ENGLISH 2233 – Environmental Literature – THE “I-SEARCH” PAPER
ASSIGNMENT: This paper is designed to teach the writer and the reader something valuable about a chosen topic and about the nature of searching and discovery. As opposed to the standard research paper where a writer usually assumes a detached and objective stance, the “I-Search” paper allows you to relate your experience of hunting for facts and opinions firsthand, and to provide a step-by-step record of the search process. It’s a research paper that is overtly reflective. This means that you will use your first-person pronoun in your writing (“I”).
APPROXIMATE PAGE REQUIREMENT: 5-6 pages (this does not include a separate Works Cited page).
FORMAT OF THE I-SEARCH PAPER
Your paper should have three distinct sections, as noted below. The three parts of this paper can be organized explicitly (for example, set off with subheadings) or implicitly (as a seamless essay).
PART I: MY POEM, AND WHAT I WOULD LIKE TO EXPLORE
This section is to be written before conducting formal research. Write a section in which you explain to the reader which poem you selected from our course this semester. What did you find interesting about this poem? How has it encouraged you to explore an environmental issue/question in greater depth? What additional information would make your reading/understanding of this poem richer? Approximate length: 1-2 pages, typed.
PART II: THE SEARCH
Test your knowledge, assumptions, or conjectures by researching your topic thoroughly. Consult useful books, magazines, newspapers, films, and library databases for information (do not rely “open web” sources for this assignment**). If possible, interview people who are authorities or who are familiar with this topic.
After collecting information, write about your search in a narrative form (chronologically with specific details) to record the steps of the discovery process. Do not feel obligated to tell everything, but highlight the happenings and facts you uncovered that were crucial to your hunt and contributed to your understanding of the topic. When quoting directly from sources, you must document sources of information using citations when appropriate and necessary. You should absolutely quote the key information that you found, and explain how it connects to your text(s).
**I understand that your impulse will want to just google your topic to find sources. This exercise is asking you to do something different. You are required to use 6 sources for this essay. 2 out of the 6 may be credentialed open-web sources (archived at .edu or .org, etc.) – or from respected magazines/journals (New York Times, Washington Post, etc.). Explain in your exposition what makes the online source a valuable/credentialed one.
Approximate length: 2-3 pages, typed.
PART III: WHAT I DISCOVERED
After concluding your search, return to your poem again. How has this additional information deepened your understanding of the issue at work in the poem? Compare what you thought you knew, assumed, or imagined with what you actually discovered, and offer some personal commentary and/or draw some conclusions. This part of the paper will also contain citations indicating the information you learned from your sources. You should also make direct connections to the poem, and discuss how your reading is enriched with this additional research. Approximate length: 2 pages, typed.
WORKS CITED PAGE AND IN-TEXT CITATIONS
Your I-Search essay will be based on a variety of sources retrieved primarily from the OW College library (books, articles, videos). All electronic sources used must be accessed through library databases and cited accordingly. You are permitted to use 2 sources retrieved directly from the Internet if they are from substantial sources. Additional sources such as personal interviews may be used, depending on availability. All quoted, summarized, or paraphrased material must be cited parenthetically within the text, using the correct MLA format for in-text citations, and all cited sources must also have a corresponding entry in a separate Works Cited page. Works Cited entries must be formatted according to MLA 7th edition style.
Though this is not technically a thesis-driven paper, there should nevertheless be a clear and compelling idea that drives the paper forward and around which the entire essay will be focused. The essay must conform to college-level requirements for coherent, well-developed, analytical essays. I will evaluate your paper based on overall quality of writing, quality of source material, sophistication of analysis of sources, organization of ideas, clarity of expression, as well as general areas such as grammar, spelling, and conventions of documentation.
IMPORTANT DUE DATES
NOV 16 Proposal Worksheet (submitted through blackboard)
NOV 23 Submit an annotated works cited with 6 sources in proper MLA format. For each source, offer a couple sentences discussing why it is valuable to and for your research topic (submitted through blackboard)
NOV 30h Writer’s Review Workshop (blackboard discussion board)
DEC 9th Final Draft due
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