Goals and Syllabus
The Research Paper is due Monday, March 11.
The Research Paper:
- addresses a significant interpretive question related to your section’s topic area
- has an arguable, interpretive thesis
- uses a minimum of 6 sources, including both primary and secondary sources and at least one scholarly article
- will be 8-10 pages (about 2400-3000 words), double-spaced, using 11 or 12-point font.
We will begin the research unit on February 13. Your instructor will provide you with your assignment for that day and will distribute a syllabus for the research project. Be sure to follow the due dates and deadlines of this syllabus.
Paideia I Reader, Spring 2013
Little Seagull Handbook
p. 68, R-1a Considering the Context for Your Research R-1a
On the Library Guide page for your section, there are links to Research Worksheets that your instructor may or may not assign. These are organized to help you move successfully through the research process. Completing a paper like this takes time and organizational skills. Some instructors may want you to keep all of your work for the research paper in an organized place, like a portfolio, or what is sometimes called a “research notebook” and some may ask that you keep a blog on your research progress, so they can follow along with your process and questions.
No matter how your instructor asks you to organize the material, you should be prepared to keep all of your work on the paper, both formal and informal assignments, in one place. This will allow you to keep track of your progress, and it will help your instructor follow your work along the way. Some of these assignments will be collected by your instructor and some won’t, but all of the stages listed on your section’s schedule are necessary for completing a successful research paper.
Research Process Overview
Frequently Asked Questions about the Research Essay
Below are the common goals for the research paper, followed by some frequently asked questions. The answers are shorter versions of pages 37-41 in the Paideia Reader.
The research essay will address a significant interpretive question related to your topic area.
Q: What type of research paper is this?
A: This paper attempts to answer a significant question, whether that’s a historical question, a philosophical question, or a question about how people living in a certain time and place expressed themselves. This research paper approaches research from the perspective that people, places, events, and culture are always grounded in a particular time and place, and your research must somehow acknowledge that specific context, no matter what kind of question you are asking.
Your research question may be historical, like Natalie Zemon Davis’s in The Return of Martin Guerre, or it may be of another type. Consider for example these questions:
- What responsibility should a researcher like Dr. George Gey have toward informing family members what will happen to the cells of a family member like Henrietta Lacks? (ethical question)
- How does Frederick Douglass’s use of language -- such as metaphor, irony, or allusions to the Bible -- shape and give power to his Narrative? (a literary or aesthetic question)
- What exactly did Plato mean by “the good”? (a philosophical question)
- Why did the Framers of the Constitution not use the words “slave” or “slavery”? (a political and historical question)
The research essay will have an arguable, interpretive thesis (just like those papers you wrote in fall semester).
Q: What is an arguable, interpretive thesis?
A: As you can see from the examples above, an interpretive thesis explains the “what?” “how?” “why?” or “so what?” of the research question. This explanation may be tentative or even a bit vague in the early drafts of your paper but become increasingly clear as you do more research and continue to revise your thesis. The sample research paper will likely provide a good example of “an arguable, interpretive thesis.”
In the research essay, you will use a minimum of 6 sources, taken FROM PREUS LIBRARY.
Q: Why from Preus Library?
A: Preus Library sources include print and electronic journals available through Encore and the resource links included on the Library Research homepage. The library has worked to build its collection in topic areas most often used in Paideia, so you should find excellent resources in Preus. With this project, you will become familiar and confident using the resources and services available through Preus Library—resources you will continue to use throughout your time at Luther College.
Your research essay will include a range of both primary and secondary sources
Q: What are primary and secondary sources?
A: A primary source is a document or artifact created during or as near as possible to the historical period under consideration. It is “primary” because it provides a direct link to the period, since it was created by someone at or near the time of the event. Primary sources include eyewitness accounts, autobiographies and memoirs, diaries, letters, speeches, interviews, official documents such as laws or court decisions, literary or musical works, and artifacts such as photographs or paintings.
A secondary source is an analysis in which a scholar synthesizes and interprets evidence from the past. It is “secondary” because it does not come directly from the period under consideration, but uses sources that do (along with other secondary sources written by other scholars) to produce a coherent, focused study. Some examples of secondary sources include: textbooks, encyclopedia articles, articles from academic journals or academic websites, articles found in edited books, and full-length monographs (books on one particular subject).
Your research paper will include at least one scholarly article related to your topic and thesis.
Q. What’s a scholarly article?
A. Scholarly articles are argumentative essays written for academics and professionals in scholarly language specific to their profession or field, with footnotes and a list of citations at the end of the article, and appearing in academic journals or book-length collections of scholarly essays.
Research 101 Tutorial
Check out this short tutorial segment if you would like more information about the information cycle and sources.
Your instructor will have a sample paper, specifically suited to your topic, on your class KATIE site or may hand out a sample paper for discussion in class. The sample paper will show you an example of how to establish an arguable thesis and how to incorporate a range of soruces into your paper in developing your argument. Consider the following questions as you evaluate the sample paper:
• In your own words, what do you see as the central argument or thesis of this paper? What question or problem does the paper try to resolve? Why is that question significant?
• How is the paper arranged? How easy was it for you to follow along with the organization of the paper? How did the writer signal to the reader that the paper was moving on to different sections of the argument?
• How did the writer incorporate sources into the argument? Were some sources used less effectively than others? Were some sources used too much? Find an example in the paper where the writer used information from a source and then gave an interpretation of that information, signaling to the reader which was which.