Skip to Main Content

English 1C - Gott, Brian: Assignments

LibGuide for English

English 1C



Research and write a paper on 

Free Speech on Campus



Assignment 1

Psychological Harm and Free Speech on Campus by Andrew Jason Cohen.DOI: 10.1007/s12115-017-0145-6


The pathology of torture

Pollanen, Michael S.

•Autopsies must be conducted on people who die in custody.•Autopsies are rarely performed on torture cases because of disposal of the bodies...

SUGGESTIONS : Note Research Paper

NOTE: You must choose a topic/question that is CONTROVERSIAL—about which there are different and opposing views, as part of your job will be to figure out where you stand in relation to those views.  It must be a topic of some social consequence, even if it has a personal dimension for you.  Also, questions should ideally be open-ended (beginning How? or Why?), rather than one that can be answered yes/no.

The other MAIN REQUIREMENTS for the paper are that you use a minimum of FIVE sources, primarily accessed through the library (databases, books, films):

  • at least ONE of these must be a peer-reviewed or scholarly source, and
  • at least ONE must express a view contrary to your own.  You must also
  • use at least THREE DIFFERENT TYPES of sources (e.g. book, government publication, newspaper article, scholarly journal article, advocacy organization’s website, documentary film, personal interview).  E.g. CQ Researcher articles are a good starting point for your research, but you should only have one of this TYPE of article—two at most. 

  • Extra credit option is to include an interview or survey that you conduct yourself.  This is more challenging to do under COVID conditions but not impossible. Talking to people who have some experience or expertise in the area you are exploring will make the research project come alive for you!  I will provide a separate handout explaining how to prepare for and conduct interviews/surveys.

In addition, you must use correct MLA documentation format throughout the paper, including BOTH in-text citations AND a separate Works Cited page at the conclusion of your paper.  You must cite all sources, INCLUDING ANY CHARTS OR ILLUSTRATIONS, you might use.  You will do brief (2-3 min.) presentations of your work to the class at the outline stage as well as when you hand in the final draft.

Our library

library window





Assignment Suggestions

Additional info for Research Paper

Proposal should be one half to one page long (double spaced), written in complete sentences (paragraph style), and should include:

  • your QUESTION (previously cleared with me)
  • a statement of why this topic interests you,  and
  • why it is important for others to consider as well, and a
  • preliminary response to your question—that is, what you think the answer(s) is/are BEFORE you begin your research—including what you know about supporting AND opposing views
  • DEFINITIONS of essential terms—e.g. if your question is “Why are there so few Ethnic Studies classes taught in high school?” you must define what an Ethnic Studies class is.  Use common sense: no need to define obvious terms.
  • Indication of the SCALE of the problem and its current status. How long has it been going on?  How many people does it affect?  You will need to do some PRELIMINARY RESEARCH to answer this question with real and reliable figures!

Both your QUESTION and your PROPOSAL must reflect where your issue stands right now.  You are not being asked to engage in a moral debate—for example is the death penalty (or abortion or euthanasia) good or bad?  If you are interested in the death penalty, you can pose a question about why it has been banned (or is still conducted) in particular states. You must learn what the current status of the issue is. For example, a suggested topic from an older textbook is now out of date as the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for gay and lesbian service members has been repealed.  The Proposal should be a working document, both a plan and a beginning of your research, not just a half-baked idea.  In order to get it to this point, communicate with me and use the library resources you’ll be introduced to this week.  The more refined and specific your Proposal is, the easier the next stages of writing will be!  CQ Researcher is a good source to start with for overviews of topics, histories/timelines, and basic statistics.

NOTE: If you are planning to do the extra credit interview or survey, please identify in the proposal whom you will interview or survey and what special insight you expect to gain from this.


  • Begin with a full citation in proper MLA format, using “hanging indent” paragraph form.  NOTE: Although many programs provide ready-made citations now, you should check them for correctness against the sample citations from our MLA Citations Guides module.
  • Follow the MLA citation with a 75-100 word summary of the source, including
    • A brief statement of what the source is about overall, and which part(s) are most interesting and useful to you.
    • an evaluation of the author’s/publication’s credentials and potential bias (this may include an evaluation of his/her evidence and/or arguments pro and con), and
    • a statement of how you will use this source in your paper.


MODEL RESEARCH PAPERS—including Proposals, Annotated Works Cited, and Sentence Outlines--ARE POSTED under the Research Paper module on Canvas. 

NOTE: You will not receive credit for your research paper unless all of the preliminary stages have been completed by the required due dates.  Regardless of your grades for other class assignments, you will receive an ‘F’ in this course if you do not complete this assignment, which is required of all English 1A students in the EVC English Department.

If you are writing—or have written—a research paper for another class and want to try to use that topic for this research paper too, please come talk to me about this.  You cannot use exactly the same paper for two classes—this is a violation of the standards of academic integrity.  But there MAY be ways you can develop your research in two complementary directions for the two classes.  The important things are to be honest about this and to be sure you understand and address the differences in how the two instructors’ assignments are designed.

“I-search” option:

Writing teacher Ken Macrorie came up with the concept of an "I-search" paper to help students research and write in a more engaged way.  Modifying the concept of re-search, which may have connotations of finding what is already there (re=back or again; chercher=to search), “I-search” asks you to direct your investigation according to what you as a scholar want to find out about your subject, and reminds you that you are the one evaluating those sources’ interest and validity.  You are not merely gathering and assembling information, nor trying to prove something that other people already know; you are trying to discover some truths of your own.

To reinforce the personal dimension of the research, the “I-search” paper asks you to articulate within the paper itself what your relationship to your topic is, exploring analytically what about your subject resonates with your life experience--even if that resonance is a sense of unfamiliarity or antagonism.  Beginning your final paper with an explanation of your "interest" in it will help focus your presentation of your research findings, keep you from getting lost in the masses of information now available about so many topics, and, I hope, help you write a livelier paper.