As the title of this course (Research and Composition for Change) indicates, you are in this class doing research and writing for the purpose of change, whether it’s social change or personal change, and of course, it is change for the better. It cannot be a better time to be doing this considering all the recent events you have witnessed or experienced. So, let’s devote our summer session to the study of a better and happier society/world or a better and happier person/people.
This means we are going to work on the major research project making proposals that would make our local community or city or our country a better place, and as a result, make the people happier. In a nutshell, you are designing a better society to live in.
This sounds like an unreasonably huge topic and an extremely difficult task. Yes, it is a big topic. But I am not asking you to cover all areas of the society. As a matter of fact, I will be asking you to select a focus, find the most important aspects to write about, thus making your research paper manageable.
To do this, you need to first have a basic understanding of the topic of happiness. Human beings have long been engaged in seeking happiness by all means—through substance (legal or illegal, prescription or non-prescription, natural or human-made), through spiritual or religious paths, through mental or physical exercises like meditation and sports, through changing life habits or attitudes (exercising altruism, gratitude, and studying positive psychology), or through possession of material things, and the list goes on. Many governments have also realized their roles in their citizens’ pursuit of happiness and try to create social conditions that are favorable for their people to do so. What do we know really works?
After you look at various countries and different people’s experiences of a happy existence through watching the documentaries, or hear what experts have to say about this topic, and read the findings of research studies, examine your own experiences and observations, you will form your view on the key(s) to happiness.
Purpose and Audience: Depending on your specific focus and your selection of the main purpose, you will choose your targeted audience for your paper. Your purpose could be to provoke your reader to think differently, to question the conventional wisdom and attitudes, to educate your reader on some misconceptions or misleading viewpoints, to persuade your reader to take a different position or to change his or her habits/priorities, to propose certain social or political reforms, and so on.
Topic Selection: General topic is Pursuit of Happiness. This is a very broad subject and requires you to narrow it down to a topic you can deal with in ten pages. From whatever angle you choose to approach this topic, or whichever audience and purpose you select for your research writing, you are asked to synthesize the researched information, draw your own conclusion on the topic, using the researched information to help make your point or to back up your claim. (Find more specific instructions about choosing a topic in Week 4 class agenda PPT.)
Genre Selection: Depending on your topic and purpose, you may choose to write a report like “Does Texting Affect Writing?” or an argumentative essay like “Organ Sales Will Save Lives.”
All essays consist of the following elements:
- Introduction—introduce the topic, offer background information if it’s necessary, and provide your thesis statement (your view on the topic).
- Body–examine various aspects of the chosen issue using facts, examples, and reasoning.
- Conclusion–Re-assert your thesis by summarizing the major points you presented in the body paragraphs.
While planning, ask yourself the following questions first:
- What is the purpose of this essay?
- Who is my audience? What do they already know and what views might they hold on this issue?
- Will my topic interest them? Is my topic too broad, too vague?
The Research Paper Portfolio is designed to help you in your preliminary planning. It offers step by step guidance to your prewriting process. Work on that assignment first. After you have researched, read, and evaluated your information and designed your outline, you will have an easy time drafting your paper.
Your learning in this class will be assessed not only by your final product, but also by the research and writing skills you demonstrate in the entire researching and writing process as seen in Research Paper Portfolio and your drafts. When you master the necessary research and writing skills, you can handle any research paper for any college course or for your work place.
Sources: Use at least six authoritative sources. Evaluate your sources vigorously and document them properly. If you use websites, ink them in your “Works Cited” list. (A source is different from a citation. You may be citing a few times from one article/book/documentary/Ted Talk, but you are still using one source.)
Avoiding Plagiarism: The paper you submit must be your own writing. When you start your research, you must take good notes and keep track of your sources. The Random House dictionary defines plagiarism as “the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one’s own original work.” Whenever you use a book, an article, a web site, or a reference tool to gather information and you use someone’s idea in your paper, you must credit the source in your paper by providing the necessary information of the source. If you pass off someone’s ideas as your own, you are committing plagiarism, whether it is done intentionally or unintentionally.