Finding a Topic for Your Annotated Bibliography and Argument Essay

hi students as I always say I’m going to try to make this PowerPoint or lecture as brief as possible and try to get some information across to you that I think will be helpful so one of the things that I want to cover on are two of the things I guess is how to find a topic and narrow it to a research question and then the broader perspective of once you get that research question what do you do with it what is the process going forward so I wanted to start with this brief clip I’m gonna have to close this window and open another one this is Pete Holmes he was a comedian many years ago I mean he still is a comedian but the clip I’m going to show you is from Conan many years ago and I think it’s a great way to start off because he is I think but one of the things that we that students tend to do sometimes with research topics is to grab the topic that they think is easiest and then run for google and google it madly and pick sources that just support their point of view but Pete Holmes kind of has his own ideas about how reliant we’ve become on Google and what this is done to us as a culture so I think it’s kind of a fun place to start from so I’m going to play the last couple minutes of this clip and then we can go on from there the joke is doing it as long as I can that’s so I have an i telephone I have an I telephone thank you which means I have Google on my phone I’m guessing a lot of you do have Google on my phone now that’s ruining our lives I don’t know if you’ve noticed it’s ruining life because we know everything but we’re not a lick smarter for it we just know you don’t know something wait two seconds you will know having Google on your phone is like having a drunk know-it-all in your pocket there’s no time for mystery or wonder you’re just like how do they make glass and you know but the time between not knowing and knowing is so brief that knowing feels exactly like not knowing so life is meaningless I’ve literally been in bed in the morning alone just like where’s Tom Petty from I feel nothing is there was no time to not know listen to me there was a time and I don’t mean to get all Andy Rooney Anya but there was a time that if you didn’t know where Tom Petty was from you just didn’t know and you felt that yearning and that deficit in your being and you’d go around and ask actual people impregnated with wonder and then they’d go and ask people until one fateful day you see a girl wearing a Heartbreakers t-shirt you rush up to her and you’re like hey where’s Tom Petty from and she tells you Florida and a wave of endorphins and pleasure and meaning would wash over you and you felt something and that’s how you met your wife do you understand your wedding song was refugee the biz laughs thank you very much everybody so I hope you go well tickle out of him what I think or how I think this pertains to us is that I’m trying to get you to come up with a research question and hopefully this research question is something that’s interesting to you that you feel impregnated by wonder when you think of it and that it drives your curiosity when you’re researching it’s not a question that you come up with because you think it will be just easy to research or you feel like you already know the answer to and it’ll be you can find sources – I understand that all that is helpful right we don’t want to pick difficult questions where we’re going to be struggling to find sources and need help that’s not a fun place to be in when your grade is on the line and you’ve got deadlines but at the same time choose a topic that is interesting to you that makes you wonder and don’t just do one-stop shopping on Google the purpose of this assignment is to investigate multiple points of view and to ask questions and to become curious about this topic so one way in which we kind of narrow the focus of your research and help you to discern what it is you’re going to research and write about is with a research question so this is different from just coming up with a topic right a topic might be something like illegal immigration the war in Afghanistan medical marijuana euthanasia those are topics and you can research them but often there is so much information on those topics that you can find just tons of information you can find the history of euthanasia you can find one person’s story about seeking assisted suicide you can find the actual process of euthanasia and what goes on and that’s all valuable information but sometimes that can mean that you’re floundering from source to source not really sure what it is you’re looking for whereas a research question controls and drives your research so if your research question is something like is euthanasia ethical or is animal testing ethical then you are looking for sources that speak to that specific question and yes you may want to find those sources that talk about the history of animal testing or what is entailed what companies do it those kind of things but you know that you also want to find sources that talk about the ethics of it specifically who believes it’s ethical and why who believes it’s not ethical and why not and so that helps give you focus and eventually because you are going to have to write a paper on it that focus is going to help drive your thesis so it helps you figure out where am I going to actually you know what’s the purpose of my paper it’s going to be to answer the research question that you present or that you come up with in this assignment now that may change I do want to say that up front – that the research process is meant to be a dynamic process and it’s not unheard of or even unusual for you to start off with a research topic and for it to morph into something else now I not something completely different usually so you don’t start off with the question of something like you know should prostitution be legal in America end up with you know should recreational marijuana be legalized usually that’s not as extreme of a difference that you end up with but sometimes students start researching a question something like you know what is technology is social media harmful to students education or something like that and they find that that’s really too broad and that most of the sources that they’re looking up don’t really focus on that that a lot of them focus on you know how technology affects communication specifically not necessarily education or how it affects relationships and communication not just communication in general and so you’re gonna there is an element of being open to where the research takes you and that’s a little bit of a scary place to be again especially when like I said your grade is on the line and there are deadlines but I just want to let you know that it’s okay to be there and it’s okay to embrace that mystery a little bit as you’re being curious but we’re hopefully going to find you a good research question that’s why I asked for you to submit to because if one doesn’t work out you’ve got the other one in your back pocket so please try to make your research questions different enough that you know not really on the same topic so that if one is not workable because it doesn’t meet our parameters that we can go automatically to the next one and you don’t have to go back to the drawing