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ENC 1102 (Pinkerton)

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, what type of sources are required, and how many sources you need. 

For your class, you will be conducting research using both primary and secondary sources. Here are some general definitions and examples of primary and secondary sources.

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. Other examples of primary sources include original research and data, archival materials (like letters, diaries, photographs, etc.), and newspaper articles reporting on current events.

  • Your observations of your chosen community would be considered a primary source for your project.

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. 

  • A journal article about genre written by a scholar listed in your "Genre Research Exploration" assignment would be example of a secondary source for your project. 

Selecting a Topic

Here are some general tips to keep in mind when selecting a topic for a research project:

  1. Choose something you are interested in. This will help you stay engaged throughout the research process.
  2. Review your notes from course readings and lectures to generate possible ideas.
  3. Look at examples of previous projects 
  4. Do some preliminary research before finalizing your topic

When selecting your community, keep in mind these guidelines from your assignment:

  • The community must have an online presence.
  • The community should be text heavy. 

Research Questions and Keywords

After selecting a topic, another important step is to formulate research questions to help guide your research. Refer to the questions in your assignment descriptions to help you develop your research questions about your community, the texts your community uses, the genres present in your community. 

These questions will also help you identify possible keywords to use as search terms as you start looking for sources. 

Let's say, your research question was how has the way online communication between college sorority members changed as a result of COVID?

You could break this question down into keywords:

  • online communication
  • college sororities
  • COVID

Then use those keywords (and related terms/concepts) to develop possible search phrases:

  • online communication AND college sororities AND COVID

As you progress through the research process, you will add to and refine your research questions to include your Writing Studies concepts. For example,

  • online communication AND gatekeeping AND college sororities AND COVID