The Research Paper
[A post for students in my ASHA321 course in Fall 2012.]
Unlike your Unessay, your Research Paper will take a more conventional form: a 2500-to-3000-word written argument about any text(s) or media we have covered in the course, using a least two secondary sources.
Research Papers will be on a topic you propose in a post to the course blog at least three weeks before you submit your final draft. (Remember that the most effective critical writing — see my guide — is the culmination of several drafts. I am willing to read some of your drafts, up until the 48 hours before you submit the final one.) Your proposal will offer a few paragraphs detailing your questions and the texts you will use to investigate them.
There is only one restriction on your topic: it must cover materials we have read in a different module than your Unessay has covered / will cover. By ‘module’ I mean sections I, II, III, and IV in our schedule. So if your Unessay is on Darwin, your Research Paper can be on any of the materials in sections II, III, and/or IV.
As for your secondary sources, treat them the way we have treated others in the course — with attention to their methods as much as their arguments: what works, what doesn’t, and why? What research and rhetorical methods have you learned from them beyond transferrable insights?
I define ‘secondary’ as a work of criticism appearing in a peer reviewed or otherwise well regarded source, like a scholarly journal or monograph. There are exceptions, but generally speaking your source (if digital) should have a print avatar; so a book review in the London Review of Books would qualify, while a blog on the same site would be more questionable (even by the same author — yes, this is an arbitrary distinction).
The due dates of your proposal and final draft are the ones we agree to in your Writing Contract.