English 1014 Post-test Component 1: A Documented Research

English 1014 Post-test Component 1: A Documented Research
English 1014
Post-test Component 1: A Documented Research Essay
The major post-test component for this course, an MLA documented research essay, challenges you to
research, plan, draft and revise a document enlisting/citing information from three (3) or more
academically valid, reliable sources in order to answer or analyze a focused, limited research question.
Primarily, the formal draft of this research essay should achieve the following goals:
It should be based on a "researchable" question - Try to state or suggest the essay's topic and
primary research question(s) within the introduction. Often the “5W’s and H” method to question
development is a valuable first step toward developing a means of investigating a personal need,
interest or problem that your research will help address.
It has a central thesis or claim - Researchers begin with a question, not an answer, and although
they may hypothesize, researchers are always prepared to be proved wrong. Framing the question
is a crucial and often difficult part of the process. Remember, this thesis should represent your
answer(s) or to the central question(s) posed--even if it's tentative and appears late in the draft.
It uses at least three (3) appropriate and relevant sources - Research essays are not like
encyclopedia entries or the research reports you may have written in high school. They do not
merely present information gathered from source material. Instead, they actively use the
information to explore or answer questions or to test the truth of an idea or thesis.
All sources are cited - The consultation, use and acknowledgment of sources is both a gracious
gesture and a source of authority for you--it indicates that you're party to the ongoing
conversation about your topic. Using the conventions detailed and recommended in class and on
our course web site, be sure to cite all contributing sources and list all those cited on a concluding
Works Cited page.
It addresses an audience of peers – Primarily, this draft provides a vehicle for developing and
conveying working knowledge on a topic; thus, you are not writing to "experts." Instead, envision
your readers as your classmates . . . and/or others who share an interest in the question/topic
you’re addressing.
Potential Topics/Approaches
As much as possible, make a conscious effort to follow your own motivations, needs and/or interests in
selecting and narrowing a central research question for your draft. In other words, at the outset, take the
time for some personal reflection, self-assessment in order to determine a problem, need, goal or curiosity
that might be resolved through the collection of more information. Some of the more common basic
research goals include:
Fact-finding Reports
Problem-Solution Proposals
Cause-Effect Analysis
Market Projections
Literature Reviews
Background Reports
Position Papers
Selecting/Evaluating Sources
Research writing draws on four sources of information: memory or experience, observation, interviews
and reading. It's not unusual to read a personal essay that relies solely on the writer’s memory of an
experience as a source of information. A profile might use two or three sources, including observation and
interview. But a research essay may draw information from all four sources. Writers cast as wide a net as
possible to discover the answers to their questions.
Some basic guidelines for selecting contributing sources for this draft includes:
Scholarly journals, and journalistic publications tend to carry more authority than popular
Electronic sources acquired through academic databases are more suitable for academic writing
than those typically located via general search engines.
Websites and documents affiliated with academic institutions and government entities tend to
prove more reliable than
General reference sources like encyclopedias, dictionaries and/or electronic versions of same (like
Wikipedia) should not be enlisted/cited in academic research writing.
Ultimately, sources are evaluated by the accuracy, fairness, validity, reliability, relevance and
timeliness of the information conveyed. Secondarily, the authority, experience, reputation and
affiliations of a speaker/author should be considered.
Once complete, please submit your documented research essay via the “MyCompLab” link provided in
our “Post-test Portfolio” folder.
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