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ENC1101 Research Paper

Research Paper (Step 1: Data Vetting)

The purpose of this course is to teach you to write a powerful academic essay that can be transferred to any class you take in the future, be it biology or business. By now you have learned not only conventions of good writing, but also how to research and support your ideas, and to present your ideas with confidence. This Research Paper will show any reader that you have mastered the art of composition and discourse in which you are asked to persuade or motivate an audience.

This essay will include:

  • A thesis sentence that clearly states the purpose of the essay
  • Body paragraphs with topic sentences supporting the thesis
  • Evidence, details, and specifics in the body paragraphs to support the topic sentences
  • Clear and logical transitions between the introduction, body, and conclusion
  • A conclusion that does not simply restate the thesis, but reexamines it in light of the evidence provided

The research essay must be a minimum of 1000 words and contain two data charts. You will select your own topic and conduct your own research. All quotes, statistics, charts, and outside sources MUST be cited using correct MLA.

You will work on this paper in three steps:

  1. In the first step you will research, collect, and cull data while vetting various sources.
  2. In the second step you will write a draft of your essay, enrich it with style, and add depth through detail and description.
  3. In the third and final step you will organize and structure an essay organization, finding and incorporating evidence, adding depth through description and details, and revising and proofreading.

Step 1: Data Vetting

You will show that you are capable of conducting academic research using scholarly databases, have the capacity to view an issue from multiple angles, can refute and/or respond to opposing views, and integrate and synthesize information for numerous sources. You will also be able to find and evaluate data from both scholarly databases and other reliable sources. 

In this assignment you will use “Piktochart” to create a visual outline. In the PiktoChart, you will include:

  • One (1) thesis statement,
  • One (1) quote from an expert opinion,
  • One (1) example,
  • One (1) surprising statistic, and
  • Two (2) data charts that you will incorporate into your essay.

Objectives

Learners will be able to:

  • use the reliable databases to gather and cull relevant sources to support your ideas
  • discuss the implications of multiple opposing views on a topic
  • vet your evidence
  • add depth to your essays through detail, description, and data

Research Paper (Step 1: Data Vetting)

Finding Credible Sources Online

To become a successful researcher, students need to learn how to find and evaluate sources. Here are five tips to help you as you gather your sources:

  • Start with a simple search. Search engines such as Google or Yahoo! are great places to start when you’re first reading up on the assigned writing topic. This will provide general information, but these sources are best avoided when you are ready to incorporate sources as evidence.
  • Avoid Wikipedia. Print and digital encyclopedias such as Encyclopedia

Britannica and InfoPlease.com are excellent sources from which to gather material. But be careful of sites such as Wikipedia that allow multiple users to edit. Wikipedia is a great jumping-off point in terms of figuring out what to search for, but double-check all of the facts by using credible sources of information. You will find citations and references at the bottom of most Wikipedia articles. These can lead you to reliable sources. 

  • Use online scholarly databases such as InfoTrac,LexisNexis,EBSCO which provide access to the latest research in hundreds of areas.
  • Newspapers and magazines are also rich sources of information about what is happening now. Consider browsing through the New York Times, TIME, and the Wall Street Journal. Do a search in the archive or newspaper morgue. Also look for local issues in local papers.
  • Don’t forget the library. Often this rich source of information is overlooked because students think it’s more convenient to look subjects up online. The problem with that is you miss out on accidentally stumbling upon a book or magazine that might just be the perfect source for your research paper.
  • The IRSC Library link: http://www.irsc.edu/libraries/findarticles/findarticles.aspx?id=1222

Online Scholarly Databases

Beginning with a simple search of your topic is the best way to dip your toe in the water and get a sense of what’s out there. This will help you gauge the breadth of academic research done on your topic at hand and allow you to narrow your focus to a specific area you want to drill down into:

