English 241 Independent Research Project Report Guidelines

1)  All reports should be sent to my inbox as attached MS-Word or RTF files by the Monday following the last week of classes.  Early reports will be very much appreciated.  Follow MLA style carefully, and be sure to include your primary sources in the Works Cited.

2)  Make sure your introduction includes a historical and bibliographically descriptive context for the project, explaining the background of the document(s) you are working with and their significance.  Feel free to draw on the first three papers if what you have written there is relevant.

3)  Be sure to do adequate secondary scholarly research to establish that historical and bibliographic context.  Do not neglect assigned readings in the syllabus, which I will assume you know well.  If you fail to use obviously relevant assigned readings, I will take that as prima facie evidence you have not read them, which will count doubly against your final grade.  If you use them where appropriate, I will reward you in both the class participation and writing portions of the grade.  This should be standard preparation for writing submitted to any Goucher College 200-level and above course, but if you are unsure where or how far to go, please ask me for guidance.  It's part of my job to teach you those expectations, so asking does no harm.  I also want to make sure the project does serious enough work for a 200-level English class without destroying your schedule or GPA for other classes.

4)  Please think through the significance of what you are working with.  I urge you to talk with other members of the course about what you are doing, starting with the IRP progress reports during the last week of classes.  Make that the beginning rather than the end of the conversation.  Be each other's colleagues and help each other learn.

5)  Please copy-edit your report for coherence overall, including a unifying thesis, reasonable paragraph transitions, appropriate use of digital illustrations with suitable source acknowledgements where needed, and all routine format details that scholarly readers expect in published articles (titles, page numbering, italics for larger works' titles and quotation marks for shorter articles etc.). 

6)  Before you send me the paper, read it aloud to yourself, and to a colleague in the class, if possible.  Help each other learn to write better English prose.  Help your own texts to become worthy of being read a thousand years into the future!