Archive for March, 2010

What is a Scholarly Source?

0 Commentsby   |  03.29.10  |  Research and Cultural Identity

To follow up our discussion of scholarly sources in class, below are criteria to consider when searching for scholarly sources.

Scholarly Sources:

  • Are written by scholars (people with Ph.D.s) who are experts on relevant subject matter
  • Include articles published in peer-reviewed journals
  • Have a thesis and are fairly long (usually 10+ pages for articles)
  • Include books published by a scholarly publisher (like a university press)
  • Use extensive verifiable evidence to support their claims
  • Usually have a (long) list of Works Cited or bibliographic footnotes
  • Have a professional design
  • Are up-to-date and relevant to the issues being researched

Research Goals and Evaluating Secondary Sources

by   |  03.29.10  |  Research and Cultural Identity

In class on Friday, we discussed the following items related to the goals of research:

What are some of the purposes of research?

  • To confirm the validity of your claims – appealing to the opinions of experts
  • To establish your credibility as an informed reader of a text
  • To provide historical context for your argument/analysis
  • To discover new knowledge (highest goal of research)

Pitfalls of Using Secondary Sources

  • Losing your own voice

Secondary sources should be used sparingly to supplement your claims about a text – claims from secondary sources cannot be your primary argument about the text. When quoting a secondary sources, be sure to follow up the quote with your explanation or argument about why the information from the secondary source is relevant to your claims.

  • Quoting sources that have no relation to your text
  • Failure to properly cite sources

Research Step 1

by   |  03.24.10  |  Research and Cultural Identity

To document your work on Step 1 of the research project, please respond to the following items as a comment to this blog post:

  1. What is/are your selected primary literary text(s)?
  2. What particular aspect of cultural identity appears in your primary literary text(s)?
  3. What is your (narrowly focused) research question?

The research room at the New York Public Library, as photographed by Diliff, edited by Vassil:


Cultural Identity and The Research Question

by   |  03.22.10  |  Research and Cultural Identity, Thesis

Consider the following guidance when working on Step 1 of the Research Essay Project:

Many different factors can work independently or in combination to construct a person’s or primary text’s understanding of cultural identity, including (but not limited to) the following:

  • Ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Religion
  • Socioeconomic status or class
  • Education
  • Occupation
  • Political ideology
  • Sexual orientation
  • Geographic location
  • Nationality
  • Language

The cultural identities noted above can be explored in a number of ways as well, including how cultural identity affects understandings of various issues, such as:

  • Law and public policy
  • Environmental and technological issues
  • Community involvement and service
  • Access to employment, education, and healthcare
  • Economics and global resources
  • Immigration, assimilation, and separation
  • Ecumenism and sectarianism

The Research Question

In addition to the examples and guidance on the assignment sheet for Step 1, please read the section from your Sequence textbook on generating research questions (261-64). Additional guidance on research questions can be found on the following links:

When developing a research question, the key is specificity. Narrowing the focus is, generally, the best approach.

Exploring Cultural Identity

by   |  03.08.10  |  In-Class Writing Assignments, Research and Cultural Identity, Thesis

To practice thinking and writing about the idea of a research question, which is required for the research paper, please choose to focus on either “What You Pawn I Will Redeem” by Sherman Alexie or “My Faith in Nonviolence” by Mohandas Gandhi and respond as a group to the following items about your selected text and post your response in a comment to this blog post:

  1. Which text are you responding to and who is in your group?
  2. An issue is more specific and more focused than a topic. Given the topic of exploring cultural identity, what specific issue(s) can you identify regarding cultural identity in this text?
  3. What specific evidence (language, details, ideas) from the text creates this issue?
  4. A research question, I would argue, is even more specific than an issue. Try to frame your response to item #2 above as a question that could generate further research.

Below is a photo of Sherman Alexie:

Alexie photo by Larry D. Moore – (CC) Larry D. Moore.