InfoTrac: Full-text databases of content from academic journals and magazines

LexisNexis: Access to credible legal, business and news information

EBSCO: Database and eBook provider for libraries and other institutions

DOAJ: Directory of Open Access Journals

ProQuest: A collection of many academic and business databases

JSTOR: More than a thousand academic journals and over a million images

Newspapers and magazines can provide a great supplement to online scholarly sources, as well as bring your research up to speed on what’s current and in the news. Make sure to carefully evaluate your sources and choose from those that are known to be objective, reputable and of high quality. Newspapers to start with: The New York Times,Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. Magazines to start with: TIME,

Vetting Sources

As a scholar, you need to find assertions, arguments, conclusions, reasons, data, and intellectual processes that are persuasive because they are well founded and grounded in fact. What is valid is based on, or borne out by, truth, logic, fact, or has legal force a — valid claim. It can be difficult to find a source you can trust because today we are accustomed to believing everything we read. Much of what is posted online, however, turns out to be CRAP.

Here are some guidelines to assess Internet resources, such as Web pages and blogs:

  • Currency - Is the information current? Is it updated regularly?
  • Reliability - Is the source reputable? Is it accurate?
  • Authority - Who created the information? Why?
  • Purpose/Point of View - Is there a balance of perspectives? Is the information biased?

Expert Author: The author should be an authority on the subject matter. The article will typically list the author’s academic degree and affiliate institution. 

Author Objectivity: It should be clear that the author’s purpose is to inform, educate, and explain. Are the author’s arguments supported by properly cited facts from multiple sources? 

Peer Reviews: The article should be reviewed by other experts in the author’s field of study. You can find peer-reviewed articles in scholarly journal databases such as InfoTrac and LexisNexis. Visit the school or public library databases to find vetted, peer-reviewed sources.

Reputable Scholarly Journal: The article you’re citing should appear in a university press, an academic press, or a peer-reviewed press. 

Robust Bibliography: A credible source from a scholarly journal or database should contain a bibliography or references list that demonstrates the depth and breadth of the author’s research. 

High-Quality Content: The author’s material should be clearly organized and relevant to the topic at hand. And of course, the article should be well written and free of grammatical and spelling errors.

Free Data Sources

One of the biggest concerns we hear from students is that they simply don’t know where to find data. The reality is that there are thousands of free data sets available, ready to be analyzed and visualized. You just need to know where to look.

