Independent Research Project

        This paper will develop from your well-informed survey of scholarly literature in some discipline of your choosing to locate a recent trend in research that might be a promising subject for future research.  The resulting paper will be a form of "research proposal," in this case, a proposal arguing from the validity of its logic and sources that some specific type of research probably will be conducted in the future.  The research proposal is a common genre of academic writing that is used to begin senior honors theses, to focus advanced laboratory research in the natural sciences, to write internally- or externally-funded grant proposals, and to win the right to participate in a host of other extremely useful and valuable forms of scholarly activity.  Such proposals are the gateway to the money to do the job, the job itself, and the ability to do new things with the job.

        To prevent you from slipping back into high-school-era conceptions of "the research paper," I want you to follow the following stages when producing your proposal:

1)  Read and follow the steps for testing your ability to work at a scholarly level in one or more disciplines which you might choose for a major.

2)  Read the criteria I will use to evaluate the report on your independent research project.

3)  Interview at least one faculty member from the department in whose academic discipline you will be doing research, to learn how they prepared for their careers, and to seek guidance about relevant journals and possible research topics that are currently important and feasible for research at this point in your career.

4)  Using the Goucher Library's research tools, including its online search tools, print collection, Interlibrary Loan, and affiliate libraries' collections, locate a reasonably persuasive set of articles, book chapters, and other resources of scholarly or expert quality that relate to the kind of research you are investigating.  Before you finish your research, use the techniques described in the web pages about "drilling down" into your subject and sources, and using interdisciplinary thinking to acquire relevant sources from other related disciplines.

5)  Post your preliminary results as rough draft on GoucherLearn.  Minimum content: a functional title, an introduction describing the specific part of the discipline or field you are studying and naming at least two persons whose ideas will contribute to your thesis, along with some reasoning about what you can do with their work, and bibliographic documentation of the sources appropriate to the discipline in which you are working.

6)  Present your preliminary research results to the class in a 3 to 5 minute talk.  Make sure you have filled out and emailed to me the participant conference information form so the we can have the room properly prepared for your presentation.

7)  Write a report in which you summarize what your best sources tell you about the direction this research is taking, and synthesize from that information a hypothesis about where the research might go in the future.  If your hypothesis is difficult to form, use this web page to help you generate it: explaining the recent history of the discipline's focus on this topic or explaining the source of controversy in the discipline's focus on the topic.  The report is due on the Friday following the conference presentations.  If you intend to revise the report for your final portfolio, please indicate that when you email the report to me so that I can make sure it is done by Monday or Tuesday.