ENG 102: Research Paper Assignment

Theme: “Speculating on the Future”

FINAL DUE DATE: May 14, 2021 (finals week of the Spring semester)


As the “pinnacle” assignment of this semester, you’ll write a (minimum) 2500-word research paper that offers a unique and insightful overview of what the future holds for a field of employment, an area of study, or any other vocational path of your choosing. Your paper will offer a thoughtful analysis of your chosen topic, as it relates to changing technologies, social and/or economic changes, or other relevant issues impacting our world at large at the present time.

As a research essay, this assignment will be based in the appropriate theory and methodology, with summary and description kept to a minimum. Your thoughts and original ideas should be supported by the scholarly research that you find online or from other library-based sources. Your final essay will contain between 10 and 15 documented sources, which must be represented in the text and at the end of the text. A minimum of one (1) of those sources must be presented as an annotated bibliography, which we will discuss in advance during the semester.

Before turning in a final draft, you’ll have ample opportunity to submit your topic proposal, an outline for your essay, an annotated bibliography for a source of your choosing, among other assignments. Some graded, and some not, but all of them are required. The research paper is NOT the kind of assignment that should be postponed until a week before it is due. In other words, you can expect to work on this gradually, from the first day of class. 


Start with something you are interested in. This might relate to the career you’re planning to pursue (though it doesn’t have to. Vocational and non-vocational areas of interest are equally acceptable).

For example, let’s say if you are interested in becoming a nurse or doctor. How is COVID 19 expected to impact the practice of medicine and health care in the years and decades ahead? What about the technologies that were developing prior to the pandemic, and are continuing to unfold at the present time? What changes can we expect to see in the years ahead?

There are plenty of options for this assignment, and I look forward to reviewing your first proposal for a topic. Ideally your essay will include some emerging idea, product, trend, movement, etc. that you are interested in, but the rest of us might not yet know about. Or, you might put a new twist on something we all think we know enough about but are missing some critical details. The topic for this assignment is open. The architect of this essay is YOU.

HOW TO RESEARCH: You’ve stated your claims, outlined your essay, and started writing your paragraphs. What happens next…?

Your research should be supported with a minimum of 10 scholarly sources (the four assigned books in this class may all be used as sources) and a minimum 5 popular sources (i.e. magazines or journals, online or off, that are non-academic by nature but still offer relevant information on your topic). Chose a subject that you will be excited about, maybe something with which you are already fairly familiar, yet would like to know more about.

The sources you gather will ultimately add something valuable to your initial ideas. For this reason, you should try to begin researching as soon as possible. Maybe even before the first day of class! Some sources will agree completely with your statements and ideas, while others could contribute a different perspective. Mix it up!

Steps in the Research Essay Writing Process:

There are several steps in the research essay writing process, all of which must be completed for full credit (keep in mind that not all of these are graded as individual assignments, but they are ALL required, and failure to complete all these steps will result in a deduction from the research essay grade, regardless of how well your essay is written.)

The component parts leading up to the completion of the research essay are the 1.) Proposal, 2.) Annotated Bibliography, 3.) Rough Draft, 4.) Peer Review, and 5.) Final Draft.

Each of these steps is an opportunity to address your written and analytical strengths and weaknesses, and to help orient your progress throughout the process of completing your paper (hopefully, this may also result in a better grade. Because this assignment is best completed gradually, day by day, that should help everyone to avoid the mire of procrastination!)

1.) Proposal/Abstract Thesis statement:

For this initial part of the assignment, you will produce a thoughtful thesis statement on a topic of your choice. Remember that you will probably modify your thesis… your research and writing will help to guide your ideas. Your proposal will be a page long and should detail what you hope to accomplish in your paper, outline the major themes, and identify the critical lens you propose to use. In popular culture terms, this is the “blurb” that describes your paper for your reader/audience. This stage of the project provides you instructor feedback and assistance before you start drafting. Be sure to have a clear identifiable thesis. You will want to take a strong position on your topic… “How the Pandemic has moved business online” is not sufficient. Rather, you should take a position on what has caused the change, and speculate about how it will continue to be impacted by future developments. Please ask your peers, your mentor, and your instructor if you are unsure of how to do this. The proposal is not a contract. Your topic will and should change as your progress through your research journey. You will receive feedback on the appropriateness of your topic, whether the scale of the project is workable, and other practical matters.