  1. gov http://data.gov The U.S. Government pledged to make all government data available freely online. This site is the first stage and acts as a portal to all sorts of amazing information on everything from climate to crime.
  2. S. Census Bureau http://www.census.gov/data.html This site has a wealth of information on the lives of U.S. citizens covering population data, geographic data, and education.
  3. Socrata http://www.socrata.com is another interesting place to explore government-related data. This site has some visualization tools built-in.
  4. European Union Open Data Portal http://open-data.europa.eu/en/data/ based on data from European Union institutions.
  5. gov.uk http://data.gov.uk/ Data from the UK Government, including the British National Bibliography – metadata on all UK books and publications since 1950.
  6. Canada Open Data is a pilot project with many government and geospatial datasets.
  7. org offers open government data from US, EU, Canada, CKAN, and more.
  8. The CIA World Factbook https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook Information on history, population, economy, government, infrastructure and military of 267 countries.
  9. gov https://www.healthdata.gov/ 125 years of US healthcare data including claim-level Medicare data, epidemiology and population statistics.
  10. NHS Health and Social Care Information Centre http://www.hscic.gov.uk/home Health data sets from the UK National Health Service.
  11. UNICEF offers statistics on the situation of women and children worldwide.
  12. World Health Organization offers world hunger, health, and disease statistics.
  13. Amazon Web Services public datasets http://aws.amazon.com/datasets Huge resource of public data, including the 1000 Genome Project, an attempt to build the most comprehensive database of human genetic information and NASA ’s database of satellite imagery of Earth.
  14. Facebook Graph https://developers.facebook.com/docs/graph-api Although much of the information on users’ Facebook profile is private, a lot isn’t – Facebook provide the Graph API as a way of querying the huge amount of information that its users are happy to share with the world (or can’t hide because they haven’t worked out how the privacy settings work).
  15. http://face.com/: A fascinating tool for facial recognition data.
  16. UCLA makes some of the data from its courses public.
  17. Data Market is a place to check out data related to economics, healthcare, food and agriculture, and the automotive industry.
  18. Google Public data explorer includes data from world development indicators, OECD, and human development indicators, mostly related to economics data and the world.
  19. Junar is a data scraping service that also includes data feeds.
  20. Buzzdata is a social data sharing service that allows you to upload your own data and connect with others who are uploading their data.
  21. Gapminder http://www.gapminder.org/data/ Compilation of data from sources including the World Health Organization and World Bank covering economic, medical and social statistics from around the world.
  22. Google Trends Statistics on search volume (as a proportion of total search) for any given term, since 2004.
  23. Google Finance 40 years’ worth of stock market data, updated in real time.
  24. Google Books Ngrams Search and analyze the full text of any of the millions of books digitised as part of the Google Books project.
  25. National Climatic Data Center Huge collection of environmental, meteorological and climate data sets from the US National Climatic Data Center. The world’s largest archive of weather data.
  26. DBPedia Wikipedia is comprised of millions of pieces of data, structured and unstructured on every subject under the sun. DBPedia is an ambitious project to catalogue and create a public, freely distributable database allowing anyone to analyze this data.
  27. New York Times Searchable, indexed archive of news articles going back to 1851.
  28. Freebase A community-compiled database of structured data about people, places and things, with over 45 million entries.
  29. Million Song Data Set Metadata on over a million songs and pieces of music. Part of Amazon Web Services.
  30. UCI Machine Learning Repository is a dataset specifically pre-processed for machine learning.
  31. Financial Data Finder at OSU offers a large catalog of financial data sets.
  32. Pew Research Center offers its raw data from its fascinating research into American life.
  33. The BROAD Institute offers a number of cancer-related datasets.

Research Paper Outline with Two Charts Grading Rubric 25 Points Possible

Criteria

Mastered

(5 points)

Needs Revision  (3.5 points)

Unacceptable (2 points)

Total

Thesis

Statement

(5 points)

Thesis Statement is clear and focused, and leaves no question as to the claim the writer will defend. 

Thesis is somewhat vague and unclear. Reader may not fully understand the claim the writer will defend.

Thesis is not clear and focused. May leave the reader with a question as to the claim the writer will defend. 

Example

(5 points)

The example provided is appropriate and the writer has considered the rhetoric appeals. Work is cited correctly. 

The example is provided, but may be inappropriate to the

topic or the writer does not seem to have considered the rhetoric appeals.

Work may not be cited correctly.

The example provided is inappropriate and/or the writer has not considered the rhetoric appeals. Work is not cited. 

Statistic (5 points)

The statistic is cited, comes from a vetted source, and is appropriate for the topic.

Work is cited correctly.

The statistic may not

be correctly cited, or comes from a questionable source. Work may not be cited correctly.  

The statistic is not cited, or does not come from a vetted source. It may not be appropriate to topic.

Work is not cited.

Charts

(5 points)

The charts contain accurate data, are correctly labeled, and are easy to read and understand. Work is cited correctly.

The charts may not contain accurate data, or are incorrectly labeled, and/or are unclear and difficult to read and understand. Work may not be cited correctly.

The charts may contain inaccurate data, or are not labeled, and/or are impossible to read and understand. Work is not cited.

Expert Opinion

Quote

(5 points)

The expert and quote selected are appropriate to the topic and thesis statement. Work is cited correctly. 

The expert and quote selected are inappropriate to the topic and thesis statement. Work may be cited incorrectly. 

The expert and quote selected are either missing, uncited, or inappropriate to the topic and thesis statement.

Work is not cited.

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