Essay #2B: Explanatory Synthesis Paper (30%)
Research Prospectus Due:
Monday, Feb. 17 in library
February 19 & 24
February 21 & 24 (Fri. & Mon.)
Rough Draft Due:
Wednesday, Feb. 26 (2 copies)
#2B: Explanatory Synthesis
Wednesday, March 5
6 typewritten pages (1300-1500 words)
This paper will be a review of an issue related to your summary article: Work in the 21st Century, Green Power, Parenting and Education, Business & Advertising, or Rumors. Find a topic that you 1) care about but 2) need to learn more about. You will be practicing the skills of synthesis in order to investigate the topic in greater depth and work with sources more expertly. In general terms, a synthesis is "the combination of separate elements to form a coherent whole" (American Heritage Dictionary. 2nd college edition). Thus, an explanatory synthesis combines many sources in order to show the range of perspectives and information on an issue. According to our textbook, "An explanation helps readers understand a topic. Writers explain when they divide a subject into its component parts and present them to the reader in a clear and orderly fashion. . . . Your job in writing an explanatory paper ... is not to argue a particular point, but rather to present the facts in a reasonably objective manner. Explanatory papers should be based on a thesis. But the purpose of a thesis in an explanatory paper is less to advance a particular opinion than to focus the various facts contained in the paper" (WRAC 109).
The Assignment: You will write an explanatory synthesis on a topic before writing your position paper (#2C) on an issue involving that topic. Your synthesis should demonstrate that you understand the main contribution of each source to the ongoing conversation about the issue as well as the relationships between the sources. Does a particular article offer key statistics, a controversial point of view, corroboration of...
Cited: page that corresponds to your in-text citations. I will look at this preliminary attempt at synthesizing your sources and track how accurate your documentation skills are. I will not look at introductory paragraphs. Copious feedback will be provided; you must meet this deadline in order to take advantage of the “free pass” because of the tight timetable. Please note the amount of points this is worth and take this step very seriously!
Step Work Assignments
PROSPECTUS (6 WPG pts.): A Prospectus is a statement outlining the main features of a paper that you intend to write; it represents your initial plan for your research. Your prospectus should be a typed paragraph that contains the following information: Tell what your topic is and identify as specifically as possible what interests you about this topic. Explain what research question your paper will try to answer about the topic that represents your own approach to the issue. Discuss what kinds of sources you might use by identifying the kinds of information you will need to answer your question fully. (You will have done a preliminary amount of research on the web, but mostly I want you to just brainstorm about the kind of things you hope to find. If you have done research, report briefly what you have found.) State which, if any, articles from WRAC you plan to use.
Your paragraph should be approximately 150 words and typed.
I will be looking to make sure your topic is focused enough and that you have a manageable terrain for the length of paper assigned. Too broad a topic) will make your research unnecessarily frustrating or intimidating. Trying to cover too much also complicates the writing and almost invariably leads to over-generalizations, which are rarely enlightening. For example, "affirmative action" is much too broad a topic, whereas "Have affirmative action policies resulted in more or less equity in education?" provides a manageable limit on a big issue. "Racial profiling" is broad; "How has racial profiling changed since 9/ 11?" is focused.
Your topic must ultimately be approved by me in writing.
**Your plan is not supposed to be engraved in granite. Like most successful plans, it should be thoughtful, but also flexible. Your plans will inevitably evolve as you begin to research and write, and this is a healthy part of the process. In other words, plan for your plan to change.
**You may not change your topic after Monday, Feb. 24. You must submit a new Prospectus for every brand new topic.
CONFERENCES (6 WPG pts.): Bring your work in progress (notes, scribbles, research, a working thesis, an outline of ideas) to my office in 315 Maaske for your 20-minute appointment. You will run the discussion by focusing on the areas of concern in your research so far. We may want to concentrate on checking the range of your sources, your thesis, or how the sources can be synthesized. Please be prepared and on time.
THESIS & BODY WORKSHOP (see the Rough Draft step): For this class, bring 2 typed copies (one to turn in to me) of your working thesis as well as the three body paragraphs of your draft. The workshop will help to assess how well you are integrating quotations, citing information, and showing relationships between sources (synthesis), and whether your thesis is helping to focus the material. In this workshop you will also brainstorm introductory paragraph ideas and plot the rest of the paper.
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