here is a quick review.
What is a genre? When you write a text or twitter message, the style of writing you use is different from the style of writing you use to write an academic research paper. Obviously. Still, readers of text and twitter messages expect a particular style of writing just as your professors expect that your lab reports, research proposals, literature reviews or research essays will not be written like text messages. These different styles of writing are called writing genres. For this assignment, you will explore various genres and think about the audiences that read those genres in order to identify and appeal to a larger audience for the claims you made in your research essay.
To get ready for the final project, begin thinking about other audiences that would benefit from learning about your research. Who else besides your professor should know this information? What is the best genre to share that information? Next, brainstorm different ways that you might reach that person or group of people.
Sample Alternative Genre Projects by Sinclair Students
This link will take you to a sample: History of Cartoon Controversy
This student’s research question was “What is the history of comics and how have they portrayed various political controversies?” To share this information, this student used a chalk board and created his own cartoons to answer his question. Then he posted his presentation on YouTube.
Here is another sample: Life with Synesthesia
In this example, a student’s research answered the question “What is it like to live with synesthesia?” This student decided that in addition to sharing her research with her instructor and classmates, she wanted to share what she learned with people who may not have heard of synesthesia. Because this condition involves two senses, she decided to use a video so that the audience could experience the phenomena.
You do not have to use a YouTube video. You might want to write a poem or song (you could perform it and post on YouTube). You might decide to design a brochure or create a comic strip. You might decide to create a poster. Or, you might decide to write a short story or paint a picture. The choice is yours. All you need to do is explain the intended audience and why you chose the genre you did. For more ideas on different types of genres, see the list below.
Once you have decided on the audience and the alternative genre, recreate the message from your research essay in a genre other than a research essay. You will be presenting your alternative genre to the class.
This assignment will be evaluated on how well the genre appeals to the intended audience. It will also be evaluated on how well it includes the information from your essay, how well it uses the different appeals (ethos, pathos, and logos), and the quality of the presentation of the work (in other words grammar and technical aspects of the presentation. Does it look like it is well-planned? Is there evidence that you took time to plan and execute the work?)
A Brief List of Genres:
- Infograph – here is a link with a templates (Select Student under the Pricing option to create the infograph for free)
- Journal Entries
- Personal Letter
- Greeting Card
- Schedule/Things to Do List
- Inner Monologue Representing Internal Conflicts
- Classified or Personal Ads
- Personal Essay or Philosophical Questions
- Top Ten List/Glossary or Dictionary
- Song Lyrics
- Autobiographical Essay
- Contest Entry Application
- Business Letter or Correspondence/Persuasive or Advocacy Letter
- Biographical Summary
- Critique of a Published Source
- Speech or Debate
- Historical Times Context Essay
- Textbook Article
- Science Article or Report/Business Article or Report
- Lesson Plan
- Encyclopedia Article
- Short Scene from a Play with Notes for Stage Directions
- Short Scene from a Movie with Notes for Camera Shots
- Dialogue of a Conversation among Two or More People
- Short Story
- Adventure Magazine Story
- Ghost Story
- Myth, Tall Tale, or Fairy Tale
- Talk Show Interview or Panel
- Recipe and Description of Traditional Holiday Events
- Classroom Discussion
- Character Analysis or Case Study
- Comedy Routine or Parody
- Liner Notes
- Picture book
- Chart or Diagram with Explanation and Analysis
- Brochure or Newsletter
- Time Line or Chain of Events
- Map with Explanation and Analysis
- Magazine or TV Advertisement or Infomercial
- Restaurant Description and Menu
- Travel Brochure Description
- How-To or Directions Booklet
- Receipts, Applications, Deeds, r Budgets
Purpose: The purpose of the Research Project is to allow you to develop your research and critical thinking skills, and it provides an opportunity for you to practice a variety of research and writing techniques that you will use throughout your academic career. Specifically, you will practice writing summaries, conducting academic research, evaluating sources, and writing an analysis and reflection of your work.
You will be allowed to explore almost any topic of your choice except faith-based and/or moral issues. The only other requirement is that it needs to be something that you have a personal need to know and something that can be researched.
