The major assignment for this course is a developed research paper. Your research and writing process will be structured around three assignments: i. a research proposal, ii. a polished, annotated draft that persuasively defends a thesis on one of the topics of the course, and iii. a final essay (also annotated) that develops your thesis in tandem with a critical exegesis of the materials you have researched on your topic. You will receive a prompt with detailed instructions and a grading rubric for your first draft and final essay.
The goal of your Research Proposal will be to take the first major step toward framing what you will research for your final paper. Your proposal will consist of two sections.
Section I: Question Set
Compose a series of questions and sub-questions that will serve as the starting point for your research. These questions may be somewhat vague to begin with, but try as much as possible to nuance and qualify the questions you pose.
For example: Is Google really making us, as Carr claims, stupid? Is there any evidence that the internet changes our cognitive abilities (how we process information or the kinds of thinking we can engage in)? If the internet does affect cognition, are the consequences as dire as Carr makes them out to be? Why do older generations sometimes (often?) react negatively to new technologies? Perhaps the answer to this question might serve as an explanation for Carr’s motivation in critiquing the internet?
Your specific set of questions will set a limit on the scope of your research—some articles will be interesting but ultimately unrelated to your investigation.
Section II: Annotated Bibliography
Include a bibliography of the research you have found so far that looks potentially useful, with a brief annotation (a sentence or three) about the reference’s relevance to your question set. Make a note of any obstacles you’ve hit in your research. I will look to your bibliography to get a sense of where you are in the research process.
Quantity of Sources: Your final paper should meaningfully engage with at least four high-quality sources. Encyclopedia entries (1 or 2 maximum) may also count toward this total.
Quality of Sources: The paper’s sources should be clearly relevant to the topic, plainly credible, and from a range of venues (i.e., not all from the same single journal or book). Academic journal articles and chapters from monographs or anthologies are ideal and should constitute the majority of your sources; and articles from newspapers and intellectually-respectable magazines are acceptable, too. If you appeal to an organization’s website, you need to have evidence that the information is part of a scholarly discussion—look for references at the end of the article. You are discouraged from trying to read whole books, as that is probably biting off more than you can chew in the amount of time that’s available.
Carr, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”