Assignment 6. Due: Thursday, March 13

Major Paper #1

Required reading:

Required writing (in a nutshell):

Develop a good "focusing question" for your research project. Then write a paper, of, say, 750-1000 words, in which you discuss (a) your question and (b) the research project that will grow out of it. See "Detailed requirements," below.

Detailed requirements:

In discussing your question [(a), above], explore how your focusing question grows out of your own experiences, interests, beliefs, and values (that is: out of your own "perspective"). Explore also how the focusing question relates to other people's perspectives you've heard in class and--importantly--how it relates to the ideas and perspectives in the assigned readings. Be specific throughout, and quote from the written texts when you can.

In discussing the project [(b), above], be sure to address all of these issues:

  1. Has enough relevant information been published? (How many useful-looking sources has your library CD-ROM search turned up?)
  2. How much published information is available to you at Mortensen Library? How much is available elsewhere nearby? How much will you have to get through Interlibrary Loan?
  3. How much good information is available to you on the Internet? Where, for instance?
  4. In addition to the librarians and me, what people can you talk to for information and advice? Name at least two. (If you don't know their names, at least describe them: "my town's police chief," or "I'll find a professor specializing in Film Studies.")
  5. Some projects might involve less library research and more direct research: surveying 100 people, perhaps, or watching every Clint Eastwood movie. This is perfectly fine. But if your project will be like this, it is essential that you use good methodology in the direct research and that you explain the methodology in this assignment. (A poorly-designed survey is worse than useless.) Get the help of a researcher in your general field in designing your methodology. This could be a professor, a graduate student, possibly a good undergraduate Senior in the field.


(1) For your research paper, you'll be asked to do serious, scholarly research, not merely a work of partisan advocacy. Be especially careful--especially if you have strong feelings about guns--that the focusing question you ask is a real question, not a thinly-disguised proclamation of your feelings.

"How can we rid America of the plague of guns that is destroying so many families?" is not a real question, for research purposes. Neither is, "Why have the socialists been so successful in destroying Americans' God-given right to defend ourselves?"

(2) Because a good research prospectus (such as this paper) is so important to a successful research project, any papers with a grade less than "High C" must be improved and re-submitted.