Part I: Working Bibliography
The Purpose: The Working Bibliography is the first step in gathering sources that will help you with your research. It is composed of sources that look promising but that will not necessarily end up in your research essay.
The Assignment: The Working Bibliography is a bibliography of ten sources that you might use in your literature review and research essay. It is formatted like a Works Cited page (in MLA format).
Part II: The Literature Review Essay
The Purpose: The purpose of the Literature Review is to study research that has already been completed on the topic and begin to understand the issues that surround the topic. This essay can be used as part of your research project if it is written correctly.
The Assignment: To begin to put the Literature Review together, review the sources you listed on your Working Bibliography. Choose five sources that look like they come the closest to answering the research questions you posted in your Research Proposal. If, after reading and researching further into your topic, you realize that you do NOT have five that address the issue you are writing about, go back to the library databases, search websites, look at documentaries and find more sources. Keep searching until you have AT LEAST five. If you are having any trouble with this assignment, visit the library. The librarians there will be happy to help you find sources if you are having difficulties.
Choosing the five sources for the Literature Review is important because you are going to spend considerable time reading, summarizing, and critiquing these sources. You might spend as much as eight hours to complete the assignment. Make sure you take as much time as necessary to read and choose sources that answer the questions you posed in your research proposal. The time you put into this assignment will pay off when you go to write the paper because much of what you create for this assignment can go directly into your final research essay to support the ideas that you are sharing with your readers. This assignment is one of the most important steps in writing the paper. The more time you give to this assignment, the better your paper will be.
Once you have decided on the five most relevant sources, read them carefully and evaluate their credibility. Be sure to highlight and annotate the texts. Use all the strategies you used to write the summary. Highlight key points. Look up terms you don’t know. Find out who the author is and why they are writing the article. Consider the context for the article. Think about whether or not the source meets the CRAAP guidelines.
When you are satisfied that you have the sources you need and that they are credible, format a bibliography just like you did for the Working Bibliography. This bibliography will become the last page of your literature review. Use your textbook and the Purdue OWL website to make sure the formatting is correct. Even if you use Easy Bib or another bibliography creation tool, you still must check the formatting to be sure nothing is missing.
Now you are ready to write the review. Here’s what to include in your Literature Review:
A summary of the topic and your question. The first paragraph of your literature review will introduce the topic you are writing about and the question you are trying to answer. You don’t need to go into great depth about the topic, but you need to explain the basic ideas that are driving your questions.. Also, this is not a summary of a source, it is just an introduction to the issues being explored. Be sure to include your research question in the introduction.
A review of the history (if applicable). For some issues or topics, you might need to explore how the ideas about this topic have changed over time. For example, if you were writing about the environmental health of the ocean, you might start by discussing how for many years scientists and citizens thought that the ocean was a safe place to dispose of trash, especially plastics. Then you would talk about how that view is changing. For example, in the last few decades we have discovered that the garbage being spewed into the ocean is having detrimental effects on human health. (Be sure to include the source for the history on your works cite page. It can count as one of the five sources you are required to include to complete the assignment.) Then you would briefly summarize the sources you have that support that history. Please note: not all topics will require this section, but many of them will.
Determine the key points. The next 3-5 paragraphs will discuss the key points you discovered from reading your sources. In your essay, answer the following questions. Don’t type this as question then answer, but formulate the answers into paragraphs. Refer back to the lesson on the AXES paragraph structure for help with this.
What are the key points that are repeated throughout all the sources?
What ideas do you see repeated again and again? Feel free to quote the various sources to support your key points.
What are some ideas that seem to be disagreements between the sources? You will have as many paragraphs as you have disagreements.
Feel free to include your own analysis of the disagreements. You might discuss differences in the purposes of the articles, credibility or the writers, quality of sources used, or other items that would indicate which argument is stronger.
For instance, you might say something like this:
While John Smith, in his article “What’s love got to do with it?” argues that most marriages that survive more than ten years are based on shared values and religions rather than what many call “love,” Mary Carter argues in her article, “Will Marriage Survive?” that there are no sure ways to predict whether or not a marriage will survive. In fact, she claims that marriage itself is no longer a viable institution. She bases her claim on statistics from a study conducted through Harvard. Smith makes his claims based on studies conducted by Psychology Today. While both sources use credible evidence and seem to be reliable, their purposes for conducting research are very different. For the
Psychology Today source, the purpose was to prove that a successful marriage can be predicted by tracking particular behaviors. For the Harvard study, Carter was hoping to propose alternative arrangements for shared households. Their claims seem to be affected by their purposes.
