English 105 Independent Research Project Faculty Interview
Prepare for the interview by looking up your professor in the college catalog. Look up the Departments first, where the instructors are listed with their areas of research specialization. The "Faculty" list (on a separate page) shows where they received their undergraduate and graduate training, and when they joined the college. You also can “google” them, of course, but you might want to use one of the library search engines pointed at a database appropriate to their discipline to look for them as authors of work in their field. The library also makes a practice of buying books publishing work of Goucher faculty, though the “Author” search may not work for book chapters in collections of essays.
When you are talking with your “faculty informant,” explain that I am asking you to research both the discipline and an issue that is currently in debate in the discipline. Make sure they understand that you do not have to do original research to “solve the problem” that is being debated. All I ask for in this paper is a “survey of recent literature” on the issue and an analysis of what kind of research might next appear, based on the previous work. Here are some questions to answer.
1) Where did your informant study and what was her/his area of specialization? With whom did s/he study? Usually this relationship is between a “dissertation director” and the student writing the doctoral dissertation, the big book-length independent research project that completes the student’s work toward the degree. What was the subject of her/his dissertation or master’s thesis, or of a recent publication?
2) What journals or university presses does your informant publish in, and what is their current area of interest? How does s/he conduct her/his research? Especially, which search engines and databases does s/he use to access the online journals. Do not be surprised if the scholar’s current interests have changed since graduate school. The doctorate marks a beginning in a long process of self-education that can transforms the learner’s professional focus.
3) What issues are currently being debated in your informant’s field, and of those, is there one s/he would consider appropriate for you to begin to explore at this level of your education? If s/he has questions about how this would work, make sure to tell him/her that you only have to be able to summarize the main evidence and reasoning of a few scholars and make an educated guess about where this line of research might be headed. The end product is not a formal paper of the sort we wrote about Hawthorne or the films.
4) Ask your informant if any additional guidance is needed for access to the journals that would be most important for a student at your level in this field. Do not be surprised if the instructor offers to loan you personal copies. Many of us subscribe on our own to specialized journals the library collection does not cover. You also might possibly have to travel to Johns Hopkins or Towson University libraries to acquire the articles you need, but remember you can research their collections online through the library web site.
5) When you have completed your interview, draft a report about the issues and your preliminary bibliography of possible sources, and post it to GoucherLearn, emailing me a copy of your posting. That will be a “first draft” of the introduction to your research project report. In the second week of the project, we will develop more sources, and figure out how to interpret and combine them.