Research Paper Description
The Knowledge Project
Final Draft and Self-Reflection due Monday, June 14.
REQUIREMENTS (The elements below will all be in the rubric for the research paper.)
Focus and Format Requirements
10-12 pages, not including the Works Cited page.
Clearly fits the parameters of the assignment described below.
8 credible, appropriate sources (minimum) — at least one must be scholarly. All sources on the Works Cited page must be used within the paper.
Sources are documented according to MLA documentation guidelines, including in-text citation and a properly formatted Works Cited page.
Formatting: standard MLA formatting guidelines.
Paper Development Requirements
The elements below should be ones you refer to as you write, revise, and draft, to consider how the various elements of your paper are working. There are no formulas for effective essays, but there practices that often are effective and we will work on those as you get to the drafting stage and on how to support those as you research and develop your ideas.
A thesis statement is presented in a relevant introduction that responds to a relevant and purposeful question (that falls within the parameters of this assignment) and unifies the elements in the body of the paper.
The thesis is supported in the body of the paper through the development of distinct supporting ideas that clearly help to clarify and/or demonstrate the validity of the thesis statement.
Those supporting ideas are each supported with reasoning, sources provided for clarification and support, examples, and other forms of idea development designed to help a reader understand them, connect and synthesize them, and to convince the reader they are ideas worth considering.
Paragraphs are effectively used to present and organize distinct ideas and information. They are sequenced in a way that helps to connect ideas. Note: when you write a longer paper, you must abandon the idea that each “topic” gets it’s own paragraph. You will cover topics that require multiple paragraphs to develop, and so you must consider other reasons for introducing a paragraph break, such as between describing a useful example (one paragraph) and explaining/analyzing its relevance to the point you are making (another paragraph).
Sources and examples are integrated thoroughly and effectively. This goes beyond providing correct documentation to providing sufficient context, presenting ideas from sources accurately and clearly, integrating those ideas into your own reasoning and explaining how it supports or demonstrates a supporting idea.
The tone of the paper is serious and appropriate (without needing to be stuffy). It shows awareness of topic as well. In other words, some topics might allow for a lighter tone. With other topics, a lighter tone might be offensive or suggest lack of understanding.
A conclusion is provided that reinforces the focus of the paper and the thesis statement while also leaving us with a better sense of your topic’s relevance. It looks ahead to new or unanswered questions uncovered by your study of knowledge about your topic.
The essay is professional in presentation with minimal sentence-level and proofreading errors. Formatting, font, spacing, and overall attention to detail show care, seriousness, and supports your credibility as a researcher and writer. In other words, when we look at the paper, we should see a paper that is professionally executed. Think about this the way you would think about the clothes you wear to an important occasion. The clothes don’t change who you are, but they do make a first impression. You can make a first impression that predisposes your reader to trust you or a first impression that makes your reader skeptical of competence. Right or wrong, that impression will affect their other perceptions of the paper. Errors are also distracting. It’s hard to concentrate on your ideas when we’re trying to figure out what word that typo was supposed to be, or what word you might have left out of a sentence.
To write a research-based argument that addresses a question about the ways we think about and use knowledge. In so doing, I hope you will practice and learn techniques, processes, and skills that support successfully producing research-based academic writing in your future college classes and in professional pursuits. I will also add that the thematic focus on knowledge also asks you to engage, as a part of your study in thinking about the credibility and reliability of information and how we sift knowledge and information in different environments and contexts.
Paper Purpose and Description
As I just said, the overarching purpose of your paper is to explore some basic epistemological questions about how we define, think about, and use knowledge to justify our decisions, actions, and beliefs. Entering that conversation implies a number of other questions, such as (but not limited to):
Who decides what knowledge is or isn’t?
Why do we decide what knowledge is?
What different forms can knowledge take? And which forms do we tend to prioritize or consider more credible?
Is “knowledge” the same for every topic? Do we know we’re sick the same way that we know we’re happy?
Where does knowledge come from? Who has access to different kinds of knowledge?
Are there cultural dispositions about knowledge?
Why and when do we dismiss knowledge when presented with it?
What is the difference between information, facts, belief, opinion, wisdom, knowledge? How does calling something any of those terms change how we view it?
How is knowledge taught or passed on? And through what media or mechanisms (formal education, family, cultural stories, experience, etc….)?
And you can probably think of others.
So your overarching assignment focus is obviously quite big, right? Am I asking you to solve age-old philosophical questions? No! Certainly not. Your purpose, rather, is to enter and contribute to this big conversation with a question and theory of your own. In order to do that in a finite, limited, and manageable way, you will create your own question and topic for your research paper. STOP. Read the last two sentences together and carefully. This does not mean that any topic will work. You need to choose a question/topic that contributes the conversation about how we consider and use knowledge. Let’s test that a little bit.
This assignment gives you a large, over-arching question to start: how do we think about and use knowledge to justify our decision, beliefs, or attitudes? There is no one answer to this question. It’s an on-going conversation, and I am asking you to contribute to that discourse with your paper.
You must narrow how you are going to do that by identifying a smaller question or topic of interest. The materials you have been exploring and responding to have hopefully helped you to start thinking about some possibilities.
Once you have question that you want to answer in your paper (or theorize about), that will be a jumping off point for exploring your own research.
Using your research and the materials available through this class, you will develop a theory that answers your question, which becomes the thesis for your paper.