Writing & Library Research Methods Assignment #3: Research proposal

Your task is to propose an interpretive question having to do with A Midsummer Night’s Dream or an adaptation of it. Later in the semester, you will answer this question in your research paper.  For now, identify both 1) the types of sources you think might be useful in answering your question and 2) the text(s) about which you want to write. Explain why you think this question is important and how you will use your paper to answer it.  Your topic may be based upon one of your earlier papers or blog posts.  (1-2 pages)


Please make sure you read the handouts for the annotated bibliography and the research paper 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.

If you want to use one of your earlier papers as a basis for this one, please use your proposal to explain how you plan to extend and revise it.

A good research question has several characteristics:

  • You do not already know the answer. If you think you know the answer, ask yourself what further questions this allows you to ask.
  • It is neither too broad nor too narrow.
  • It is a question about which people may make contradictory yet compelling claims. Steer clear of questions with clearly factual answers and matters of mere opinion.
  • It provides you with an opportunity to engage with the sources you are using. Think about the way that you outlined the debate in your critical survey.  Can you imagine inserting your own arguments into that debate? Think, also about the many questions we’ve asked throughout this class. 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.

If you wish, you may include questions about research in your proposals.

Audience:  Your later self (when writing the paper), me

Pre-Draft Writing Assignments: All prior assignments, research narratives

Writing Lessons: Posing interpretive questions with an appropriate scope for a research paper, identifying appropriate source types, planning a paper

Sources: A primary text (or maybe more than one), and possibly the student’s own work

Posted in Present research within conventions of a particular genre

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