23 Oct 2009 [ Prev | Next ]

Ex 5: Bibliography Exercise

My goal in this exercise is to give you some guided practice in research skills, at a phase when there isn't a looming draft assignment.

You will present your findings in a 2-3 page bibliographical essay, that describes your research process and evaluates your findings. I am looking for evidence that you can identify and evaluate how your authors are using their sources, that you can use the library's holdings effectively, and that you can assess your own results.  You are welcome to get help from reference librarians, or come to me for guidance, or give each other advice (but this is not a group project; I am asking everyone to demonstrate individual mastery of these important research skills).

Assignment Details

1) Find a recent (less than five years old) peer-reviewed literary research article -- not one that you have used yet, and not one that you plan to present for your oral presentation. (This article is the same "TBA" article mentioned as a reading due for this date.)

2) Analyze your article's "Works Cited" list, and locate four academic sources (either scholarly books, or peer-reviewed articles) mentioned by the author. (By "locate" I mean determine exactly what you would do in order to get a full copy of the source. Is there copy at SHU, either physically on the shelf, or in a database? At your hometown public library? Available through interlibrary loan?)

3) Consult the Works Cited list of at least one of your sources, and locate three additional sources from that list (again, either scholarly books or peer-reviewed articles).

4) Write an informative essay that explains why you chose this article, how you chose the four sources that were your primary targets, and the three additional sources that were your secondary targets. Explain what you learned from reading first-hand a source that your original article cited.

5) Supply a potential thesis statement that you think you'd be able to support, based on the research you've conducted so far.

6) Your essay's Works Cited list.
This means the body of your paper should cite (with either a direct quote, or a paraphrase) each of the sources you find. (Otherwise, you'll have no reason to include it in your Works Cited list.)

In the body of your paper, I'm not looking for a full summary of each source -- it's enough to say something like, "My original author cited Smith's article in The Virginia Quarterly Review as part of her counter-argument, noting particularly Smith's observation that the poetry slam subculture would impact the kind of poems that high school teachers would assign, thus affecting a generation's concept of the artistic possibility of the genre."  (I could then just look up the full citation, under the name "Smith."  It won't be necessary to include all the bibliographical information as part of the essay itself.) 
  • I won't dock you points for being unable to find all your chosen sources, or for learning that some sources are unavailable. 
  • There's no need to use ILL to request a book you don't actually intend to read, but I do want you to tell me the nearest library where there's a copy. (books.google.com is great for that).  State whatever method you know will get you a copy of the book.
As always, feel free to post questions here or otherwise contact me me for clarifications.



Aja Hannah said:

Should we blog this or is it turnitin.com? And does it have to be on something we read in class or just literary?

For this assignment, the topic can be anything literary.

For the next research paper, however, I'm asking that you do examine one of the literary works on our syllabus (including anything we've read in Roberts), though you are welcome to bring other works into your study.

So, if you would like to use this assignment as a way to get a head start on Paper 3, you may wish to focus on one of the readings on our syllabus.

I'd like you to submit it on Turnitin.com, but you are also welcome to blog about it.

Gladys Mares said:

Should we bring a copy to class?

No, that won't be necessary, so long as you'll be able to talk about what you learned.

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