Written Communication I
Although you will have several weeks to complete this project, you must start it now to meet interim deadlines for the research, Writing Center session, and final research paper (RP).
You will conduct research and write a 5 to 6-page essay (approximately 1,500 words) about an important issue facing this region or the state of Florida. Communities across the nation face issues such as: segregation, jobs, environmental conservation, immigration, cost of living, ageing communities, part-time residents, urban decay, etc.
Each issue listed above has been a problem at some point or another (or right now!) locally, or statewide. In this research paper, you will select an issue and offer a proposed solution. The research you do should establish the credibility of your issue and inform your solution.
Formulating Your Research Question
A research question articulates what it is you want to learn about a topic. It should guide your search for answers. A research question is NOT the same thing as a thesis statement. A research question makes an inquiry that a thesis statement answers. Your research should help you answer the question and formulate a thesis statement.
• Is the topic arguable? That is, can you take a clear position about the topic and support your position with a strong thesis? Using the second research question listed in my examples above, I may write a thesis that claims, Young startups and families are unable to reside in Sarasota because of the cost of living and the lack of opportunity. This is an arguable, supportable thesis.
• Is the topic researchable? You may have first-hand knowledge or ideas about a topic, but if other people haven’t published on the topic, then you will not find any research. In the case of environmental conservation, its costs, and its estimated savings, much has been published in newspapers, magazines, academic journals, and on web sites. I shouldn’t have any problem finding good, reliable sources to support my argument.
• Is the topic worth arguing? I usually ask myself if the topic and position I’m arguing passes the “so what?” test. For example, in considering my thesis, Young startups and families are unable to reside in Sarasota because of the cost of living and the lack of opportunity. I have to ask if this topic matters to anyone: does it matter to me? to my readers? If the answer is yes, then perhaps the topic is worth arguing.
There are three categories of topics that can NOT be argued in a research paper.
• Verifiable facts. I can’t argue, for example, that the world is flat because everyone agrees that the world is round. The facts as we know and understand them are irrefutable.
• Faith / personal belief. No one can argue matters of faith in a research paper. Faith, by its very definition, denotes belief without proof. Research papers are built on evidence.
• Opinions / personal taste. I happen to love jazz and blues music but dislike rap. The fact that I think the instrumentals and vocals in jazz and blues are superior to those in rap music is not an arguable position because many people, perhaps even some of you, would disagree with me and neither of us could prove our points with research, just opinions.
So be careful in the questioning and thesis stages of your research paper that you don’t fall into one of these three non-arguable traps.
Conducting Your Research
Your research question will determine where you may go to find sources. If I’m researching about environmental conservation in Sarasota, I may look to journals and trade magazines that feature residential construction, energy efficient alternatives to electricity or coal, and green construction methods. I may also look to scientific magazines that feature new technologies for residential uses and governmental and quasi-governmental agency websites and documents that pertain to energy use and development. I may even find articles that address my topic in the newspaper’s Neighborhood or Housing sections.
In addition, I may also search the Internet for web sites and ask the librarians to help me access the SCF library databases (librarians know where to find almost anything and are always willing to help). You may even know and interview people who are experts on your topic (this type of investigation would result in primary, not secondary, research).
For purposes of this assignment, you may use only ONE Internet web site as a source. The other TWO sources should come from journals, magazines, newspapers, or other media. One more thing: a web site is NOT the same thing as a source available on the web on electronically. You must know and understand the difference!
Finally, you may NOT use any blogs, wikis, or online chat forums as research sources. You should recognize that these types of sources lack credibility (this comes into question with ethos) and instead of supporting your arguments may, in fact, detract from them.
Always keep this in mind: I am not interested in what you write; I want to see if you can go through the process of writing a research paper, which means developing a thesis statement, collecting academic sources, incorporating those sources into a scholarly piece of writing, and receiving feedback from a Writing Consultant. Nothing more, nothing less.
You will upload the research paper as a Word Document to the Canvas Dropbox. The Dropbox will be opened on Monday, November 23 at midnight and close on Sunday, November 29 at 11:59 PM. As per class policy, late work will not be accepted for any reason. No exceptions.