board and then we start corresponding and emailing and you get behind so this is an example of how you might narrow a topic from a topic to a research question so maybe you’re interested in researching a little illegal immigration that’s been in the wind for many years right and when Trump was elected especially this has been a hot topic should be built a wall should we you know ban people from certain countries should we crackdown on employers who employ illegal immigrants like what is should we just deport people even if they have children here and their parents what is the best way to deal with illegal immigration and so there are variations on this should illegal immigrants be deported should some illegal immigrants be offered a pathway to citizenship is Amnesty ethical you may not be familiar with that term but if you are researching that comes up a lot this idea of giving illegal immigrants a pathway to citizenship such as you know they have to come forward they have to pay back taxes they have to go through the immigration process they may have to serve some community service and become American citizens so some people say that’s the best way to deal with the approximately 12 million undocumented citizens who are here other people say that’s amnesty that’s giving someone a free pass when they don’t deserve it they’ve broken the law what should be done to stem illegal immigration so you can tell that that’s a very different question than is Amnesty ethical so you’re going to be looking at different sources they’ll probably have some overlap in them they probably both will talk about each other but you’re going to want a different focus for your sources depending on your research question and should illegal immigrants be offered in state college tuition or have access to Pell grants and federal money for college again very different than being deported both these questions might have to have sources that talk about being deported and talk about you know college education and the DREAM Act and things like that but there you want to make sure that your research question that you’re finding sources that deal with that particular question especially in some issues that are very broad to begin with like illegal immigration or technology or education these are very big terms so how do we narrow their focus so the parameters of your research question to this it should be interesting to you that kind of goes with the Pete Holmes video that I showed you I do want it to be something that appeals to you and I feel like there are so many different topics in so many different fields out there that are debatable that you should be able to find something if you have any interests now I have encountered a few students in my time who through much consultation I cannot find anything in this world that they are interested in and if that applies to you then you might have to fake it till you make it but most students even if it’s something they think is non-academic like football or rap music or or marijuana then we can still find something out there that you can research and that is debatable so you do want to make sure that you have a debatable topic so sometimes students come up with topics and it’s hard for us to find a debatable angle they’re like well I’m really interested in sleep deprivation and I’m like okay so we can google that I mean we could try to see if there’s any debate about like the effects of sleep deprivation or you know what comes of sleep deprivation or something like that we can try but sometimes there are some topics that there’s just not a lot of debate about or they phrase their research question in a way that’s not debatable such as how to smoking affect people’s health well there’s not much debate about that most authorities agree that smoking affects people’s health negatively and in particular they have the consequences of things like emphysema lung disease and cancer similarly some people think there are debatable topics that are really not debatable when it comes to authorities even though in popular culture they are debated on things like the view or dr. Phil or something like that for instance one of the ones that students often seem interested in is you know do vaccines cause autism well authorities and studies have shown that they do not there is no significant statistical evidence to show that there is a link between vaccines and autism now this rumor or this conspiracy-theory depending I guess on how distrustful you are of authority what you want to call it it does persist and it is widely found on the internet on blogs and a lot of different communities however we’re going to be researching what authorities say and authorities are the people who have credentials in a given area and terminal credentials that sounds bad terminal credentials may really usually mean the highest you can go in a given area maybe it’s a PhD or an EDD or something like that but that’s they have a terminal degree in that field and or they have experienced a lot of experience in that field so they have their doctors their nurses their people researchers scientists chemists biologists people on the front lines who have been studying this issue so it’s debatable it has to be politically or socially significant so it can’t be just a matter of preference or something like like what’s the better party school you f or FSU you know yeah that may be debatable may even be researchable may be interesting to you but it’s probably not politically or socially significant I’m pretty good at trying to find something related I think for most students if they came to me that question I’d say well why don’t we take an issue that affects students who maybe party too much you know such as binge drinking has been shrinking a problem on college campuses or or what are the effects of you know drinking too much or maybe researching with something like should campuses do more to combat sexual harassment or sexual assaults those kind of things so trying to find a political or social angle to research and finally researchable which probably makes sense and this does speak to what I was saying before is that you want something where you can find sources you don’t want a research question that maybe is politically or socially significant and debatable and interesting to you but there’s just not enough sources for our particular assignment out there so that’s where the assignment comes into play because you do need at least 10 sources to begin with and certain kinds of sources you do need library sources and some of these may not be as viable so like what are the effects of the war in Syria I mean now it has been going on quite a while but it’s still going on so I don’t know if we can necessarily make an argument about the effects of the war on Syria when it’s not resolved right now or something that’s too small or narrow like should Clermont build a shopping village at Plaza Kalina this was before they built all the Chevy dealerships and Mazda dealerships and we became a purchase a car on highway 50 row can you tell that I’m not pleased with all that anyway that would be hard to research given that we have to go through the library databases and find certain types of sources could we find sources on the internet probably maybe even 10 about that because it’s