Research Essay

The Research Essay is an essay that put forth a RESEARCH QUESTION and then attempts to answer it by using PRIMARY and SECONDARY sources/research. It is a five-page assignment (minimum) and must include ALL of the elements numbered 1-5:

1. Research Question: this is the main question that you are putting forth to guide your research process and the Research Essay. It is a question focused around the topic you choose to write about and it is a question you should NOT already know the answer to. This essay will NOT have a Thesis, but, instead, your Research Question will take its place in the introduction and in the essay in general.

Also, your Research Question should NOT be a simple question (i.e. a yes/no question, or a really specific question that has an easy answer, like “Is smoking tobacco cigarettes bad for you?”), but the question should also NOT be way too BIG or general (i.e. a question that you know has no answer or that the answer would be way more complex than a 5-page essay could handle, like “What is the meaning of life?”). Ideally, your questions should land somewhere in the middle, so that you can do your best to answer it in 5 pages with a relatively in depth discussion.

2. Primary Research: this is research that YOU do. YOU are the person conducting the actual research. This includes, but is not limited to: interviews, observations, experiments, surveys, polls, and historical documents/literature. Usually, I require five of these sources for the Research Paper, but I have reduced it to THREE in light of our current circumstances. Let me explain each of these and their specific requirements:

– interviews: this is a question and answer sessions conducted with another person (minimum 10 questions). Usually, I would say it has to be done over the phone or in person, but, due to the current circumstances, I will allow email interviews, as well. In fact, I would suggest you keep interviewing to phone or email. Don’t do it in person unless it happens to be someone you normally see anyway (i.e. someone you live with).

SUBMISSION: to get credit for this for of research, you will need to hand in a full transcript of the interview.

– observations: this is NOT everyday observation, but observation that has been set up with a specific purpose in mind. Now, again, the requirements will be more lax because of the current circumstances, but, in order to complete an observation, you need to observe something related to your topic for at least 30 minutes. While you are observing, you should be writing down the answers to the WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, and WHY of the observation. WHO are you observing? WHAT are you observing? WHEN are you observing? WHERE are you observing? WHY are you observing? AND, also you should be taking general NOTES as you are observing of important things that are happening.

SUBMISSION: Your observations NOTES, including the answers to the WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, and WHY.

– experiments: this will probably be difficult to do right now, but I’ll include an explanation anyway in case anyone finds a creative way to work with it at home. We are NOT a science class, so I do NOT expect anything terribly scientific here. But, proper science experiments usually include some kind of Variable you are testing for and a Control Group and a Variable Group to test for it.

For example, here is a simple experiment I could conduct on the steak seasoning preferences right at home (I don’t think I need to say this, but you obviously CANNOT use this exact idea for your experiment. But, feel free to use it as inspiration). If I want to test whether people prefer fresh garlic or garlic powder to their grilled steaks, I might cook two different steaks: the first with just salt, pepper and fresh garlic (my control group), the second with salt, pepper, and garlic powder (my variable group). Then, I would let each of my family members taste each steak (without knowing which steak had what kind of garlic) and I would have them vote on which they liked best. Not the most scientific experiment, but fine for our purposes.

SUBMISSION: a write up of the EXPERIMENT (again, including the WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, and WHY) and the RESULTS (the conclusion to the experiment).

– surveys: this is kind of like an interview, but it is meant to be given to more people. It should have 5 questions, no more no less, and the questions should be relatively easy to answer, requiring no more than a written sentence or two to provide full detail. Do NOT give yes/no, true/false, or multiple choice questions. I usually require students to have at least 25 responses (i.e. 25 people surveyed) for this to count, but I will be lowering it to 12 for this semester, right around half.

SUBMISSION: You will need to submit the actual Surveys and their responses for credit.

– polls: this is like a survey, but it has only one question and it SHOULD be a yes/no, true/false, or multiple choice question. Something easy that can be answered quickly and with no writing required. I usually require students to get 50 polls done to get credit, but I will be splitting this in half as well, so you only need 25 to get credit.

SUBMISSION: You will need to submit the actual Poll and its responses for credit.

– historical documents/literature: if you are writing about a historical topic, you can use various documents, art, literature, etc., from that time period as primary research. This is NOT a commonly used source, so I won’t say much more about it. If you have any specific questions, though, because you are planning to use this kind of source, please feel free to message me about it and I will be glad to discuss it further with you.

SUBMISSION: To be determined.

3. Secondary Research: this is the more common research that you are probably more used to doing. It includes, but is not limited to, things like: books, articles, magazines, peer-reviewed journals, documentaries, Youtube videos, etc. You will be required to have THREE of these in the Research Essay, but you will NOT have any other limits on these requirements (I usually require that students have one peer-reviewed journal, etc.). As long as you have THREE sources from this category, you will be fine.

SUBMISSION: Not required, as long as you properly use MLA citation in your Works Cited page, so that I can go look up your sources if I need to.

4. Academic Essay Structure: We have already discussed this thoroughly. It is exactly the same structure that we discussed with the Persuasive Essay (i.e. Introduction and all of its parts, Body paragraphs and all of their parts, and the Conclusion and all of its parts).

5. Adios Techniques: for this draft the Adios techniques to include are Anecdoting, Freighting (Verb, Noun, Adjective), Telescoping (Zooming, Panning), Very Short Sentence, Melted-together Word, Hieroglyphics (Semi-colon, Colon, Dash, Parentheses), Super-literalism, Bursting (only ONE of the following: Mocking, Devil’s Advice, Trojan Horse), Echoing (ONE technique), Netting (ONE technique), and Masquerading (ONE technique).

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