Collaborative Research Project Resources
Titles of Previous Years' Research Projects: Starting in 1989, when I first came to Goucher, and continuing through every three-year period when I direct the Writing Program, students in 221 write collaborative research projects. Some of these are unique projects that might give you ideas about how to do something similar, and some generate time-dependent data which needs to be refreshed every few years to be useful, so you might "re-do" the projects of a previous group with changes from your new perspective.
Advice for Collaborative Group Formation and Operation: Collaboration is not always easy, but when it's done right, it's an immensely productive way to do research. This page includes tips on how to structure your group and on how to manage producing the final report of your findings.
Proposal Writing: I ask each collaborative group to write a short proposal specifying what they are going to try to do, why it needs doing, what they have already accomplished toward doing it, and what they still need to do. This page describes what should be in a typical successful proposal.
Report Writing: Doing the research, itself, is only part of the project. The enduring value of the research depends on your ability to generate a report of your findings. Reports can be produced in a number of ways, and they can be evaluated in a similar variety of fashions. Their contents also can vary depending upon what evidence you were using.
Creative Research Systems: an online source for survey design, survey size, statistical significance. If your intentions are not to generate conclusive data, but rather to explore opinion or knowledge as a precursor to some later study (not necessarily by you!), remember that you can shrink your surveyed population size and still generate suggestive observations and possible conclusions. Just do not claim "probability" or "certainty" without sufficient evidence. And always specify "the size and nature of your sample." Stats.org: a George Mason project dedicated to critical analysis of statistical research, especially the reporting of it in the popular press. See, for instance, this review of a recently publicized study that seems to link high-frequency use of texting with risky behavior (drug use, teen pregnancy, etc.). If you are doing qualitative research, do not let the "quants" make you feel your work is less valuable for not generating masses of numerical data. Analysis of values and issues, previous research and trends therein, and a host of other important scholarly activities all must be done without much or any reference to quantitative data.
The Paris Review Interview Series: English 221 students sometimes become interested specifically in the composing processes of creative writers. The decades-old tradition of interviews conducted by PR are an unparalleled resource of your group wants to investigate some aspect of creative writers' composing processes. The library has numerous printed collections by decade (search OLLI titles for "Writers at Work" and "Poets at Work") and I have the recent anthology of interviews with women writers in my office, but you also have online access to these interviews via the hyperlink above. Be careful as you draw conclusions from them, though. As numerous scholars have warned us, what works for novelists, dramatists and poets often does not work for academic writers, and first-person testimony can allow authors to disseminate fictions, either intentional or unconscious.