Research Paper Details

Term Papers:

I am asking you to identify a question about rhetoric , rhetorical theory, composition, or composition theory to explore during the term and to report on at the end.  This assignment is built to mimic professional genres as closely as possible and so you will face the same challenges we all face as we try to do research.  Below I mention some of the specific challenges, but there will certainly be others.

  1. Teasing out history that may be relevant to understanding your question.
  2. Revising your question because there is is too much or too little information available.
  3. Balancing your personal goals for the research with the limits of the assignment and practical limits on your time.
  4. Creating a coherent piece of writing from research that may not be complete when the writing deadline arrives and/or from results which do not match your goals or expectations.
  5. Choosing the best form in which to organize and write everything.


  1. You may find that your writing is easier to organize if you keep a reading journal, and annotated bibliography, or do some other writing every week as your research progresses.
  2. Notice which articles or books are easiest for you to read yourself.  Might they provide models you can follow?
  3. Talk about what you are discovering with classmates.  Explaining it to them will help you clarify your own ideas, and they may offer valuable comments.  Get feedback on writing, even on very short pieces, like a paragraph or two.  This can be especially helpful if a passages seems tangled, or you get stuck.  Fresh yes can often help us see what’s actually on the page, or not.


A 750-1000 word proposal that presents your question, explains why it needs to be answered, lays out the scope of the research you plan, including the kinds of sources you expect to use, and explains why those are the appropriate kinds of sources.  In explaining why this question is important and the approach you plan to take is best, you should refer to 2-3 background sources that support your argument.

The proposal should be posted as an entry here, category: 5001, tag: proposal

A 6000-8000 word research paper that includes:

  1. A 200 word informative abstract.
  2. An introduction covering question, scope, background—situate the question and scope in existing history and theory
  3. Approach/methods and justification thereof
  4. Results—what did you actually discover?
  5. Conclusion—what does it mean, what might you do differently were you to go further with this, and what other research ought to be undertaken in order to better understand this question and your findings?
  6. A bibliography written according to MLA format.
  7. In-text citations should also follow MLA format.  Though this is not always the case professionally, footnotes are allowed and I prefer then to end notes.
  8. A 10 min. oral presentation that includes visual aids and that can be posted here.

When the paper is complete, you will make a post here that consists of your abstract as the actual text of the post, and the paper attached as a PDF file.

The paper should have the category: 5001, and the tag: research paper.

1 comment for “Research Paper Details

  1. Keri
    March 4, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    When is the proposal to be posted?

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