Reverse Research Assignment for Freshmen
- Choose an anthology of readable, but scholarly essays (popular culture studies are good places to start), or gather enough essays or book chapters so that each student has his or her own essay to work with.
- The assignment has four parts and is designed to improve these skills:
- Understanding and summarizing in writing a scholarly essay;
- Discerning among various kinds of source materials;
- Gathering source materials;
- Understanding how sources are used to create research papers.
It is best not provide all instructions below at once to students; instead, give instructions for each step in turn. Students may progress at differing rates, and those who need the most assistance will be overwhelmed if given the entire project at once.
Instruction for Students
Due: 1 month from start of class
- Read the research essay you have chosen and hand in a one-page summary of its argument. This portion may require multiple drafts, so hand in your summary well ahead of the final deadline.
- Turn to the footnotes. On a separate sheet of paper, retype the footnotes [or the first 15, or selected numbers] and annotate each with this information:
- What is the source? Is it a book, a journal article, an encyclopedia entry, an article from a popular magazine? See librarian or myself with questions as you identify sources. Note that you must have begun your work in earnest before asking for assistance.
- Does The University of Mississippi library have this source? If it is an article, is the entire article available from one of our online databases.
Due: 2 months from the start of class
- Choose THREE sources from the footnotes you have identified, locate the items and bring them to me for verification.
Due: 3 months from the start of classes
- For each of your three sources, go to the page that your research essay cites. Read enough of the preceding and following pages (or the entire source if you wish) to be able to tell how and why the author of your essay used the source. For each of the sources, write a one-page explanation of why the source was used.
Due: 4 months from the start of classes
- Final draft of one-page explanations with corrections and with the addition of the proper MLA citation for each source in a bibliography at the end.
Provided by Joseph Urgo, Former Chair, Department of English