Assignment: Research Project

Mechanics: Format depends on project modality.


Most a rigorous academic research projects include: 1) exploring various sides and contexts of a topic, 2) making a claim based on your own interpretations, assertions, solutions, or “take” on the topic, and 3) synthesizing your claim with those of other scholars into a coherent argument. For this Research Project, you may explore any line of inquiry about any topic. The only criteria for this Research Project, along with the basic format requirements of a research project (introduction, body, MLA formatting, etc.), are that:

· It must be an original, complex, specific, and debatable claim based on your own “take” on, interpretation of, solution to, or new way of thinking about a “research problem” that uses your research to build your own argument or may be a complex synthesis of or commentary on the research you’ve done.

· It must include 4 researched, scholarly sources. Scholarly sources are essays, books, or chapters written by experts in their field published in peer-reviewed journals or academic presses. You may use other forms of evidence, but your project must include at least 4 scholarly sources.

· It must engage all 5 of University of Washington, Bothell’s First Year and Pre-Major Program’s Learning Goals (LGs) (see below and Canvas Syllabus). Two of the LGs (Communication, Critical and Creative Inquiry) are about writing and/or research so those will be covered by any research paper. The LG of Quantitative and Qualitative Literacies will be engaged by including analysis of some quantitative and some qualitative data into your project, which means analyzing at least one piece of evidence based on numerical/graphic data and one based on concepts, language, or visual, social, historical, etc. texts. The task for most will be to choose a topic that engages the way that Inclusive Practices and Ethics and Social Responsibility could influence, be included into, or help formulate your take on your chosen topic.

· You may also choose the modality through which you compose and present your Research Project. We’ll discuss some examples but this means that you can, if you choose, write a 6-page minimum research paper in an academic genre (such as a Literature Review or build your own original argument) or you can create and compose a video project (such as a news story, “Tedtalk,” or John Oliver-type format), a podcast or radio show, a webpage/blog, or a zine, pamphlet, news article, or other more public-focused scholarship or the same length/amount of work as a 6 page paper. I’m open to format but all Research Projects must adhere to the guidelines above and below.

Writing Guidelines Checklist

Each Research Project should:

· Introduce a specific claim and a critical research question that focuses on your “take” on the topic. Every project must provide a specific, complex, debatable claim based in your interpretation or solution for the research problem you describe.

· Describe the research problem/topic Every project must include a detailed, cogent discussion of a topic, including an explanation of the “problem,” as Booth defines this term.

· Synthesize 4 scholarly sources to support your claim. Every project must include some discussion of how other scholars discuss your topic by introducinganalyzing (use SP3), and use 4 scholarly sources to explain your own ideas. (You may also use other sources or texts to make your claim.)

· Build an argument based on your original interpretations, critiques, assertions, etc. about your topic that analyzes your evidence and sources to support your claim. Every project must give a detailed, analytical discussion of how each of the particular points you are making should persuade people to accept the validity of your ways of thinking on the subject you choose.

· Conclude your project with some discussion of the stakes, or importance, relevance, new ways of thinking being offered, or implications/consequences of your argument.

· Engage the Learning Goals explicitly. Either by having a project that clearly engages the ideas in the LGs or uses explicit language to signal where, for instance, “inclusive practices” are being discussed.

· Organize your argument clearly using transitions that connect all points of evidence to the claim and other points. Every project must include an introduction that explains the research problem and states the claim and a conclusion that leaves the reader with a final thought about the stakes of your research. Every project must include a Works Cited or Reference list and cite all sources/evidence.

Choosing a Topic

Research Project topics are entirely up to you, though you need to be able to make an argument about the topic, which means generating your own main point and using research to persuade your audience that your thinking on the subject is valid and sound. There are, literally, an infinite amount of topics you can choose to research, depending on your interests. To get started:

· First and foremost, you should choose a broad topic that you are interested in and want to learn about and that you are passionate enough about to spend several weeks thinking about.

· Start some preliminary research to narrow the topic. What parts of your broad topic are you really interested in exploring? This is the google search and Wikipedia phase of research for background info.

· Ask questions about the specific aspects of your topic that seem worth exploring.

· Jot down some keywords and concepts that seem most important to your topic.

· Consider the stakes, or the importance, of your topic for yourself and for particular audiences.

· Write out some clear, concise, and specific topic ideas and then think about how the topic can be made more complex and debatable but asking yourself “how and why” your and others’ ideas work.

