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Final Research Article

English 127
Research Writing


The Final Research Article (FRA) is on the same topic as your Background Essay (BE) and Scholarly Review (SR), although you the way you have narrowed your topic and the research question you are trying to address may have changed (or evolved).  The FRA asks you to put forward and support an academic argument related to your narrowed social science topic.  The intention of the research process has been for you to make an original contribution by having you work on a single topic throughout the quarter.  In the FRA you will put the pieces together from previous assignments, including shortened and revised versions of your BE and SR, but you will also add new material.  Throughout the research and writing process of previous assignments up till this point, I asked you not to put forth your own opinions or viewpoints but to focus on reporting information and the analyses and conclusions of other scholars.  The FRA is the place where you will showcase and present your own insights, interpretations, and viewpoints (though you will still not state your “opinion,” a word that indicates a personal view that may or may not be rigorously supported).  You should think of your audience as made up of fellow scholars but also the informed public.  Imagine that you were presenting your FRA as a Ted Talk!

Student Sample Final Research Article (note that this student's paper is considerably longer than yours will be because she was working from a different set of assignment guidelines)

Here are the new elements you will be adding in the FRA: 

Your Argument:  As described in The Craft of Research (chapters 7-11), your academic argument should include the following elements:  a main claim, reasons, evidence, acknowledgments, and responses; an explicit discussion of warrants (often unstated assumptions, values and principles) is optional.  Although you are likely to include a great number of observations, interpretations and insights throughout your essay, your main claim will be a response to your research question.  In a large sense, the originality and significance of your overall contribution to the shared scholarly understanding of your topic will depend on the originality and signifiance of your research question. 

Revising the Research Question:  In your Scholarly Review you presented what had already been researched and published by scholars on your narrowed topic and related issues.  By the conclusion of that essay, you were supposed to develop an original research question based on the gaps in the knowledge, namely, what you discovered had not been adequately researched or understood by those scholars.  You may find that you need to revise the formulation of your research question again now that you are actually trying to answer or address it in the FRA.  See CR, chapters 3-4.
***Again, do not choose a research question (or main claim) that takes a yes/no, good/bad, for/against, pro/con, either/or, or right/wrong form, nor should your research question or claim attempt to solve a problem or predict the future or merely provide information.  Instead develop a question that explores and explains cause-effect relationships; non-obvious connections and consequences; complexities in identities, definitions or categorization; the effectiveness of past programs or initiatives; challenges in managing issues; political differences; etc. 
Working through the questions on The Politics of Research webpage with regard to your own topic may also spark some new ideas for possible research questions. 

Developing a claim:  Try to come up with a one-sentence answer to the research question from the conclusion of your Scholarly Review, which will be the main claim in your academic argument.  If you can't imagine what a good one-sentence answer to the research question would look and sound like, consider refining or revising the question further.  Since you will not be conducting an original research study, your one-sentence answer will emerge from new articles as well as from the analysis and evolving understanding you have been developing with regard to your topic all quarter.  Your goal is to support, not prove, your main claim with reasons, evidence, acknowledgments, and responses.  Consider your main claim as your supported interpretation rather than an opinion.  If you are having a difficult time coming up with a research question, you can begin by trying to list all of the insights, interpretations, and connections you came up with as you read through various articles and websites throughout the quarter.  What claims do you feel are able to make regarding your narrowed topic.  Which of the claims appear significant and original?  You can work backwards from a main claim to a research question as well (like in Jeopardy).   

More Research:  You need at least four new sources for the FRA (with at least four sources each from your earlier BE and SR essays for a total of 12 sources for the FRA).  In addition to the sources you had already found for your earlier two essays on this topic, you need the following four new source types for the FRA:  at least one organizational (*.org) website and one governmental (*.gov) website; one documentary, TED talk, youtube video, or podcast; and one article from Rereading AmericaIn developing your argument and trying to support an answer (main claim) to your original research question in the FRA, you will of course draw upon your Background Essay and Scholarly Review.  However, the way in which you have narrowed your topic and the questions you are now asking may have gone through substantial changes as you moved through the various assignments, so you might also end up having to do new background research or to find new scholarly articles/chapters for the Scholarly Review section of the FRA. 

Organization/Group/Program/Agency/Department Profile: Identify and profile one entity that is doing work in relation to your narrowed topic and research question. More details available below.

