Due Dates:
Essay 2 Research Question: Friday of Week 3
Research Plan: Weds. of Week 4
Rough Draft: Friday of Week 5
Peer Review: Weds of Week 6
Final, Revised Draft: Friday of Week 6

Essay 2 Requirements & Info

Overview of the Task:

In Essay 1, you wrote a a summary/strong response to a film about living in a connected world. In Essay 2, you will explore a question related to the same course theme through primary and secondary research. Exploratory essays ask questions and gather information that may answer these questions. However, the main point of the exploratory or inquiry essay is not to find definite answers. The main point is to conduct inquiry into a topic, gather information, and share that information with readers.

Based on the general theme of the documentary Digital Nation (or another documentary you viewed for Essay 1), ask a question that is both socially relevant and important to you. Generally, our theme is examining how the Internet or digital technology is changing our lives; develop a research question related to this theme.

Answer your own research question in an open-form exploratory research essay of 5-7 double-spaced pages (1200-1500 words roughly), using Modern Language Association paper format and documentation. You must use at least 5 sources.

Purpose of This Assessment:

Your purpose in completing this assignment is:

  • To conduct inquiry around a research question you develop by bringing your critical thinking to bear on your research sources
  • To position yourself in a conversation with others who have addressed the same question.
  • To conduct primary and secondary research in an ethical and effective manner.
  • To apply MLA documentation strategies to show the reader where you got your sources, and give credit to the originators of the ideas.

What's a Research Paper, Anyway?

“'Google' is not a synonym for 'research'.” ― Dan Brown

Although the research paper is a frequent assignment in college courses, students are often surprised by their professor’s expectations (compared to what they did in their last English course). Many students incorrectly define research as "finding information on a topic" or as "finding quotations to support a thesis" rather than as wrestling with a question or problem. I've heard papers that simply collect quotations in support of a thesis called “data dumps”: The student dumps a steaming pile of data on the professor’s desk and says, “Here’s what I found out about kids and video game violence, Professor Schwer. See ya!” As a freshman in college, I made the error of writing “choo-choo train papers”: massive blocks of quotations coupled with tiny connectors of my own writing. Yuck!

A research paper shouldn’t be a data dump or a long train of quotations. A research paper should:

  • pose an interesting and significant problem.
  • demonstrate information literacy skills to find credible, relevant, and significant sources of information.
  • incorporate a broad range of sources purposefully and ethically.
  • analyze the evidence in some depth, not just paste in quotes or summary.
  • bring sources together to realize something new or original, even if it's just new to you. Research requires a question for which no ready answer is available.

Required Elements In Your Open-form Research Essay:

In your completed research paper, some of your sources should a) provide background information, others b) supply supporting evidence, and still others c) present alternative points of view that you are pushing against. Throughout, your research data should come from credible sources that are documented in a formal, academic style.

Create an open-form, exploratory essay with the following features:

  • a research question in the introduction
  • the answer (or an attempt to answer) to the question in the conclusion
  • written in first-person ("I")
  • body paragraphs that examine one source at a time (as Figure 6.1 on p. 129 illustrates).
  • body paragraphs begin with a topic sentence, are well-developed, unified, and coherent.
  • 5 well-chosen, non-repetitive sources including: one primary source, one article from a Madison College library periodical database, and one web page.
  • clear, logical transitions between sentences and between essay parts.
  • quotations, paraphrases, and summaries are introduced with attributive tags and end with in-text citation.
  • MLA manuscript and MLA Works Cited bibliography format
  • strong mechanics, usage, grammar skills demonstrated.

A Note About the Primary Source (the Interview)

A primary source provides direct or firsthand evidence about an event, object, culture, experience, etc.Primary sources include interviews with people who experience something themselves, eyewitness accounts, results of experiments, statistical data, audio and video recordings, and speeches.

This essay requires that you interview someone. That's an example of a primary source. Who you choose to interview is up to you. Think of some way that a human voice could add depth, interest, or credibility to your essay. Careful thought can produce some cool ideas.

Grading and Points

There are also documentation and summary exercises related to this assignment. This list hits the main items:

  • Essay 2 Research Question: Friday of Week 3 (20 points)
  • Research Plan: Weds. of Week 4 (20 points)
  • Rough Draft: Fri. of Week 5 (30 points)
  • Peer Review: Weds. of Week 6 (30 points)
  • Final, Revised Draft: Friday of Week 6 (200 points)

Your final product will be evaluated using a rubric located in the ESSAY 2 INFO main menu area in Blackboard.