The Research Paper

Assignment #3: The Research Paper

Final Research Paper DUE December 17, at 7pm

What is a research paper?

Like the text-in-context essay, the purpose of this assignment is to make you capable researchers, researchers that understand a particular subject and enter into conversation with others who are addressing the same problem or question. This component of the class will help you understand what’s happening in the academic literature on your topic. Once you understand the academic debates that have already occurred (by doing research and reading articles on your topic), then you will be better situated to enter an ongoing conversation. This conversation is known as a dialectical conversation, as opposed to a polemical conversation.

Taking what you’ve learned from your textual analysis and your text-in-context paper, you will extend the length and breadth of your focus for the research paper. Since you already have experience finding academic articles for secondary resources, this assignment will help solidify your research skills by using one song as the primary text and using five secondary sources from scholarly journals.

Now, about the song: I want you to choose a song that we have discussed in class. It could be a song from the listening assignments, or it could be a song that we read about in one of the articles. But your song must have been performed—and recreated sonically or linguistically—by more than one group over the course of the last fifty years.

Once again, the essay should make strong supportable claims about the primary text and be supported by the secondary material. Thus the topic of the essay will connect some aspect of context in which the text was written or has been examined to your interpretation of that primary text; in other words, you will both analyze the text and directly discuss its place in its context.

There are three steps to this essay:

You will write and turn in for a grade 1) a literature review, 2) an abstract, and 3) the final research paper, between nine and twelve pages long and in MLA format.

*Please note that we will not have peer review for this paper, nor will you have a chance to rewrite the literature review or the abstract. Thus, I highly recommend going back over my comments on your first lit reviews/ abstracts for guidance. Both the lit review and the abstract will follow the same format as outlined below:

The Literature Review

The literature review helps you to understand the argument of an academic article that you have researched. In four to five sentences, you should be able to summarize the main idea and the main argument of each piece that you read. Please provide five annotations. THE LITERATURE REVIEW IS DUE 11/29. Do not hesitate to contact me if you are having any problems. Please format them correctly, with the citation (in MLA style) before your two to three sentence summary.

The Abstract

In one short paragraph (4-5 sentences) you should be able to tailor your research to one guiding principle. Because you have limited space, your topic should be some aspect of the lyric that you are interested in. You may want to begin by asking critical questions that may lead you to refine your topic even more. Remember this essay is relatively short for a research paper so a more focused topic will serve you better. I strongly encourage you to ask questions rather than state a position at this point. You may want to begin by creating a thesis question: something you plan on investigating. Begin with some preliminary investigation by looking at secondary sources. THE ABSTRACT IS DUE 12/4. Do not hesitate to contact me if you are having any problems.

Learning Objectives:

After completing the research project assignment, you will be able to

•        discuss in detail the major issues that frame your chosen research area;

•        use the internet to locate research articles in the library’s electronic databases;

•        critically analyze research articles;

•       integrate other researcher’s ideas into your own argument (without plagiarizing);

•         effectively and appropriately organize ideas in written report;

•         present a credible argument in a written report.


Questions to help you explore the significance of your project:

•        Is it a small part of a bigger puzzle? Could your research project provide one piece of an important puzzle?

•        Will answering your question lead to better understanding of a phenomenon or situation?

•        Will your research project increase the knowledge about an object or text?

•       Will your answers help explain characteristics of a group of people, a behavior, or situation?

•        Will your answers provide possible solutions to a problem?

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