This assignment was written by Jessica Ainsworth-Truong for use in post-secondary education. This assignment is not to be used by others without written consent.
Research Paper: Objectives
- Identify a specific topic within the broader subject of design history that warrants further investigation
- Devise a series of questions that create breadth and depth for research
- Locate, catalog and assess a number of sources that aid in answering these questions
- Explain the specific topic and answer questions in a clear, concise manner
- Review and edit content for others
- Construct an illustrated document that demonstrates logical and critical thinking
Research: What it is.
A research paper is the culmination and final product of an involved process of research, critical thinking, source evaluation, organization, and composition. It is, perhaps, helpful to think of the research paper as a living thing, which grows and changes as the student explores, interprets, and evaluates sources related to a specific topic. Primary and secondary sources are the heart of a research paper, and provide its nourishment; without the support of and interaction with these sources, the research paper would morph into a different genre of writing (e.g., an encyclopedic article). The research paper serves not only to further the field in which it is written, but also to provide the student with an exceptional opportunity to increase her knowledge in that field. It is also possible to identify a research paper by what it is not.
Research: What it is not.
A research paper is not simply an informed summary of a topic by means of primary and secondary sources. It is neither a book report nor an opinion piece nor an expository essay consisting solely of one’s interpretation of a text nor an overview of a particular topic. Instead, it is a genre that requires one to spend time investigating and evaluating sources with the intent to offer interpretations of the texts, and not unconscious regurgitations of those sources. The goal of a research paper is not to inform the reader what others have to say about a topic, but to draw on what others have to say about a topic and engage the sources in order to thoughtfully offer a unique perspective on the issue at hand.
Research Paper: Assignment
The larger paper will be broken up into a series of smaller, digestible assignments to help keep you on course throughout the quarter. The following is a brief overview of the components and their due dates. Working ahead of schedule is encouraged and, as always, I am available to guide you in your research and writing.
- Topic and Questions: due Wednesday, week 3
- Identify a topic and create a number of questions to lead your research
- Outline and Resources: due Wednesday, week 5
- Organize your argument, its support and evaluation
- Locate and assess sources to support said argument
- Rough Draft: due Wednesday, week 7
- Using your outline, develop a clear and concise written argument
- This will be a complete paper, with no missing chunks or conclusions yet to be derived
- Peer Edit: due Monday, week 8
- Review and edit content for others
- Final Draft: due Monday, week 10
Research Paper: Expectations for the Final Draft
- No less than 8 written pages
- Font size 12
- 1 inch margins
- does not include images and illustrations
- Provide images and illustrations
- Will not be included in the length of your paper
- Will be accounted for in the breadth of your paper
- Use parenthetical citation within the text
- Provide an MLA style bibliography
Research Paper: Grading Criteria
- Depth of research
- Critical and original thinking
- Quality of analysis and conclusions
- Professional tone
- Correct citation