Read before you begin (tips)

The Individual Research Paper

You should have your “outline” today — that is, you should have an idea of what each of your body paragraphs is going to explore. Figure this out by looking at your annotated bibliography to determine what the main ideas –the overarching, big ideas — are. It will be especially helpful if you write 4-6 sentences–each one as a “topic sentence” or main idea that each paragraph will be about.

Make it simple. Consider making each paragraph an exploration and evaluation of one perspective. Discuss that perspective’s strengths and limitations. Then, in the next paragraph, do the same thing while connecting the ideas in the new paragraph to the previous paragraph.

Analyze and evaluate multiple perspectives in your INDIVIDUAL paper. You do not have to come to a conclusion until your TEAM paper. That is, you can use sources that are biased, but you must explore and explain that bias. For instance, police unions and Black Lives Matter will have very different perspectives on body cameras for police. You can explore both, analyze their reasoning, and evaluate their positions without coming to a conclusion on your own. Your conclusion should come after ALL team members get together at the end, look at ALL perspectives, and determine a conclusion based on ALL the research.

Do not begin with a thesis. Do not try to prove anything. Simply ask a question and explore multiple perspectives on that question. You do not need to treat all perspectives as equal. As you evaluate, you can establish that one perspective has more science behind it, or that another perspective is definitely the minority view. But you should try to give a fair hearing to every perspective, even though some might be clearly better reasoned than others.

At some point in the paper, explore one source’s line of reasoning (that is a big part of the rubric). That is, detail the logic of one source. Take the reader through how the source built its argument. It could be one particularly good source. OR…it could be an exploration of the flaws in the logic of one of your source’s arguments. The rubric’s language is: “The report explains and summarizes specific information and provides solid, detailed analysis of the line of reasoning.” This is 20% of your paper’s grade.

In-text attributions should establish ethos. Let’s look at the following attribution: “as explained in Historical Evolution of Child Welfare Services by Brenda G. McGowan, published by Columbia Press (2014, p. 12).” I can find out the title and author from the references page. If you are giving in-text citations, you should tell me why that particular book is so important, or why McGowan is a credible, reliable source. Has she published ten books on child welfare? Does she work for a government child welfare agency? Tell me something that makes me trust her more. Furthermore, saying someone is a PhD. does not establish ethos. There are tens of thousands of PhDs in America.

Put the name of your lens in your title, and in the short title that is the running header.

Start References on a new page by inserting a page break.

If you are citing a newspaper article, give the exact date on your reference page. That is the only time you need the exact date.

Lens is not spelled “lense”


This is a reflection: “I used to think this. Something happened. Now I am different. This is how I think differently–how I am different and how it will affect me in the future (on future projects).”

The reflection is about how much you changed and you grew. What did you learn, and how did you change over the course of the process? It is NOT A CHRONOLOGY. For instance, one student wrote, “while editing my own research question, I gained insight for how to edit the group question as well,” and then stopped. Don’t just TELL me that you gained insight, SHOW me the PROCESS of gaining that insight, and tell me what the insights are–that is, what you learned for next time.

Here is an example of a reflection that could be improved: “when my group meet to talk about lenses, we discovered that writing an essay on the futuristic or artistic aspect of this would be rather difficult. So we decided on writing on the scientific, social/cultural, ethical, and economical side of things. I chose to write on the ethical side of this.” What this is lacking is any reflection on how this process changed the student. What did you learn about, say, choosing a topic or dividing a topic into lenses that will help you on your next paper? Don’t just tell me what happened. Tell me what you learned that will make you a better researcher/writer in the future.

The reflection should be about ONLY your individual paper. Do not discuss the group paper or the presentation.




One thought on “Read before you begin (tips)

  1. Pingback: Tuesday | Lewis and Clark AP Capstone/Seminar

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