On Tap Today:
- I-Search Structure
- I-Search Topics
What does the paper “look” like?
The I-search is a narrative of sorts, describing your search for answers to your research questions.
Macrorie lists four parts of the paper, though, as he notes, this is flexible:
- What I Knew
- Why I’m Writing
- The Search
- What I Learned
In this way, the introduction begins with what prompted the questions you’re asking, and the paper moves on from there, in narrative fashion. The writing you have previously done may help you get started, but you also might more formally write about what you knew about the topic and why you’re writing the paper.
The body of the paper, then, is the narrative of your search for answers and your reflection on the process and use of methods. I often suggest that you begin with the source that is “closest” to you, the one that is easiest to access, and see where the information you find there leads you. However, you might also have a more concrete research plan in place when you begin.
You will use primary sources for this paper, things like interviewing, observation and field notes, surveys, other documents from the context you’re studying. What you choose in terms of methods and sources depends, of course, on your research questions. We will work through some readings and mini-presentations in class in order to learn more about these kinds of methods.
The conclusion of the paper is likely going to be different than the traditional conclusion you may be used to in academic writing. While you may be able to summarize what you’ve learned, it’s also just as likely that you will be left with more questions, or will have gone down an unsatisfying research path. This is also worth writing about, as you are nevertheless learning about the research process, and can always carry your inquiry forth in a future paper.
Bear in mind that you will be working with 2-3 partners on Project Four
- Take a few minutes to brainstorm a list of key words about your topic. What do people debate about it? What do you find most compelling about it?
- Write at least one question that could be raised about your issue that starts with each of the following words: who, what, when, where, how, why, should, would. In other words, you need to come up with eight (8) questions total.
- Answer the following:
- What is your ultimate goal in writing about this topic? Are you informing? Defining? Evaluating or comparing? Proposing a solution?
- Who is your audience? What will they be interested about your topic?
- Eliminate the questions from step 2 that do not fit your goal or audience.
- Of the questions that remain identify the most compelling. Which is the most interesting?
- Extra nuances to create open-ended questions:
- Use a phrase such as “To what extent…” “What are the effects…” “What would happen if…
- Combine two of your original eight questions.
Finally, you may wish to consider other prewriting strategies such as:
- cluster mapping
Testing your Question
When you’re thinking about whether or not your I-Search question will “work,” ask yourself the following questions:
- Is it stated as a question or set of questions, instead of a statement?
- Do I need to clarify any terms to make my research question understandable to my audience?
- Is my question about one of my secondary discourses/ discourse communities, or one that I plan to/hope to join in the NEAR future?
- Is my question related to the function of that d.c., communication in that d.c., ways of being in that d.c. or movement within that d.c.?
- Am I personally invested in exploring this question? Why or how will exploring this question help me understand my discourse community?
- Is my question something I can research using primary and secondary sources? What research site or scene do I plan to investigate? Can it be answered too easily, or do I need a diverse set of sources to understand the answer?
- Is my question specific or concrete enough to explore in 1500-2000 words? Or is it too broad or too narrow?
Homework due by classtime Tuesday, 10/7/14
Finish presentation for Project Two
Write a blog post (@300 words) about your understanding of the I-Search assignment. Demonstrate your understanding by referring to the Macrorie and Postman and Weingartner readings. Also discuss what topic you will use for the I-Search. Answer the following:
What do I know (or think I know) about this topic?
Why do I want to know the answer(s) to my question?