For the midterm paper, your thesis claim will be that the research question you have decided to go with is excellent! Your whole paper should explain why your research question is excellent (that it is a fresh or interesting question to you and others; that it is a feasible research question because you feel confident about sources; and that it is sufficiently focused on a particular aspect of the culture you are investigating).

Your research question must connect clearly to the course theme about cultural identity and it must be an analytic, open-ended question. Please make sure it is a question about which you are genuinely curious. (Remember everything you’ve been reading about good research questions in The Curious Researcher!) The research question you propose in this midterm paper will guide you as you pursue your research project for the rest of the quarter.

Your midterm paper should be written in essay format and address these four prompts:

Explain what you know, what you don’t know, what personal history you may share, and what specifically you are curious to learn about with regard to the American cultural identity that you will investigate. [1-2 paragraphs]
Carefully articulate one analytic open-ended question that will provide the focus for your research. This question will likely be a Why? or How? question. Explain how you arrived at this final research question among all the other questions you may have considered. [1-2 paragraphs]
Explain how several (3-4) resources you already possess or know about could be useful in your research project. E.g., How does your research question connect with one of the course texts? What other sources have you located are potentially relevant and interesting? Identify three or four sources that look promising, and explain why. As you are identifying useful sources, bear in mind that your job is to foreground the “so what?” of your research–why it is important/interesting to keep contributing to research and conversations about the culture you are investigating. [1-2 paragraphs]
Propose where and how will you conduct your research throughout the rest of the quarter.
Which libraries will you make use of to find other research that has already been completed that is relevant to your research question? … How? …When?
How will you conduct a bit of primary research (through personal engagement and/or observation)? I encourage you all to plan for one or more first-hand observations of the culture you are exploring as a way to deepen your interest and investment in the research process. [1-2 paragraphs]. First hand observations include any primary sources– stories/books by and about a member of the cultural group (e.g., Alexie’s Reservation Blues), a blog written by and about a member of a cultural group, a video… etc. These kinds of sources abound. I want you all to include references to at least one primary source in your final paper, so I want you to begin thinking about how to do that in this midterm essay.
Use essay format as you respond to the four prompts in any order that works for you. Add an introduction and conclusion and add transitional phrases as needed. Regard the worthiness of your carefully developed research question as the core argument of your paper. That is, your thesis in this paper is your argument that the particular research question you have identified is Fresh (interesting, worthy and relevant), Feasible (plenty of sources available) and Focused (not too general and not too narrow).

Be sure to cite sources when you refer to them in the body of your paper. Use in-text (parenthetical) citations with author’s last name (or names) and include a full citation in a “Works Cited” list at the end of your paper. HERE (Links to an external site.) is a link to the document that includes most of the works we have read this quarter listed with their bibliographic information (it’s set so everyone in the class can add information in case you find something that you think is worth sharing with the whole class). When you create your Work(s) Cited list, don’t forget to double space evenly, and to indent the second and subsequent lines for each entry.It is always your responsibility to make sure the entries in your Work(s) Cited list are formatted correctly, but it is okay to use a citation-generating program such as BibMe (Links to an external site.), Citation Machine (Links to an external site.), or the one embedded in WORD.

Sample Midterm Papers from former classes:

SS’s Midterm Paper Engl 102 W 2015Preview the documentView in a new window

JL’s Midterm Paper Engl 102 W 2015Preview the documentView in a new win

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