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Paper #4: Social Research Essay

To successfully complete this assignment you must first accomplish three separate things: first, read chapters seventeen and twenty-one in Successful College Writing; second, determine a text from which you will extract a research question. You  may choose the novel, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone or any of The Dresden Files works or view the film, Harry Potter's and the Sorcerer's Stone, view an episode of The Dresden Files,  or choose any of the Fading Lands  texts by C. L. Wilson. Your assignment for this paper is to hypothesize about some real world issue, as prompted to or inspired by it from the fiction, and then to find an answer that will either confirm or refute that hypothesis. You will use surveys, interviews, and observations as your primary to support your research question, and you might also use other research as tertiary support.   

Your paper will be evaluated upon your research methods--whether your survey questions logically address the hypothesis, whether interviews are with credible people who have experience with the subject of your question, etc.. Whether your initial hypothesis is found to be correct or not does not matter. What matters is how you arrive at your conclusion.

For this paper, you want to limit your focus to a topic narrow enough to be addressed in three to four pages.  You may quote from a book or film to get into the issue and to explain why the issue is important, but, again, the important support to address the hypothesis must be obtained through field research.   You might ask a question about appearances, genetics, or racism, as in Harry Potter's world, people are treated differently based on their origins. You might ask a question about religion and magic, as some people see magic as powered by supernatural rather than natural sources. Finally, you might come up with a question that addresses differences between a book and its film version; however, keep in mind that you may reduce the pool of potential surveyees with such a question, as you might need people who have both read the book and seen the film.

You will reveal your hypothesis and its conclusion in your introduction. The next section of your paper should detail your research methods. Then you should explain your research findings, and finally detail those results to come to your conclusion. At the end of your paper, just prior to your Works Cited, you will include an appendix of survey questions and/or interview questions. You will not turn in the actual survey and interview results or responses, although you may certainly quote from them to illustrate opinions in your paper. You should save those materials so that if any questions arise, you can show your data to address them.  After you've  compiled you paper, make sure you proofread. Likewise, you may still have your essay read by a reader in the Writing Center on campus, but if you do so, as always, make sure you bring in a copy of this assignment sheet with your draft and remember that the lab requires a 48 hour turn around time, so plan ahead.  As always, having your paper at the lab is not a valid excuse for attempting to turn it in late.  

The main difficulties you may have in this paper will be in narrowing your focus enough and in generating a non-biased survey instrument to collect data. 

Format: This essay should be double-spaced, laser-printed, carefully edited and proofread, and stapled before you turn it in. You should have a heading with your name, my name, the course title and section number, and date on it. You must give the paper number and the title a line of their own, and your last name and the page number should appear at the top right of each page, after your first page. This paper should be three to four pages in length with one-inch margins, not including the Work or Works Cited page. 

Check your syllabus for the paper's due date, remembering that it will be due in advance of that date for Peer Review.

Potential Paper Topics

      Racism is/is not an inherent part of American society.

      Fantasy worlds are/are not subject to real religious criticisms.

      Harry Potter books teach too many people that money is more important than friendship or learning.


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