For your research project, you will complete a series of assignments
that will culminate in both a 10 to 15 page final argumentative research
paper on a visual rhetoric-oriented topic and in a photoessay on the
same topic. The paper will use parenthetical documentation, informational
footnotes (as appropriate), and will include a bibliography or works
cited page of at least 8 sources. All documentation must follow the
guidelines set out by the 6th edition of the MLA Handbook for the
Writers of Research Papers. Your paper should also have a title
page with a viable title. Unless otherwise indicated on the assignment
sheet, all research project assignments should be computer-generated;
double-spaced (note: bibliographies and outlines should be single-spaced);
with appropriate margins and font; and page numbers where necessary.
They should be spell-checked and proof-read. Assignments should be posted
to PanFora as formatted attachments, not pasted directly into the PanFora
post. Remember to read and follow each assignment carefully -- attention
to detail counts. See the assignment sheet for the Research
Paper Revision for more specifics about the content and layout of
I have devised the research project so that it is a process - one that
begins within the first couple weeks of the quarter as you start to
think about topics and that culminates on the final day of course when
the last person presents his or her op-ad to the class. Accordingly,
while some assignments will receive a letter grade (as noted below),
many of the steps that you complete along the way are designed to facilitate
your research and writing and so will not be graded - in some cases,
they may be intended to be used in conjunction with class work or conference
and so may not receive any formal written comments at all. However,
all are an important part of the research project itself, and accordingly
are mandatory. You will receive credit for the ungraded assignments
that contributes to the "Informal Assignments" component of
your overall grade for the class. Below I've laid out the grading breakdown
for the class:
(& % of grade):
(& % of grade):
Participation - 5%
& on Panfora)
assignments - 15%
Analysis - 10%
Contextual Analysis- 20%
Research revision - 45%
Visual Argument- 5%
Why write a research paper?
Throughout your career at Stanford,
you will be asked to produce substantial source-based arguments. In
PWR1, we spend a lot of time moving step by step through the research
process in order to help you develop skills and techniques that you
can apply to assignments for other classes in quarters to come.
What exactly do you mean
by "Research Paper," anyway?
According to Prose Style: A
Handbook for Writers, a research paper is a paper for which "you
just gather, sort, and order a body of information on the subject."
On the other hand, in a critical paper, "you also think about that
information, evaluate it" (p. 232). Therefore, a critical or argumentative
research paper would represent a merger of the two forms, as this writing
an argumentative paper, you [...] do not simply quote, paraphrase,
and summarize. You interpret, question, compare, and judge the statements
you cite. You explain why one opinion is sound and another is not,
why one fact is relevant and another is not, why one writer is correct
and another is mistaken. Your purpose may vary with your topic;
you may seek to show why something happened, to recommend a course
of action, to solve a problem, or present and defend a particular
interpretation of a historical event or a work of art. But whether
the topic is space travel or Shakespeare's Hamlet, an argumentative
research paper deals actively with the statements it cites. It makes
them work together in an argument that you create -- an argument
that leads to a conclusion of your own. (Hefferman 495-496)
For your final project you should
produce an argumentative research paper, i.e. one that proves a persuasive
thesis statement with appropriate evidence. The topic is your choice,
as long as it is one that you feel you can take a stand on.
This project is a complicated
one, partly because it involves producing a longer finished product
than you may be used to and partly because in it you will be balancing
and interweaving material from primary and secondary sources with your
own observations, opinions, original thoughts, and analysis.
But it will be more complicated
also because, just as any decent written product represents an involved
writing process, a decent research paper will have behind it, in addition
and invisibly, a many-layered research process, which will include:
- choosing a subject,
hopefully one that interests you and one for which you can find adequate
research material/sources. After choosing your topic, you must narrow
it to a manageable size for a research paper.
- preliminary research
representing initial investigation of your topic, so that you can
concretize your thesis and develop hypotheses that you can test during
the rest of your research;
- accumulation of bibliographic
material, some of which, after wading through it, you will discard
as useless or irrelevant;
- close reading of primary
and secondary material;
- compulsively careful note-taking;
- detailed and formal outlining
of your essay, showing how you plan to organize your thoughts and
integrate them with the outside material you want to use to support
your arguments or analysis;
- the original thinking
necessary to make your secondary material work to support you rather
than your slaving to rationalize its presence in your work;
- a meticulous eye for correct
form in quoting, paraphrasing, and citing your sources, both with
parenthetical documentation and in your bibliography/works cited;
- drafting the body of your
paper to put your outline to the test and to evaluate both the
strong and weak points in your argument, as well as places where you
need to do more research and places where you might be digressing;
- and a careful revision
that leads to your best possible final product.
For topic ideas, read over my
of past research paper topics.
What types of sources should
For this paper, sources might
include a wide variety of media, not necessarily only books and articles.
You might draw on film, interviews or surveys (either published or that
you conduct yourself), TV programs, or internet sources, to name just
a few. Keep in mind that since this is a research paper, not a rhetorical
analysis, that you need a balance between both primary and secondary
materials. In addition, you should use both electronic and paper sources.
Any other questions?
If you have any other questions
about the research project, the research process, or research topic
ideas, e-mail me or come see
me during my office hours.
Heffernan, James & Lincoln,
John. Writing: A College Handbook 3rd edition. New York: W. W.
Norton & Company, 1990.