Exploratory Research Essay with Annotated Bibliography

For Essay #2, you will write an exploratory research paper based on a complex research question of your choice. This should be a topic that is specific enough to cover in a relatively short paper, and should be either related to personal experience (something you have a personal stake in or know something about already) or something you can research directly (through an interview, survey, or formal observation). Exploratory research aims to teach you something you don’t already know, and it begins with a question to which you do not know the answer. You will start with this type of question, and end with conclusions based on your research. This is not a persuasive essay. The purpose of the overall essay should be to inform and explore and to document your research journey. Your essay should make use of significant research, which should be incorporated smoothly and effectively, but it can also be creative and should be engaging.

You may be drawn to a topic that is related to your work for your one of your other classes. That’s fine, but remember that the academic honesty policy dictates that you cannot use the same project for more than one class. Vary your approach enough to make this a separate research project, building on your previous and current interests.

Research and Evidence:

Your project will use

-a specific research question, one that you can’t answer until you do your research.

-at least one form of primary research (personal experience, formal observation, interview, survey)

– at least one image (chart, graph, table, timeline, photo, etc.)

-an annotated bibliography that shows research relating to your topic. (You won’t necessarily use all of this research in the essay itself.) This should include at least six sources. Two should be scholarly. Don’t eliminate any topic because you think you can’t find a scholarly source for it. You can always tie in a scholarly source, and I will be happy to help with this. For each source, include the works cited entry and then exactly three sentences below it:

  1. Rhetorical description of source: what is it, who wrote it, the intended audience, and whatever else we know about the context. For example: This peer-reviewed source was published by ornithology expert Raoul Smith in 1986 in Birders’ Journal to address recent population decline of the two-tongued meadowlark.
  2. Quick summary of source’s content.
  3. Evaluation of the source. Is it trustworthy? Biased? Dated? How it would be useful for your project (or not)?


            1200 words, +/- 100.

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