Parameters & Resources: PART I
AREAS of STUDY and EXAMPLES of TOPICS
A career that interests you as a potential career choice for yourself
A career in which you are deeply interested, even though you do not intend to pursue it as your own vocation
for example, a student whose family has a strong history in law enforcement or the military might choose that topic even if the student did not personally intend to enter the military or pursue a career in law enforcement
An area of intellectual inquiry and engagement that interests you deeply, perhaps an area to pursue in graduate study rather than a “career,” per se
for example, a specialization in psychology or a research area in physics
An artistic pursuit or skill area that interests you significantly as a hobby and that you wish to explore in depth through reading and research
dressage riding, surfing, oil painting, digging for gemstones, slam poetry, organic gardening, a tradition in woodworking, specialty baking
Your research paper in this class will address a topic of personal interest and significance to you. Your first task is to brainstorm ideas for topics and for possible angles on one or more topics.
To reiterate, one requirement—and a key to a successful paper—is that
the topic you explore must relate to you personally in a significant way.
Another key to a successful paper:
The topic you explore must be one you wish to learn more about.
If you are not open to new ideas about your topic, or if you are convinced that you know enough to write as an authority on the topic without exploring new ideas, then your paper is guaranteed to run into trouble.
And one more key to a successful paper:
You must not be so emotionally invested in the topic
that you are unable to consider it clearly.
[Re-read that last statement and think about it as you choose your paper topic and begin your research.]
SOURCES OF INFORMATION
You will use information from at least SEVEN different sources in your paper. The seven sources must include at least one scholarly journal article, one book, one Web source, and one non-scholarly periodical article (newspaper or magazine); you must also conduct one personal (face-to face, telephone, postal mail, or email) interview.
Use at least ONE scholarly journal article. Older journal articles are often just fine, depending on the topic. If you are considering the use of an older article and are not sure of its viability, just ask. Scholarly journal articles may be in print or electronic form. If in doubt whether a source is scholarly, ask me, a librarian, or a consultant at the Writing Center.
Use at least ONE book. E-books count as books. So do printed books. So do book chapters. (No, you need not locate an entire book devoted to your topic.) You may find a book about water recreation, one chapter of which is devoted to kayak fishing in the Keys. If you are writing about saltwater sportfishing and you find useful information in the book chapter about kayak fishing in the Keys, you may count the source as your book.
Use at least ONE source found online via the Web (e.g., through a Google search). This source need not be scholarly, but it must be credible. Do not cite Wikipedia. Do not use any source for which you cannot identify the publisher/sponsor.
Use at least ONE non-scholarly periodical article—that is, an article from a newspaper or magazine. You may use a printed copy or may use an article found online at a magazine or newspaper website. This must be a dated article.
You must conduct at least ONE personal interview with someone who is an authority on your topic; that authority may be established through formal education, through experience in the field, or through some combination of those and other factors. You may conduct this interview in person, by telephone, or by email.
In addition to the above five sources, you must use an additional two sources in your paper. The type of source you choose for these two citations is up to you—a book, a DVD, a pamphlet, or a radio broadcast, for example.
If you are not sure what kind of source material you have found, show it to me or to a librarian. We will tell you how to classify the source.
To review, your paper will cite at least seven sources total, including
at least one scholarly source
at least one book
at least one Web-based source
at least one non-scholarly periodical article
at least one personal interview
two additional sources of your choice
Your research paper will be 1000-2500 words. Aim for about 3-6 pages. (Note: This assignment sheet is about 1650 words.) Type the Word Count at the end of your paper’s text (before the Works Cited page). The Word Count will include all the TEXT of your paper—NOT your heading, NOT your title, NOT the Works Cited page.
You may NOT fall short of the minimum number of words; if so, you will earn a failing grade regardless of the merit of your paper’s content or the beauty of its style. If you exceed the maximum number of words, your paper should show evidence of being tightly woven and carefully reviewed. In other words, you’d better need the extra space in order to bring your absolutely brilliant paper to its natural conclusion.
In addition to the required 1000-2500 words, you will include a Works Cited page. Your Works Cited page is NOT included in the word count.
Do not include a title page. Secure the pages by stapling them in the upper left-hand corner. Format your document according to MLA style, using a 12-point font with serifs (like Times New Roman or Cambria), 1” margins, etc. Please note directions below for submitting the final copy.
Cite quoted material and information that you gather from outside sources and include in your paper. With very few exceptions, you should limit the length of quoted passages to fewer than three lines. Why? With rare exceptions, this paper is too short for block quotes.
You may use headings in addition to your title, but use them wisely. Headings do not take the place of solid organization. You may use graphics including photos, charts, cartoons, and the like. These items will NOT count toward your total 1000-2500 words.