Individual Research Assignment

Individually, you will write approximately 5 pages (1250-1500 words) outlining the history and dynamics of a social cause or interest.

This will cover not only what the issue is about, but who the main stakeholders are and their positions on the issue.

You do not have to solve the problem - consider this a background paper on the issue so that in the second and third assignments, someone might pick your topic and have a good idea what it's about so that they can start proposing solutions or action.

Having a specific topic will be easier than one that's too vague. 5 pages on "the environment" will be 5 very superficial pages by definition.

Proper referencing is expected and incorrect referencing penalized - tips on referencing will be discussed in the third week's tutorial section. Wikipedia is a good place to start research, but a bad place to end - it's a good introduction to a topic, but it's limited in scope. Aim higher.

Due Date: Thursday, February 5, 2009

AN IMPORTANT NOTE: While posting on the wiki, if you want to do footnotes to cite your work, use this code. < ref > insert URL </ ref > (without the spaces) at the end of your sentence. It'll automatically generate a footnotes list for you at the end of the page. (N.B. Give this a go if composing on the wiki - people tried that a bit last year - it's not perfect, but it does generally work. - mlwjones mlwjones)
If anyone has any questions or helpful suggestions please do post here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can we choose any topic for our research? Or does it have to be related to the course in some way?
It does not have to be related to topics covered in the course. Any issue that you feel personally passionate about will do. It should be something that involves others somewhat - i.e., someone out there should share your interest somehow. Do note it should have some social or cultural impact, point of crisis or debate attached - e.g., five pages on the history of a medium isn't really a cultural or political touchpoint or debate, unless there is some controversy or debate associated with it. So, comics of the 1950s isn't a social issue; the self-censorship of major American comic publishers in response to social concerns of propriety certainly is.
Does it have to be a large, complex or global problem?
No, and it may make sense to focus on something more manageable. Much can be done with very local events or issues (e.g., protesting a local school closure, dealing with poverty in a local community , etc.) If you're having trouble with scope, localization may help.
Do we have to have footnotes or endnotes or just a bibliography at the end?
You have to use proper contextual citation. If you don't know any citation standards, use MLA and learn it well. There are many citation style guidelines out there online to consult how to reference citations in-text. will easily create MLA-compliant bibliographies.
Do we have to hand in paper in the class or post on the wik?
What time does the assignment have to be posted by on Thursday?
You don't need to hand in a hard copy. You just have to post it on wiki on your personal page.
What if we just realized our assignment is sort of controversial and we don't really want to post it publicly?
Feel free not to post the assignment as long as you speak to Mike Jones about it. You should email the assignment to him if so. For this assignment, given it's more an objective analysis of a topic vs. a personal stance, there shouldn't be much of an issue. Pseudonyms are also possible in the event of issues that are personally potentially troublesome. That said, effective change champaigns are usually not anonymous.
How should we cite/reference
pictures and media in the personal
page? Is it enough to just have the
link next to it or should it be incorperated in
the works cited list?

Where to find sources for this project: (in case you missed tutorial)
  • scholars portal for articles and e-books
  • UTM library
  • primary sources available also- gov websites, interviews, surveys
  • you can also blogs, discussion groups for information, opinions of other individuals
  • use as many sources as possible as long as they are valid

General Notes:
  • in-text citations are okay to use in the assignment
  • MLA and APA both accepted
  • make in-text citations clear so sources can be easily found in bibliography (dont forget dates)
  • the research project should be structured more like a report rather than an essay
  • You can also use Refworks, not just easybib. It can be accessed from the Library's page (research tools). It helps manage you references easily, and is better for academic purposes. For example, when you find an article on Scholars Portal that you want to use, you can just click on the button Refworks and it cites the information for you itself without you having to enter it. (But if you want to cite a blog or something similiar, you will have to enter the info yourself). You can also select which style (APA, MLA, etc) you want to use, and it changes the citations accordingly.
  • In addition to Refworks and Easybib, Microsoft Word also has a good reference tool you can use. Just pick MLA or APA as the style and add sources as you write your paper. Word will build the bibliography for you, so in the end you can just insert it at the end of your paper.