· Then formulate your own claim on the topic in relation to other scholars’ research based on:

· making your own assertation about a “research problem” (Booth’s language) after doing research.

· interpreting data or a historical, cultural, social, or textual example to anchor your thoughts.

· proposing a solution to an issue you define through research.

· agreeing with a source’s claim about your issue/problem and then altering or adding to it a bit.

· disagreeing with the main claim or even just a small (though relevant, which you’ll need to make an argument about) point and offer an alternative way of thinking.

· re-focusing the conversation as you see it in your research; you can, in other words, make a claim that gives an “I think this part here is really the most important thing to think about” argument.

Examples of Topics/Critical Research Questions

Your claim might focus on the way that the thinking described in the LGs influences current events, personal experience, disciplines/majors, careers, social relations, textual interpretations, or anything that is important to you. The following examples of research questions focus on that kind of claim.

· What is the “social responsibility” associated with and the inclusive practices necessary to engage any of the following topics based on the analysis of historical events and social issues?

· Racial issues such as the legacy of American chattel slavery, Japanese internment, Islamophobia, racial profiling/prison industrial complex/privatization of prisons, or immigration debates

· Gender issues like debates about feminism, the salary gap, rape culture, women’s leadership abilities, differing intelligences, reproductive rights

· Sexuality issues such as LGBTQIA rights, gay marriage politics, conversion therapy, transphobia/murder rate of trans folks, “religious freedom”

· Class issues such as income inequality, union membership, food insecurity on campus, homelessness

· How does race, gender, sexuality, class, dis/ability, etc. influence one’s experiences and opportunities in different educational fields (such as STEM)? In the workplace? Housing? With climate change or other environmental issues? Or any current event, historical moment, etc. and which “inclusive practices” might work toward equal opportunities in these fields??

· What is the “social responsibility” of global companies like Facebook, Twitter, etc. to enable “inclusive practices” on its platforms?

· You can also write about any scientific, social scientific, current event/debates, social issue, etc. topic.

First Year and Pre-Major Program Learning Goals

Your written work in this class will be focused on your own research interests as they relate to the following Learning Goals. Your main research project will choose any topic that engages all five of these FYPP Learning Goals (also available at ). The first three involve ways of communicating and learning; the last two engage social interaction. Some of the learning goals are apparent in any good research writing, but I think your task will be to find a topic that uses involves the last two goals in some way and finding research with both quantitative and qualitative evidence.

Communication is the process of written, oral, performative, and multimedia interaction that enables us to share ideas and practices. This goal includes the ability to

· communicate persuasively to different audiences with appropriate media.

· practice writing in its many genres across the curriculum.

· develop dialogical skills that include listening actively to alternative perspectives.

· understand relationships between knowledge, power, and communication.

Critical and Creative Inquiry joins reason and imagination to make, investigate, critique, and pursue meaning in the arts, humanities, and the social and natural sciences. It includes the ability to

· employ different ways of creating, interpreting, and transmitting new ideas, works, and knowledge in a responsible manner.

· make effective use of information across print, visual, electronic, and other media to seek, shape, and evaluate evidence.

· respond, both critically and creatively, to a variety of texts, questions, and problems in order to draw informed conclusions

· become more aware of personal and collective assumptions.

Quantitative and Qualitative Literacies are complementary ways to understand problems, issues, and questions. These practices foster the ability to

· design quantitative and qualitative methods to approach problems and inform evidence-based responses.

· mobilize evidence across quantitative and qualitative skills, such as interpreting magnitudes, measurements, statistics, narratives, ethnographies, and maps.

· understand how different types of data are generated, their range of precision, validity, and limits.

· use symbolic representations- graphs, formulate, words, diagrams, maps, and equations- to identify, analyze, and communicate relationships among sets of information.

Ethics and Social Responsibility explores our connections with each other across cultures, languages, natural resources, and values by learning to

· articulate the relationships between local, national, and global events.

· understand how values are shaped and influence decisions.

· analyze the relationship between knowledge and ethics in specific contexts.

· create connections between individual and social identities.

Inclusive Practices focus on how best to deepen the richness of human experience – with its differences of race, gender, ability, religion, age, language, sexual orientation, and class – by developing capacities to

· identify our own and others’ ways of knowing- verbal, visual, kinetic, auditory- and make use of those different capacities.

· understand relationships between individuals, institutions, and authority.

· compare and contrast different cultural voices, traditions, and ways of interacting with the world.

· exchange ideas with different communities, both on campus and beyond.

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