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Tips for Writing a Scholarly Research Paper

Developing a Topic

Essay 3: Research Paper: Essay 3 is a chance to embark on a larger writing project that allows you to further refine your learned skills, with additional preparation and challenge in the writing process.

Scholarly Investigation/Adding to the Conversation

After reading both Dr. Noble’s Algorithms of Oppression and Roger McNamee’s Zucked, your task is to select one issue/idea raised by the two texts and research it further.

Since the texts may just scratch the surface of many of these issues (and sparks many questions), your job as a writer and researcher is to go further in-depth on a specific layer.

To get started, you’ll need to develop an original research question. To tackle this open-ended, “big burning” thinking question, you have to gather sources to help you develop your own analysis and discussion. What you explore is up to you, but it should be something specific, something that calls for further analysis, and connected to some specific layer presented in Algorithms of Oppression and Zucked. Likewise, the essay should be exploratory in nature. Go beyond what you already know or think. Your research is a look into something new for you and your readers.  

Developing a Topic

Your first goal is to come up with a research question that can prompt your writing project. This focused thinking question is an inquiry that helps you reduce the scope of your topic to something “accomplishable” in 10 FULL pages (this doesn't mean 9 and a half!) and calls for discussion and analysis that is unique/original for your readers. In essence, you want your writing project to be based in critical thinking, building knowledge, and, most importantly, of genuine interest to you. Writing from a place of genuine inquiry will help you see a need for gathering outside sources and sustain your development of a thesis for readers to take away. Start by reflecting on your notes from the texts: What sticks out that’s curious, interesting, puzzling, or needs further explanation/exploration?

Conducting Research/Using Sources (Analytically)

The research process is a chance for you to move outside of our class context and the lens of both Noble and McNamee by engaging with a wider range of sources, voices, and perspectives. The sources that you bring into the essay should act as a lens for you to test, develop, complicate, and evolve your initial claim or question you are setting up early on. Use of sources should be analytical so you do more than just bring in the source to provide facts or “proof” for points you already know to be true. Dealing with your sources, in this case, is a way for you to examine multiple perspectives and develop analysis/discussion.

Conducting Research/Using Sources

In class, we will be talking about how to gather credible sources for your essay, including a close look at the GCC library databases. You may use any type of medium, as long as you can justify its credibility as evidence in your paper (this includes books, documentaries, newspapers, magazines, scholarly journals, online clips, interviews, etc). Keep in mind that online resources are often not very credible nor scholarly; use the internet with caution. Wikipedia, for instance, is not a credible source. Just typing your topic into Google and going with the top choices isn’t really research, as we all know the biases relating to Google searches! Consider where you might gather a good mix of sources, with appropriate credibility, to help you engage your research question.

You’ll want to have a mix of sources to work with. For the essay, you will be required to build conversation with at least five secondary sources, plus Algorithms of Oppression and Zucked.  In that mix of sources must be at least two articles/essays retrieved from the GCC library databases. Therefore, you will have a total of at least seven sources listed on your Works Cited page. Please do not have any more than ten sources.

Assignment Requirements:

? Your essay should be a minimum of 10 full double-spaced pages with 1’’ side margins, 1” header and footer margins, Times New Roman, 12 pt font.

? Your essay should include a strong working thesis to help focus your essay; this is a main complex claim or thinking question you set up early on and develop/refine/complicate as the paper unfolds. Your claims should represent complexity in thinking through your ideas and need to be supported or developed by evidence (details, sources, representative examples).

? Bring in at least five secondary sources, plus Algorithms of Oppression and Zucked, into your essay that you are “in conversation with.” You are required to have at least two articles/essays from the GCC databases. Keep in mind that you want your sources to be credible, or you have to make them credible through your own analysis. Try not to get carried away with sources - you don’t want them to take control of the essay (no more than 10).

? As you incorporate your sources, accurately summarize the ideas, theories, terms, or concepts you are using from that source to offer context (making sure your summary is understandable to a reader who is not familiar with the source you’re introducing). Always include both article name and author name upon first introduction of the text.

? Add to and help develop the ideas from the sources you bring in to help you introduce your own thinking about the topic you are writing about. Your sources should be a springboard for your own claims, questions, and analysis. In other words, you must “do something” with your sources. Be sure to clarify the meaning of the material you have quoted, paraphrased, or summarized and explain its significance in light of your evolving thesis.

? Support your claims with reasoning and evidence - making sure to link the evidence to the claim(s). You’ll want to include a few of the various kinds of evidence available to analytical writers.

? As you move toward the conclusion, address the “so what?” question for your thesis.

? Clearly and explicitly explain your chain of reasoning - that is the thought-connections you are making throughout your draft between claims, evidence, & sources. The more clearly you explain connections to your readers, the more your readers will be able to follow your thinking.

? Cite all sources in MLA format (in text), in addition to a Works Cited page.

? Proofread and edit your paper before turning it in.

? Your essay must be turned in by the due date, on Canvas. No late essays will be accepted.

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