Shortening and Revision of BE and SRVery important! As you shorten and revise your two previous graded papers to become sections in the FRA, you must correct any errors I had pointed out and take into account any suggestions I had made in my final and marginal comments on your graded final drafts of the BE and SR, including problems with in-text citations.  Click on the "View Feedback" link next to the original files you submitted; to see my feedback in the margins of your final draft, download the file and open it in Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is a free software program (you can get it here if it is not already loaded on your computer: https://get.adobe.com/reader/).

Required Elements of the Final Research Article 

Points & Length:  285 points; 2100-3000 words (8-10 pages of text, not including the cover page, the pages for the abstract and references, or any optional illustrations and appendices)

Coversheet & Title:  Include the title, your name, the course number, instructor name, and date on the coversheet (see a handbook or website on APA document format).  Your title should be narrow rather than broad, and should reflect your research question or hypothesis; therefore, don't choose a title as broad as "Gun Control" (which is one of our prohibited topics anyway!).  Spend some time developing a title that is interesting, informative and/or innovative, perhaps a two-part title that includes a subtitle.  See CR, p. 247.

Abstract (include section heading):  On a new page after the cover page, center the word Abstract on the top of this page and then begin the abstract paragraph on the next line.  Write a one-paragraph summary (150-200 words) of your research paper with the following items:  your narrowed topic; the context for your inquiry (such as a problem or debate you are addressing); your original research question and main claim (thesis); and, finally, a brief statement about the significance of your overall argument and research project.  (See CR, p. 198, Option 3; again, don’t use “I” or other forms of first person in the abstract or anywhere else in the FRA.) 

Introduction (no section heading needed):  Include the title of your essay again on the first page of your essay (after the Abstract page); it should be centered on the top of the page; begin the text on the next line.  While your introductory section may be one or more paragraphs long (probably not more than two), pay special attention to your very first paragraph, which should capture your reader's attention (while remaining academic and professional rather than sensationalist, overly sentimental or melodramatic).  See CR, Ch. 16, "Introductions and Conclusions" (pp. 232-246).  Your introductory section (1-2 paragraphs) should clearly state your original research question and main claim (thesis).  This section can also include an explanation of the relevance or significance of the issues and/or a brief discussion of what led you to formulate your question (without using “I” or other forms of first person).

Background Section (2-3 pages; include section heading):  This section is a shortening and revision of your Background Essay (and should include at least four sources, which means you can omit one of your sources from your original BE). Don't include the introduction and conclusion of that earlier essay.  Note that revision can mean omitting, expanding or condensing what you wrote earlier, as well as adding new relevant information and subtopics that you hadn't included at all in the earlier assignment.  However, you must reduce the amount of background material you presented in your original BE so that it is more focused on behalf of your FRA.  Again, the following elements are suitable for this section:  relevant history, laws and policies, statistics, organizations and programs, current published debates, etc. Very important! As you revise your earlier graded BE to become a section in the FRA, you must correct any errors I had pointed out and take into account any suggestions I had made in my final and marginal comments on your graded final draft of the BE, including problems with in-text citations. 

Organization/Program/Government Agency/Department Profile (include section heading; 200-300 words): Identify and profile ONE entity (organization/program/agency/department) with a website that is doing work that is somehow connected to your narrowed topic and research question. Describe the entity's objectives, services, and actions in relation to a particular problem. Which group(s), if any, is the entity trying to serve and/or call to action? Make use of at least two sources (with one quotations from each) to build your profile, one of which should be independent of the entity itself. Your profile should also inform your Original Argument. Optional:  You might investigate, evaluate, and comment on the organization's history, funding, organizational structure, stakeholders, politics, biases, successes, and limitations. You might event conduct an interview with a member of the organization, which may appear in an optional Appendix.

Scholarly Review (2-3 pages; include section heading AND subheadings for the subsections for Summary and Discussion & Evaluation of sources):  Again, you will shorten and revise your earlier graded SR (with at least four scholarly sources, which means that you can omit one of the scholarly sources you used for your original SR).  While you should plan on using what you can from your earlier Scholarly Review essay, you will need to shorten and revise what you wrote there; your research question may also have changed (or evolved), and you may have found new scholarly sources.  While you will still need an introductory paragraph for this section, a revised version of the conclusion from the Scholarly Review essay should move to the beginning of your Original Argument section.  Your revised summary paragraphs of the Scholarly Review section should still highlight the subtopics of research on which more than one author may have written (rather than summarizing each article separately).  The Discussion & Evaluation subsection should identify and offer your evaluation of the commonalities and differences among scholars; their research methods and assumptions; and any limitations or gaps in knowledge within these scholarly articles. Very important! As you revise your earlier graded SR to become a section in the FRA, you must correct any errors I had pointed out and take into account any suggestions I had made in my final and marginal comments on your graded final draft of the SR, including problems with in-text citations. 

