Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Research Assignment

ENGL 102: Research Assignment

Assignment: Annotated Bibliography and Essay

Topic: Your Own Choice (but please discuss with me and choose by 5th November)

Overview: This assignment gives you the opportunity to ask and find some answers to questions that have arisen so far during our course and the readings we have completed. You will begin with a question that you have formulated.

Your research process will begin with background reading to learn more about your topic. As you read, you will be performing a wide general search, finding out about the general subject: what is there to know? What are the central issues? What do scholars seem to disagree about? What do they agree on? Is there anything still undiscovered or unknown? What steps are being taken to find out? As you read, research and discover, you will be narrowing the field to an aspect of the topic that you find yourself drawn to or deeply interested in.

Subject Areas: Based on class readings some topics might include:
• The evolution of language
• Sports and nationhood
• Population rates and parenthood
• Terrorism
• Conflict
• Gang Violence
• Addiction
• Innate intelligence
• Pandemics

Part 1: Choose 3 “academic” resources that are highly relevant to your topic. These sources can be online but they must be peer reviewed (not simply self-published or unvetted). Give full MLA reference information for each source and thoroughly explain why each resource is appropriate and relevant to your topic. Additionally, include how each resource was found (include keywords used in any Google searching). Each annotated entry should contain three critical writing tasks: summary (an overview of the main points), analysis (logic and effectiveness of the argument) and evaluation (ethos, reliability of the author and argument).

Part 2: Once you have your three academic resources and you’ve written your annotations (see above), craft a 3-4 page essay. In the essay discuss what you have learned from the reading/research process and the writing of the summaries. What was your general topic or area? What were your question/s – what did you want to find out? What did you discover? How has your research helped you to understand the questions better or to find the answers you seek? What do scholars say about this topic or particular aspect of the topic? Are there any areas upon which scholars disagree? How about areas with which you disagree? What aspects or directions of thought do scholars say still require development and research? How helpful were the materials you summarised? What would you still like to know? What further research might you do if you have the time?

Note: Your essay for Part 2 should begin with an introduction to the subject area, followed by a discussion of the three articles, and your assessment of them and your own learning, as per the questions noted above.

Purpose: Learn basic methodologies of research, learn how to locate and evaluate information, learn how to find appropriate resources, evaluate and synthesise arguments, critique thinking, and employ critical reasoning and writing strategies

Length: Each annotation should consist of at least one fully-formed paragraph with complete reference information in MLA style. The essay itself should consist of 3-4 pages. The total length should be 4.5-6 pages.

DUE: 24th November 2009


Lamott, Anne. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. New York:
    Anchor Books, 1995.

Lamott's book offers honest advice on the nature of a writing life, complete with its insecurities and failures. Taking a humorous approach to the realities of being a writer, the chapters in Lamott's book are wry and anecdotal and offer advice on everything from plot development to jealousy, from perfectionism to struggling with one's own internal critic. In the process, Lamott includes writing exercises designed to be both productive and fun.
Lamott offers sane advice for those struggling with the anxieties of writing, but her main project seems to be offering the reader a reality check regarding writing, publishing, and struggling with one's own imperfect humanity in the process. Rather than a practical handbook to producing and/or publishing, this text is indispensable because of its honest perspective, its down-to-earth humor, and its encouraging approach.
Chapters in this text could easily be included in the curriculum for a writing class. Several of the chapters in Part 1 address the writing process and would serve to generate discussion on students' own drafting and revising processes. Some of the writing exercises would also be appropriate for generating classroom writing exercises. Students should find Lamott's style both engaging and enjoyable.

Note the indentation of all the text except for the first line of the reference.

For more information and style guidelines, visit the Online Writing Centre:

Note: image from Warwick University.

1 comment:

  1. An essay can do this in many different ways such as exploring a topic in depth, construct a clear and strong argument. A persuasive essay on the purpose and structure of essays will be written from scratch, so you do not have to worry about its originality.

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