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Creative Research Proposal

Essay #3: Creative Research Paper (20% of course grade)

For essay #3, a creative research paper, you will be writing a 6-8 page paper on a topic of your choice. A unique aspect of this project is that you are required to do field work (interviews, observations, participation), along with library research, which should make this a more memorable experience for you.

All the better if your research paper departs from the conventional academic format. Along with credible sources, you may use graphics, video, artwork, etc. to convey your message. Build a nuanced argument using effective sources and a sensible organization. It’s vital that you choose a topic that engages and excites you. This should be an original paper, not a research paper that you wrote for another class.


length: 6-8 pages

Works Cited and Works Consulted (if needed), including citations for interviews, Youtube, Facebook, etc).


Reading: At least 80pages of reading (a minimum of 4 sources). You must use a minimum of 3 library sources. This could include books, articles and newspapers from the databases, reference sources, etc., at DVC library or another library.

Field Work: In addition to the above, you must use at least 3 items of field work drawn from at least two of these categories:

  • Interviews
  • Observation
  • Participatory Experience*

*A participatory experience involves doing something yourself, not just watching it be done. This could include cooking a meal, marching in a protest, volunteering at an environmental organization, applying for a modeling agency, rotating the wheels on your car, writing a piece of music, etc.

Other optional sources: workshops and cultural events

Media 1 (film, music, photos, visuals)

Media 2 (film, music, photos, visuals that you create).



We will also work on developing a Critical Question to help focus your research. Rather than just giving a factual, encyclopedic account, you’ll want to present an arguable thesis answering a question of significance and interest. Your critical question should be along the lines of the following questions, but narrowed to fit your specific topic:

What problem under your topic needs solving or addressing? What’s the problem with the solutions?

What standards of judging something exist in your area? Where are the disputes?

What ethical or moral issue(s) exist that need exploring?

What do you envision the future would look like for your topic (based on a careful look at the present and past)?

What do the best thinkers think and argue about? What do the experts disagree about?

What’s been the influence of a particular person or subject on our culture?

How do you account for an interesting, complicated, inexplicable, or perplexing aspect of our current society?



Critical Question Litmus

(Write your Critical Question (CQ) on a notecard and run it through these tests with your peers to see how you might make it better)


  1. Yes-No Test: Is CQ a yes/no question? (It shouldn’t be).


  1. Been There, Done That Test: Does your CQ feel like it’s been asked, discussed, and answered many times before (since high school)? ( It shouldn’t.)


  1. Is your CQ open-ended, speculative, disputable in a fair way (reasonable, smart, wise people will legitimately disagree). (It should be)
  2. Hey, That’s My Old Research Paper Test: Will the answer to your CQ create a conventional, familiar research paper (based mostly on information available by reading) (It shouldn’t).


  1. Critical Thinking Test: Will answering your CQ force you to do high level analysis (the higher levels on Bloom’s taxonomy)? analysis, synthesis, evaluation (It should).


  1. Creativity Test: Is your topic and CQ well-suited to the spirit of the assignment (traditional/web reading, interviews, observing, doing yourself, critical thinking)?


  1. Know-It-All Test: Do you already know the answer to your CQ before you start your project? (you shouldn’t)


  1. Where does your topic and CQ fall on the passion scale? Does your topic/CQ fascinate and excite you? Do you actually want to explore the answers to the CQ?


Research Checklist: Make a list of important sources you should check. Think of creative ways to search, using not only your topic (memory) but also prominent people in the field (Oliver Sacks), related topics (brain functioning), or even the opposite (forgetting).


Creative Research Proposal:

  1. At the start of your proposal, explain what your final Creative Research topic is (you can’t change the topic. You should choose something you are really interested in so that you can develop your research over the time period needed). Then write one (or possibly two or three) Critical Questions on your chosen topic.
  2. Write a paragraph explaining what draws you to the topic. What makes you curious? What do you love about this topic? What might you expect to find out? What do you know about your topic? What would you like to know? As you plan your project, consider how your questions will require you to participate in critical thinking–analysis, synthesis, evaluation.
  3. Report on what you have read so far, both traditional and online. You can include reading that you’ve done in the past.
  4. Report on what you plan to do–who you might interview, what you might observe, what you might do for participation, what you might create.
  5. Tip: Start making a works cited right now and develop a system to keep track of which source you found what information from.
  6. Questions or concerns? Include these in your proposal.



Thurs. 3/14 Final research proposal due.

Thurs. 4/11Research question due and research checklist due.

Thurs. 4/25 Two versions of your introduction for essay 3 due

Thurs. 5/2 Annotated Bibliography and half-draft of essay 3 due

Tues. 5/7 Full draft of essay 3 due

Thurs. 5/16 Final paper due (Final paper, Drafts, Scans or screen shots of a page from each source, Peer Review Sheets, Research Proposal, Research checklist, and Annotated Bibliography)


  • You must provide SCANS OR SCREENSHOTS of selected pages from all printed source materials you use for this essay as well as Internet sources. You must also submit an Annotated Bibliography. These are required parts of this assignment, and your essay will not be accepted if not accompanied by photocopies/printouts of selected pages from your sources and an annotated bibliography. In your Works Cited list, include full information about all of the sources you used or consulted.
  • No Plagiarism! Do not copy your essay or any phrases in your essay from the web or any other source, unless you use quotations and give proper bibliographic citations. Also, please write this original paper yourself and do not reuse a research paper from a previous class.

Last Updated on March 14, 2019

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