Your Original Argument (include section heading; 2-3 pages of new writing):  Begin this section with your own original research question along with its justification (may be a revised version of your concluding paragraph from your Scholarly Review essay), which should emerge out of the scholarly sources in the scholarly review section, especially those areas or questions that you believe have not yet been adequately addressed or answered (gaps in knowledge).  The overall purpose of the FRA is to support your main interpretive claim, which is your answer to your original research question.  In presenting your argument, make sure you are engaging in dialogue with and building upon some of your 12+ sources (including quotations from at least three of them in this section).  If you agree with one or more of them, how are you taking the discussion further?  If you disagree with one or more of them, why is that?  Pay attention to CR, Chs. 7-11 to understand the different elements of a solid, academic argument, including your claim, reasons, evidence, acknowledgments, responses, and relevant warrants.  How do your research question and main claim connect to larger issues or debates within the field?  Acknowledge and respond to possible questions and reasonable objections that readers might raise to different aspects of your argument.  While you may not be able to anticipate every possible objection, consider questions a skeptic might ask to challenge your positions.  Be honest and fair in how you respond to questions or possible opposing views, and be willing to acknowledge questions you can’t answer or limit the certainty of your claims if appropriate. 

Conclusion (include section heading):  Synthesize (do not summarize!) the main information, explanations, debates and argument that your paper has offered.  Restate, in different words to avoid repetition, your original research question and main claim (thesis).  What is the significance of the work you have done, the research you've uncovered, the questions you’ve asked, and the arguments you have made?  This is the famous "So what?" question (also see The Politics of Research webpage).  Your conclusion should give your reader reasons to continue thinking about your essay and its arguments.  For example, you can offer suggestions for further research, which refers to new questions or directions that other researchers might wish to pursue based on the work you have done.   

References (include section heading):  You need a minimum of 12 sources (see next section for more details).  Begin a new page with the word References centered on the top of the first page of the list of sources that you quoted or cited.  Each source should appear in APA format, which means that you have to pay attention to details of punctuation, indentation, spacing, capitalization, italics/underlining, sequencing, etc.  Because it is very difficult to memorize all of the detailed conventions of citation, refer often to either your handbook or other web-based resources for determining correct APA format.  Your References pages should follow the numbering of the entire manuscript; if your last page of writing falls on page 10, then the first page of your references would be page 11.

OPTIONAL:  Appendices:  Include any supporting materials such as archival material, statistics, graphs, interviews, survey results, etc. in an appendix  If you have more than one Appendix, use letters to differentiate them:  Appendix A, Appendix B, etc.  Note that there may be a limit on the file size of pictures, etc. that can be uploaded to Canvas.

Quotations & Paraphrases (in-text):   Include at least one direct quotation from all 12 of your required sources, though you may refer to (cite) them in other instances without quoting them; you also may cite additional sources (if you have more than 12) without quoting from them.  You must include the authors' last names (or name of article or organization if no author is specified), the year of publication, and page or paragraph numbers for all of your in-text citations!  See In-text Citations for incorporating quotations and citations in the body of your paper, paying attention to punctuation, quotation marks, parenthetical information, block quotations for long passages, etc.  All quotations and citations should be set up and interpreted so that their relevance to your own point and analysis is clear.  Do not quote merely to provide information or to avoid doing analysis yourself.

APA Format:  In addition to the requirements for citing your references, you may want to review the other aspects of APA Manuscript Format, including the conventions for coversheet, titles, location of page numbers, abbreviated title in the header, etc. 

Section Headings:  Given that this is a relatively long essay, you will include section headings for different parts of your paper for the sake of clarity and to avoid exhausting the attention span of your readers; section headings also serve as very obvious and visible transitions.  At the very least, you need to have the following headings:  Background, Scholarly Review, Argument, and Conclusion.  Some sections will even have subsections, such as the Summary and Discussion & Evaluation subsections of the Scholarly Review (the format for these subheadings should be distinguished from the main headings, e.g., underline vs. bold or italics vs. underline and bold, etc.). 

