Fan Cultures Assignment #3: Research Proposal


Research Proposal

Your task is to propose a research question for your final paper and identify the types of sources that you think you will use to answer this question. (1-2 pages)


Please make sure you read the handouts for Assignments Four and Five before you write your proposal. You will need this information as you are thinking about your paper.

Although it’s possible to change your topic by the time that you write your research paper, please consider carefully and write a proposal that you are truly interested in pursuing.  Your final paper will be better if you think through some of the broader issues that you want to address now.  I can also provide much better guidance and advice if you give me a well-considered proposal and carry it through to your final paper.

Your question may be about either a product of popular culture of which you are or aspire to be a fan or the community that surrounds it.

Your question should approach your cultural product from a historical, social, literary or legal point of view. Be sure to define this point of view and explain why you think it is important. Examples will be provided in class.

A good research question has several characteristics:

  • You do not already know the answer.
  • It is neither too broad (“Why are people fans?”) nor too narrow (“Which character was the most popular to cosplay at Comicon 2012?”)
  • It is a question about which people may make contradictory yet compelling claims. That is, it is not a question with a simple, factual answer (“Which Doctor traveled with the most companions?”) nor a mere matter of opinion (“Which Doctor is the best?”).
  • It provides you with an opportunity to engage with the sources you are using.  One way to find a good research question is to think about how you respond to the articles we’ve already read. Was there anything you found intriguing, or needed to support with further evidence, or that raised more questions in your mind?

When you are identifying the types of sources that you want to use to answer your question, remember what we have already learned about the uses of different sources.  You may refer to general types of sources (encyclopedia articles, biographies, etc), but be specific if possible (that is: “surveys” not “journal articles”).  Also specify how you expect these sources to assist you in answering your research question.

If you are not sure whether you will find sufficient material on your question, try a few quick database searches.  If you don’t find anything—adjust your question.

Audience: More than for any other assignment in this class, your audience is me. However, you are also your audience. That is, when you are researching and writing your paper, you can refer back to this proposal to remind yourself what you are trying to say. This is a simple writing trick that I use extensively and strongly recommend.

Pre-Draft Writing Assignments: Article evaluations, blogs, research narratives

Writing Lessons: Posing and narrowing a research question

Sources: Some questions we will use as models in class, and everything we have read up to this point.

Posted in Present research within conventions of a particular genre

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