This is the first assignment designed to prepare you for the 7-10 page research paper. This assignment is not an essay–it is a set of responses to 4 questions. This is the first step in the Research Paper writing process. There is a model available in the Modules–your Focus Paper should look like the model. Each response is worth 5 points.
The purpose of the focus paper is to offer you a chance to organize your thoughts on your topic, to reflect on your rationale, and to strengthen your motivation for writing it. To start, choose a topic from the list of possible topics given in the Research Paper assignment. Then, respond to the following prompts:
1. Prior knowledge and experience: State your topic and explain its significance to you or its importance as a social or political issue. What personal experience or prior knowledge do you have regarding the issue? What is your tentative position on the issue? (This may change as you conduct your research)
2. Research questions: While you have a tentative position on the topic, you probably have at least 2 or 3 questions you hope to answer regarding your topic. What are those questions? Answer one as best you can without help of any sources. (As you continue to go through your research, keep these questions in mind and note whether or not they have been answered satisfactorily.)
3. Initial source: Offer a synopsis of the reading selection in Rereading America that you will cite in your research paper. Do you have a sense of how you will use it in yøur paper? Consider: Does it offer helpful contextual information to your topic? Does it offer evidentiary support for your position? A counterargument? Does it point you to other sources?
4. Concerns: Describe 1 or 2 problems do you expect to encounter as you research your paper? How do you plan to solve them?
Guidelines for the Focus Paper
Number your responses to each section.
“Professor, can you provide us with examples for each response section of the Focus Paper.”