Testing Independent Research Paper Topics

        Do not commit too much time to researching any one topic until you have discussed your topic with my by email or phone or in person.   To prepare yourself to choose a topic, you need to be able to answer these five questions:

1)  What do professionals in the field read when they want to know the scholarly issues being debated about this topic?

2)  Can you read those journals?

3)  What issues and/or concepts are being debated about [your topic here]?

4)  Why are the issues and/or concepts considered important?

5)  Are those journals available to you, at the Goucher Library, either in print or online, by Interlibrary Loan, or at another college or university library within convenient driving distance?

        If the answer to the first is sufficiently precise, and if you can explain lucidly the answers to the third and fourth questions, and if the answer to the fifth question is yes, the topic probably will work.  If not, move on to your second or third choice, perhaps changing disciplines to one whose theory and terms of art you know better, and/or one whose journals are more readily available to you from campus.  Successful research projects combine the researcher's active curiosity with reasonable caution for what resources must be available if the project is to be completed by its deadline (see syllabus!).

        If you cannot yet work at a scholarly level in any of Goucher's major disciplines, you still have two alternatives using me as your faculty informant.  First, you can return to the Hawthorne paper and examine other ways to develop research on NH as an author, individual stories (perhaps in different published editions), and NH's cultural context.  Second, you can return to the film paper and look for lines of research into the careers of the directors (Curtiz and Reed), major actors (e.g., Bogart, Bergman, Lorre, Cotten, Welles, etc.), film noir as a genre or other films noirs and their directors, or other projects we could develop together.