Investigative Research Paper (13-15 pages, plus Work Cited page)
The purpose of the longer investigative research paper is to help you to become a mini-expert in almost any topic of your choice. Students decide on their topics a myriad of ways, but the most imperative preparation for doing this investigative research paper is that you choose to write about a subject for which you have passion. If you can’t think of anything you are particularly interested in, you may want to start with something you like–even if it is just tortillas–or a field of study you wish to discover more about.
For the Investigative Research Paper, you begin with a “working question” that you state in your research proposal. Together in class, you create a more focused research question with subquestions through workshop. This focused research questions then slowly transforms into a “working thesis” from which you create a “working-introduction” or “-lead.” By the time you turn in your final draft, a successful Investigative Research Paper will have a strong lead or introduction that shines a flashlight into the rest of the essay, an appropriate tone and structure based on the subject of the paper, and an ending that concludes the answer to your research question.
Writing longer investigative papers help us to research, analyze, and synthesize scholarly (peer reviewed) sources that we generally do not have access to when we are not affiliated with a research university. We gain information literacy by learning to search for academic articles utilizing our university’s online databases and research guides; we also learn how to create our own primary source materials (e.g. field work observations, surveys, and interviews) to help contextualize our writing through “coding.” A strong final draft of the Investigative Research Paper, suitably codes primary sources, while also conducting an in-depth synthesis and analysis of secondary sources that answers the question–so what?
Lastly, an accomplished Investigative Research Paper will have adequate use of language throughout the essay with a variety of complex sentence structures and appropriate paragraph lengths. Students choose between MLA, APA, Chicago Manual Style citation for their papers based on the subject field and need to stick to one citation method throughout the essay including the Work Cited Page. The paper should be in 12 point font, Times (or something comparable), and double spaced.
The Investigative Research Paper counts for double the amount of the regular essay (i.e. Analytical Profile, Cover Letter). We will be doing multiple, increasing drafts and peer review scaffolding up to the due date of final draft of Investigative Research Paper, which is tentatively scheduled for the beginning of Week 7. Because of the amount of time I am giving you to do this longer paper, I expect a thoughtfully edited final draft.