The Task: to write a 1700+ word page research-based essay which provides your readers with the information you believe they need to know in order to better understand a topic that a) captures your interest or concern, and b) is directly or indirectly related to any of our readings. Please know that I must approve the topic as you initially define it before you set out to begin collecting research; for suggestions, see Research Topics in Weekly Coursework for some possibilities. Choose an issue that you care about and are sufficiently interested in to want to explore. Do not choose an issue or question that you are unwilling to examine critically (i.e., consider various arguments about).
Please know that your eventual subject here may be one about which people have differing points of view about. Since this is a two-part sequence—your final, argumentative paper (#4) will argue on behalf of a position related to your research topic (paper #3)—you need to choose something of sufficient complexity about which reasonable people can disagree. (Note: for paper #4, in the event you can’t define a position, your fallback position will be to write a critical essay in response to topics I make available during Weeks ten or eleven, most likely on Arundhati Roy’s book).
For this research paper, pretend that you are on the staff of a professional researcher, administrator, venture capitalist, CEO or CTO (Chief Technology Officer), elected official, or other decision maker who wants to know more about the issue you have chosen. This person asks you to gather, organize, and summarize the crucial background information, the range of opinions, and the arguments s/he needs to know in order to make an informed and responsible decision related to the issue you’ve chosen.
The purpose of this paper is to present background information and various hypotheses, opinions, and positions, not necessarily to resolve issues or make recommendations. Your main rhetorical task is to present yourself as a reliable, trustworthy, organized and lucid reporter on the issue rather than as an advocate of a position. (A focused or overt advocacy will come later in the Argument paper, your final paper of the term.)
Format: 1,700 words plus words with at least five outside sources (at least three of them print sources, which is to say, text/words/language as opposed to film/oral interview, etc.). You must also include a “Works Cited” (bibliography) page at the end of your paper and you must use in-text citation for quotes and facts. Concerning the body of your paper, the goal here is to integrate the skills you’ve been sharpening this quarter—of reading, analysis, paraphrase, quotation & citation, and of giving breadth to your interpretations, all while at the same time controlling the overall direction of your paper.
Outside sources means not counting our course texts—you can use them, but they won’t count toward your five.
*Post topic proposal by Sunday : 1) Describe the topic you are going to write about; 2) list the specific question or questions you expect to explore; 3) explain why this issue is of interest to you; 4) briefly summarize a web page or web site, or an essay, article, or book about the topic and 5) discuss the feasibility of the project, that is, how you know that you can do the necessary research in the available time
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