Audience & Style:  As with the other major essays for this course, think of your audience as made up of primarily of fellow researchers but also the informed public.  Your purpose in this essay is not merely to inform or persuade, but to add to the scholarly understanding of your (narrowed) topic.  Do not use “I,” “me” or other forms of first person voice in this paper.  The only exception is if you are describing personal experience as evidence to support a conclusion you are drawing; however, be aware of the problems in relying too heavily upon your personal experience to draw broader conclusions about social issues.  Since you are writing for an academic audience, use formal language (without being artificially inflated or stuffy).  Therefore, also do not use “you” (second person voice).  Remember that you are trying to establish authority and inspire trust in your readers that you are a credible commentator and analyst of the important issues and questions you are addressing.


Required Sources 

See the Holman Library Class Guide for this course.  Even though you have already made use of at least ten relevant sources related to your topic for the Background Essay and the Scholarly Review, be on the lookout for any and all relevant sources with regard to your topic and research question since you never know where you might find a useful bit of information or a new perspective or angle that triggers your own thinking.  Again, keep in mind the difference between sources that merely give you information, like encyclopedia entries, websites with statistics, etc., vs. those that are engaged in analysis and argument.  Be alert for these different purposes and approaches in the additional sources you seek for the FRA.  

At least 12 sources are required from the following categories (most of you will end up with more):  

     Two or more websites:  You need at least one organizational (*.org) website and one governmental (*.gov) website.  You can specify domains such as .org or .gov from the Advanced Search screen of Google:  http://www.google.com/advanced_search?hl=en. A newspaper or newswire article you find on the internet does not count.

     One Multimedia source (documentary, TED talk, youtube video, or podcast):  Click on the "Find multimedia" tab from our Holman Library Class Guide

     Essay from Rereading America:  You must cite at least one essay from our anthology of readings.  Even if you can't find an article directly related to your topic, you should be able to make a connection between a research question or method in an article from RA and your own paper. 

     Reference article:  CQ Researcher, Gale Virtual Reference Library, Encyclopedias (e.g., Britannica, etc.), social science textbooks, print materials from a library’s Reference section, etc. You may not use Wikipedia as one of your sources, though you may consult the References section of a Wikipedia article to locate other relevant sources.  Dictionary entries do not count.  See "Find reference articles" from our Holman Library Class Guide

     Book or book chapter:  Use the online library catalog to access GRC’s holdings as well as electronic books that you can read directly from your computer.  Also look for books via WorldCat, King County Library, UW Libraries, and amazon.com.  Use the Inter-Library Loan service to have GRC get books for you that Holman Library doesn’t own.  Avoid the "Opposing Viewpoints" series of books for this source type, though they may give you an idea of the range of views and controversies on a particular topic and may serve as a required "Reference" article.  Note that an essay from Rereading America does NOT count for this required source TYPE. 

     Two magazine articles:  Try out a variety of search terms in ProQuest to find relevant and substantial articles (should be longer than 1000 words); use the tabs at the top of the search results (the list of article links) to sort and view only the magazine articles. Some online magazine articles are also acceptable, but they must come from credible sources.

     Four or more scholarly sources:  These are the sources that you should have used for your Scholarly Review essay (which, again, is one of the sections in the FRA).  Again, a scholarly source can be from a "peer-reviewed" journal or can appear as a chapter in a scholarly book (published by a university press).  Note that a scholarly book, designed to be read by experts, is not the same as a textbook, designed to be read by students.  At least four of your scholarly articles should be from four different scholarly sources.  At least two of your scholarly sources must be from the electronic database Academic Search Premier available through the Holman Library webpage (check the box for “Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals” from the main search screen); also try Google Scholar.

Recency:  At least four of your sources need to be no older than two years. 

Other optional source types:  Other relevant source types that you may run across include newspaper articles; alternative media; pamphlets; conference proceedings; informational flyers; and primary sources

Primary sources:  These can include raw statistics, interviews, archives, case studies, survey results, etc.; archival material can include, for example, government documents from the 19th century, a review of newspaper coverage of World War II by actually looking at newspapers from the period, etc..