24 Mar 2010 [ Prev | Next ]

Pre-writing Portfolio 3

This pre-writing portfolio is very different from the others we've done -- we're not yet ready to start talking about a thesis.  We're still looking at sources at this stage.

Your goal for this assignment is to demonstrate that you can
  • evaluate the sources you find online
  • locate and analyze an academic article that you find though the Reeves webs site.
Bring a printout to class.

Quick overview: I'm asking you to name a research topic, find and briefly analyze two online sources, find and analyze in greater depth one academic article, and supply a complete Works Cited list for those three sources. 

Details in a bit... but first, a brief... 


·         Textbooks are written for beginners.

·         Academic articles serve a different purpose.

·         The length, depth, vocabulary, and organization/format of an academic article are all part of what makes the article valuable to experts. (Putting the needs of beginners first would damage the authority of the source.)

Like Papers 1 and 2, the Research Paper (Paper 3) asks you to take and defend a position that is:
    1. debatable (not obvious)
    2. evaluative (not summative)
    3. analytical (not normative) 
    4. about the readings (not about the general topic of the readings).
Unlike Papers 1 and 2, Paper 3 expects you to go outside the Rereading America textbook, demonstrating your ability to find, evaluate, and incorporate credible sources (including scholarly publications). Today's assignment will ask you to look for some credible sources, starting with online sources, and finishing with a detailed analysis of an academic article.    

The Assignment:
  1. Identify a research topic. ("Gender" is too broad.  "Gender in the workplace," "Gender in the factory workplace" and "Gender in the U.S. auto industry" are progressively more precise.)  Write your topic on a cover page.
  2. Conduct an internet search for your topic, using any method you wish. 
    1. Print out two good sources for a research paper on your chosen topic.
    2. Identify the author, date, and publisher of each source. (Circle or highlight this information in the printout.)
    3. On the printout, write down reasons why you feel this source is "good."  
      1. What is the purpose of the site? (How do you know?)
      2. Can you trust this site? (Can you trust what a posting on the "Mushroom Hater's Forum" has to say about mushrooms? What about a government document that reports statistics on mushroom harvests? What about a magazine article that describes a new treatment for a mushroom disease?) 
  3. Conduct a library database search for your chosen topic, using the steps we went over in class Monday. (At the bottom of this page I've posted a review.
    1. Find one, recent, academic article, and print out the full text.
    2. all the information I ask for in the next few steps, there's a good chance that the article you've found is not an academic article.  It might be an interview, a personal essay, a book review, or almost anything else.
    3. Draw a box around the author's thesis.
    4. Underline the main idea of each paragraph.
    5. In the body of the paper, locate, circle, and number the first five citations. (For example, if the author cites Haydar, Morgan, a US Census report, a Lady Gaga video, and Kilbourne, circle each reference and number them one through five.)
    6. In the Works Cited or References section, locate, circle, and number the matching bibliographical entries (that is, find where the author has listed the full information for Haydar's source, and write a "1" in the margin, and do the same for each of the other sources).
    7. evidence that the author uses to support his or her thesis.
  4. On your cover page, provide an MLA-style Works Cited list for the three sources.  Reminder:   See this full sample MLA style Works Cited page, and details on citing electronic sources in MLA style.

Steps for Finding a Peer Reviewed Article

  • Open a web browser and go to SHU's home page.
  • Click "Reeves." 
  • Click "Find Articles."
  • Click EBSCOhost
  • Log in with your SHU user name and password.
  • Check the box for "Academic Search Elite."
  • Optional: If you see another database that might pertain to your subject, tick the box next to it.
  • Click "Continue."
  • Tick the box for "Peer Reviewed."
  • Optional: If you want to limit your results to those articles that you can view online (rather than articles you'll need to walk to the library to get off the shelf), tick the "Full Text" box.
  • Enter search terms in the box at the top of the page, and click Search.
  • Find a recent (less than five years old), peer-reviewed, full-text article. Click the title of the article.
  • If this article isn't exactly what you are looking for:
    • click on the author's name, and see what else the author has written.
    • click on any of the "Subject Terms," and see what other items have been filed with this one.
    • look at the "Works Cited" or "References" list at the end of the article, and start a new search for any of the sources that your article mentions (the secret weapon of academic research!)
    • try different search terms
    • try a different database.


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