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ENC 1101 (Ford)

Review Your Assignment Requirements

Before starting your research, you need to have a clear idea of what you are looking for. Always review your assignment requirements to determine the scope of your project, how many sources you need, and what type of sources are required. 

For your Argument Essay assignment, your paper is required to 

  • be 800-1200 words, including a works cited page
  • use at least 3 secondary sources
  • and those sources need to be peer reviewed.

Types of Sources

When researching your topic, it's important to understand the differences between primary and secondary sources. Here are some general definitions and examples.

Primary Sources provide direct or firsthand evidence about an event, object, person or work of art and are usually written or created during the time under study. Your primary source(s) will be your senior-citizen interview(s). Other examples of primary sources include articles presenting original research and data, archival materials (like letters, diaries, photographs, etc.), and newspaper articles reporting on current events.

Secondary sources interpret, comment on, analyze, or review information from primary sources and can be written after the time under study. Examples include articles in journals that review or interpret previous research or events and most non-fiction books, including textbooks, biographies, and history books. For your project, your 3 secondary sources need to be from scholarly peer-reviewed journals. They will provide context and background information on your primary source interview(s). 

The best place to find scholarly peer-reviewed secondary sources is to use the library databases. While most databases do have search limiters that allow you to specify that you are only looking for peer-reviewed sources, it is still helpful to understand the major differences between scholarly and popular sources. 

Scholarly sources 

  • are written by experts in the field
  • are written for academics (scholars, researchers, students)
  • are long and contain extensive references 
  • use formal, specialized vocabulary
  • contain mostly text, not images or advertisements.


Popular Source: The New Yorker 

Scholarly Source: The Journal of Advanced Composition

Preliminary Research

In preparation for conducting your senior-citizen interview(s), doing some preliminary research on your general topic will help you generate questions for your interview, formulate research questions for your essay, and focus your research project. 

Your assignment includes some questions to help you get started on your research on the general topic of communication in the mid-twentieth century:

  • How did people communicate years ago?
  • How did they learn of events in the past?
  • How important was reading to them?
  • What did they like to read?
  • What were the texts they read most?
  • How did they express their opinions?
  • Who read what they wrote?
  • Do they see discourse as different today compared to years ago?