2.) Annotated bibliography:

An annotated bibliography contains descriptive or evaluative comments on one of the sources you are working with in your research. Please follow correct MLA formatting as appropriate. Please provide at least three sentences of description for at least four sources. You will receive feedback on the appropriateness of your sources given your topic, and an assessment of how on track your project seems to be.

NOTE: Though the References list page that accompanies your rough and final drafts will obviously have many of the same works as your annotated bibliography, since your research is an evolving process there should be some differences. One difference is that the References list page that accompanies a draft of the paper will not be annotated.

An annotation is a summary and/or evaluation.

 [The following information on annotated bibliographies is taken from the OWL at Purdue: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/general/gl_annotatedbib.html]

“An annotated bibliography includes a summary and/or evaluation of each of the sources. Depending on your project or the assignment, your annotations may do one or more of the following:

1. Summarize: Some annotations merely summarize the source. What are the main arguments? What is the point of this book or article? What topics are covered? If someone asked what this article/book is about, what would you say? The length of your annotations will determine how detailed your summary is.

2. Assess [Analysis]: After summarizing a source, it may be helpful to evaluate it. Is it useful source? How does it compare with other sources in your bibliography? Is the information reliable? Is it this source biased or objective? What is the goal of this source?

3. Reflect [Context/Reflection]: Once you’ve summarized and assessed a source, you need to ask how it fits into your research. Was this source helpful to you? How does it help you shape your argument? How can you use this source in your research project? Has it changed how you think about your topic?”


Jaworski, Adam. (1993). The power of silence: Social and pragmatic perspectives.

NewburyPark: Sage Publications, Inc. This is a linguistic study of the function of silence in spoken language. It focuses on silence as communication as relevant to social, political, and emotional aspects of human life. It provides useful evidence on how silence may be used as a form of resistance to power.

*Evaluating sources: Researchers need to be concerned about the sources they use as evidence. Some material you find might be based on incorrect or outdated information, or on poor logic. You should use evaluated books, scholarly journals, academic articles, etc. Be very careful about evaluating an Internet source.

Is the author you are reading an established voice in the field? For example, are you citing an established psychology journal to prove your point about marriage and intimacy or are you citing a source that has recently been on the bestseller list? Is the publisher reputable? How current is the material (if applicable)?

Can you hold the author accountable for the information dispersed?

3) Rough Draft:

Good writing is a process. An integral part of a good writing process is drafting and revision. Getting and giving feedback on writing in progress helps develop your individual writing project as well as your overall writing skill.

The better developed your rough draft, the more useful the peer review will be. You can use this feedback to guide the revisions leading to your final paper.

4) Peer Review in mentor session

Bring in a rough draft of your paper. You will give and receive feedback on each other’s papers.

5) Final Draft

Bring your final polished and well-edited paper to the final exam period.

(*the start of a week is, by definition, the first weekday of class, which falls on a Monday. Any assignments posted to CANVAS after midnight on Tuesday will be considered late, and a deduction of one point per calendar day will be assessed in the final grade for each late assignment).


This link offers EXCELLENT writing resources on the Web: The Owl Online Writing Lab



You will be graded on adherence to MLA formatting, mechanics (such as spelling, punctuation, correct quotations, grammar), clear and concise writing, legitimacy of sources, use of research, depth of analysis, and ability to make your topic important under the theme of the class.


Assessment Rubric

 Competence/Mastery  (20-25)Emerging  (15-19)Insufficient Attempt (0-14)
Appropriate Use of Critical Perspective and Analysis (methodology)Chose the most appropriate lens for the text at hand. Applied thoroughly and accurately. Makes an appropriate, thorough, and convincing argument.Chose a workable lens for the text at hand. Sufficiently thorough and accurate application. Makes an acceptable argument that may not be completely appropriate, thorough, or convincingDid not choose an appropriate lens or applied insufficiently. Does not make a cogent argument
ResearchSources are appropriate to the topic, sufficient in number, and used to properly situate the topic within a larger body of scholarly work.Sufficient number of sources. Most sources are appropriate to the topic and are used to begin situating the topic within the existing research.Inappropriate or insufficient number of sources. Not used to situate topic within existing research.
OrganizationWell organized at the paper, paragraph, and sentence levelLogically organized but uneven at either the paper, paragraph, or sentence levelNot logically organized
Details/ EvidenceProvides enough details and evidence to fully support analysisProvides good evidence but may be lacking in detailDoes not provide enough details or evidence
Format, Mechanics, GrammarProperly formatted (MLA) and virtually error free (NO TITLE PAGE)Some mistakes in formatting OR a few mechanical or grammar errorsErrors distract from content of the paper
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