The core of this assignment is quite simple:
Make a list of at least ten sources you have found so far that may be relevant to your research question. They do not all need to be scholarly, though I expect you to have some by now. The scholarly ones should be labeled (see below).
There are certain rules you must follow in order to complete the assignment successfully:
- Alphabetize the list by authors last name.
- Format the list according to MLA guidelines. If youíre using Noodle Tools (NT), all you have to do is enter the correct information in the correct fields and NT will do the rest for you. If not, these MLA citation guides will give you the basics on how to format your works cited page:
- The MLA page at the Purdue OWL (Online Writing Lab)
- The MLA page at Western Oregon University
- The MLA guide from Highline Community College (PDF)
Besides the MLA formatting rules, I have some requirements of my own:
- Identify the thesis of each source, in your own words (do not simply copy from the article). I want to be sure you are familiar with the basic idea of the source and that you understand exactly what a thesis is. Remember that a thesis can only be expressed as a complete declarative sentence, not a phrase or a question. Put the thesis at the end of the entry for that source, after all the information required in the MLA guidelines. (In Noodle Tools, put the thesis in the Annotation field.)
- Summarize your five best (most useful) sources. The best way to do a summary is to list the main points of the article. Usually 1 Ė 3 sentences is plenty. (In Noodle Tools, put the summary in the Annotation field.)
- Explain how those five sources answer your research question, or how they contribute to an answer. (In Noodle Tools, put the explanation in the annotation field.)
- Label all scholarly sources. This is so I can check your understanding of what a scholarly source is, and so you and I can both make sure you will have the required number of scholarly sources in your final bibliography. Scholarly sources can be labeled with an S at the end of the entry, by using special formatting (e.g. bold or italics) or in any other way that clearly identifes them. You may mark them by hand with a pen or pencil if thatís easier. If you use formatting or special characters to identify scholarly sources, please include a note somewhere on your list explaining this. In Noodle Tools you may add ďthis is a scholarly sourceĒ in the Annotation field.
- Include your research question at the top of the page.
The paper will be scored on the following eight categories. Each will receive a score of 4, 3, 2, 1 or 0 (corresponding to the letter grades A Ė F). The total grade will be an average of those scores.
The research question
- is focused and unified
- leads to an arguable and descriptive thesis
- are of the correct quantity and type (10 total, minimum 3 scholarly, reference works may be used but do not count toward the total, no textbooks without my prior approval)
- are adequate and appropriate to your topic
- are correctly categorized (scholarly vs. non-scholarly)
- identify the thesis of every source, in your own words
- identify the main points of your five best sources, in your own words
- explain how each of your five best sources answers or helps to answer the research question
The list should be formatted according to MLA guidelines, but Iím not going to grade on that because there are tools that will do it for you (e.g. Noodle Tools). If itís not correct, Iíll either note the mistakes (if there arenít too many) or make you do it over before I grade it (if there are a lot).
Most of you are far enough along that you already have, or will soon have, at least ten sources. Thatís why Iíve included the summaries as part of this assignment. Doing the summaries now will leave you more time to read and critique the sources later, which is the core of the next assignment. However, if you are not quite ready to do that, I am offering an alternative. Hereís how it works:
You may choose not to include summaries in this assignment. You will still be required to identify the theses of all your sources. I will score all the other categories besides identifying the main points and explaining how the source answers the research question. Therefore all the other categories will be worth a little bit more.
If you prefer to use this option, please indicate your choice at the top of your paper.
Whichever option you choose, summaries will be a required element in our next assignment. Doing them now gives you a chance to get started early and revise for the next assignment if you find problems.