Are there any common misconceptions that surround this topic? (To answer this question, you may want to include sources that are not reliable.)
A mini-critical analysis. For each source that you mention in your review, be sure to include some discussion of purpose, audience, context, and reliability. In other words, how do you know the source is suitable for academic research? This discussion should be woven throughout your essay and not just included in a separate section at the end. Please note: It is fine if you want to include sources that are not reliable as a way to show the misconceptions, but be sure to indicate that they are not reliable and why you might use them in your paper any way.
Possible Answers to Your Research Question. End your review by exploring possible answers to your research question. You should include ideas about where you need to do further research. Obviously, at this stage, you may not be absolutely sure what the answer to your research question is, but you should have some possible answers that you would like to explore further.
Part III: The Research Essay
The Purpose: The purpose of this assignment is three-fold. First, almost every piece of writing that you complete at the college level will involve arguing for a specific viewpoint. Even essays that simply are informative are trying to convince the reader of the validity of the information. This essay will allow you to demonstrate that you understand how to compose an effective piece of persuasive writing. Second, you will be required to write many research papers as you complete your academic career. This essay allows you to demonstrate that you understand how to effectively cite the information you gather from completing the research assignments that led up to writing this essay. Finally, this essay gives you the chance to discuss something you feel is important, either for your own information or for the general population, and you get a guaranteed audience.
You may have written research papers in the past that required you to choose from a list of topics or inquire about a controversial subject matter. For this research essay, we ask that you take a different approach. Instead of researching a random controversial topic, you will conduct research on something that has personal relevance. For instance, you may be dealing with some health issues that are impacting your life or you may be having relationship issues that are impacting you in some way. Or, possibly someone in your family is having health issues that are causing issues in your life. Maybe you are getting ready to make a major purchase, and you need to know how to decide what to buy. Maybe you are getting ready to buy a house or car. In order to do meaningful research, you will need to choose a topic that matters to you.
Below are a series of questions to get you started thinking about what topic might work for your project. Take out a piece of paper or open up a document on your computer and try to write down at least one or two things for each question. If you cannot, that is okay. Move on to the next question. If you write down an affirmative answer, also write a little about your specific situation.
Once you are done, you should have some idea what topic you might like to use for your research project. If you are still struggling to find something relevant, visit the Opposing Viewpoints in Context Database that can be accessed by going to the Sinclair Library Website and clicking on Databases A-Z. Then, click on the “O” tab at the top of the page and select Opposing Viewpoints in Contexts. (If you are off campus, you will need to sign in with your Sinclair user name and password. This is the same password and user name you use to sign on to eLearn or your email.) Click on the Browse All Topics tab and then click on anything that seems relevant to you.
Once you have decided on a general topic that has personal relevance, click on the button on the top or bottom of this page to move on to the next lesson: Writing the Research Question.
Here some questions for brainstorming for a topic:
Mental and Physical Health
- Do you or a family member or friend suffer from health conditions that affect your quality of life?
- Do you get enough sleep? Have you ever wondered how sleep affects your mental and physical health?
- Are you under a lot of stress? Would you like to learn more about how to manage stress?
- Have you or someone you know and care about ever been diagnosed for cancer? Maybe you would like to learn about treatment options or how family genetics affect your chance of getting cancer. Maybe you would like to know why there is no cure for cancer or what research is being done to find a cure.
- Have you ever wondered how much different types of food affect your body or mental capabilities? For instance, maybe you are a vegetarian or vegan and are wondering if you are getting enough nutrients. Maybe you are wondering if junk food or processed foods are really that bad for you. Possibly, you want to know more about GMO (genetically modified organisms) and why there is so much negative press surrounding that topic. Maybe you are an athlete and wondering what is the best way to train.
- Do you have health insurance? Have you ever wondered why it costs so much? Or maybe you are wondering what is the Affordable Care Act or Obama Care and why is there so much debate around that issue. Maybe you just want to know how to purchase the right health insurance for your situation.
- Do you or a family member or friend suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD), depression, anxiety, or another type of mental health issue? Have you ever wondered what is the best treatment for those conditions?
- Have you ever wondered about the side effects of the prescription drugs or medical marijuana that you have been prescribed? Have you ever wondered if there are more natural ways to treat any of the health conditions that you may be experiencing?
- For people who smoke, you may want to research the health effects of smoking, or how to stop smoking, or the effects of second hand smoke on those who live with you.
- Perhaps you would like to research the best way to lose weight . . . .
Relationships can often be challenging, but research has shown there are ways to make them less so. Are you having any relationship issues that you would like to solve?
- Are you married and wondering how to make it last? Or, divorced and wondering what happened? Maybe your parents are divorced and you are wondering how that will affect your future relationships. Or, maybe you have children and you are wondering what the effects of divorce are on the children involved.
- Perhaps you have been having trouble communicating with your spouse, or friends, or parents, and you would like to know how to make your communication more effective. Or, maybe you feel like no one hears what you are saying, and you would like to learn how to get people to listen to your ideas.
- Are you having issues at work? Do you have a difficult boss or co-workers? Are you wondering how you are going to survive your work situation? You could research how to best handle difficult bosses or relationships at work.
The personal is political. Although this slogan was coined originally to address equal rights for women, it is a phrase that can be applied to everyone. If you stop to think about it, politics has every thing to do with your personal life. Public policies affect the amount of money you have to pay or not pay for college. It affects the quality of your undergraduate education. It affects the cost of fuel, food, and the clothes you wear. It affects how you are treated if you identify as LGBTQ. It can affect your major life choices such as who are you are allowed to marry, who can visit you when you are in the hospital, who will have custody of your children if you die, and it can also affect the minutiae of your life such as where you are allowed to go to the bathroom when you are in a public place or how long you can park your car at a parking meter.
This research project gives you the opportunity to examine public policies that affect you personally and learn what you can do to affect change to those policies that you feel do not benefit you.
“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.”- John Muir
We hear a lot these days about climate change and environmental degradation, and we know it affects all of us. Have ever wondered what you can do or what is true? This research project provides you with an opportunity to find out.
Have you ever wondered:
- What is climate change and what can I do about it?
- What causes global warming? What can be done about it?
- What and how are different animal or plant species affected by climate change? Are there are any species that I see every day that may be endangered? What does that mean when an animal or plant is on the endangered species list? What can I do to turn those statistics around?
- How does agriculture affect the environment? How are the foods I eat grown? Processed? What affect does that have on the environment?
- What does it mean when something is “organic”? Is that something that will prevent climate change?
- How is climate change connected to the natural disasters that have occurred in and around where I live? How can I prepare for a natural disaster?
- How does the car I drive affect global warming or climate change? What cars have less of an impact?
- How can I choose products to buy that have less of an environmental impact?
Many of you are attending college to prepare for a career. Whether you know what career you want or not, you could use the research project assignment to discover important information that will affect your future.
- Do you know what career you would like to pursue? If not, consider using this project to explore some possibilities. Usually, it is best to narrow the search to three or four options. What are some careers you have considered? What are some important considerations that will guide your decision? Are you concerned about salary? The day-to-day experiences you will have? What education you will need? Are you wondering if there will be jobs available when you complete your education? These are all possible research topics, and a good place to start looking is the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by The Bureau of Labor Statistics. Click on the link to explore some possibilities you might explore further.
- If you know what career you would like to have, do you know the best path to pursue? Do you know what education you need? What qualities you can develop to be more successful? What are some of the issues that are pertinent to your field of study? Are there any issues that you would like to learn more about? Are you wondering about any aspects of that career that you would like to learn more about? Again, click on the link for the Occupational Outlook Handbook to get started thinking about research topics related to your field.
- Are you someone who has always wanted to start a business rather than work for someone else? Have you ever had an idea for a business and wondered how to make it happen? How to fund it? Manage it? Make it successful?
“A well-educated mind will always have more questions than answers.” -Helen Keller
- Have you ever wondered why there are General Education courses that do not seem to relate to your major?
- Have you ever felt like the test you were being asked to take was not a real measure of your intelligence?