the internet it’s wonderful has so much stuff but I don’t think we could find the kinds of sources we need for that question but something like is standardized testing and effective method of assessment we could find we could definitely find 10 sources we can find some Pro we could find some con we could find some of the databases find some of the internet so that meets our assignment needs and it is researchable so where can you find these topics well you can start off by brainstorming just looking at your own life and trying to think about you know what you’re interested in and what you might want to research that’s one way to think about things so you know I am a mom I am some Floridian I am an English teacher so I’m really interested in questions that might deal with children’s education you know like are charter schools better than public education might be a question that I would be interested in because my children attend public school I might also be interested in something like is technology harmful to student literacy because I’m a big reader and I’ve heard rumors and I’ve wondered about how you know how distracting and how we live in a culture now that really it becomes hard to be a reader it becomes hard to quiet your mind enough to spend those hours reading alone with a book all our social media is kind of built around the opposite of being alone with a book and so how does that affect our literacy skills you can also go to certain websites so like this one pro con org I’ll take you there in a second and there are a couple databases that are useful also if you have a favorite news website especially the opinion pages can be useful or are LSSC library website you can ask a librarian to help you so I’m gonna go quickly to a few of these and I’m not gonna spend a lot of time browsing because I’ve already been more to lengthy than I like to be so news websites you can go to like a well-known news website like the New York Times and a great place to go when you get on these websites is maybe something like have you scrolled down a lot of them have like the most emailed or the most viewed this is recommended for me because I go here a lot and so they trace what I click on a little creepy but it’s also kind of cool so I can look at things like Oh op-ed op-ed means like opinion editorials so that’s good that that has to deal with it has to deal with opinionated writings and so with argument that’s what we’re looking at and again I’m not going to go into these articles but Confederate statues in our history right so one of the things that’s been debated widely lately has been because of the march in Virginia has been the idea of should we take down Confederate statues or replace Confederate names on buildings and schools there is this history there that many people think is tainted and it deals with the idea of kind of going back to the debate that’s been around for a while which is is the Confederate flag a symbol of heritage or hate and you’ll find debate on both sides they’re trying to think if there’s any thing else there that looks exciting but um but yeah you can click around you don’t have to necessarily just go to the most emailed or the most viewed you can go to the op-ed page here in The New York Times and scout around for what people are writing about and see if anything interests you and you don’t have to just go to opinion you know you can go to tech or wherever interest you and see but this this tends to be a good place to see what people are debating about and you can read things that are interesting to you I clicked on this for a while the what does America stand for we asked teenagers because I thought that might be interesting to many of our students who are teenagers but and again I’m not going to go through all of these but you can look through them and see if anything piques your interest and if it does then you want to try to turn it into a research question and we’ll get to that formatting in a little bit I don’t want to spend too long here so that’s New York Times you can go to you know HuffPost NPR Fox News whatever interests you if you have a particular major or an area you’re interested in there’s usually a magazine to go with it so like if you’re a psychology major there’s Psychology Today if you’re a nursing major there are nursing magazines and a lot of times you can go in there and try to see is there anything that’s debatable that might be interesting to me so you know maybe something like something before what did I see and now I don’t know I’m sorry but I was looking at something oh I think it there was an article somewhere when I was browsing around here that was just talking about whether or not the long shifts that are typical of nursing and nurses and doctors are helpful or harmful to patients so that might be a debate and I’ve had a lot of students in the Health Sciences come up with some great topics really specific ones about whether or not ob/gyn doctors are recommending too many c-sections or whether you know doctors are delivering premature babies and neonatal too early I don’t it just I mean they’ve really gotten involved with them and I feel like I’ve learned a lot about the health sciences and nursing in particular because of all our nursing or pre-nursing students so it’s great to see students who take an interest in something and then they research it and I learn along with them as they’re researching so you know finding a trade magazine or a website that deals with your particular major as you’re going through is good too it’s a good way pro/con is a good website to scout around on so pro con org if you click on that that’s got all these different controversial issues that you can click on and the wonderful thing about this I think is is that it really breaks it down in an easy-to-understand way so like let’s click on minimum wage should the minimum wage be increased so it gives you a research question and then it even gives you kind of a brief summary of what the major reasons for and against or yes and no to the question are and it really helps to give you like a quick synopsis that you can say wow if I mentor reading about this topic based on this webpage that I’m probably going to be able to use this from my topic but if you get bored just reading half this page then this is probably not the topic for you one other two other places that should be useful to you and again you can always come back if I’m going too fast it are to library databases actually I’m going to start with just one so you click on libraries click on databases go to oh and scroll down there’s a database called opposing viewpoints in context prompts you to put in your borrower ID which is your X ID and your pin password which is your six digit birthdate and you should be able to do this from home any time of the day is to get in here and this database specializes in debatable issues so it kind of like pro/con it has them divided into categories where you can just click around if something interests you or you can just always go to browse issues and it’ll give you like a laundry list of issues you can click on please stop this and so you can click around there if something interests you and say oh I want to find something controversial there as you’re looking you know just be mindful because some of these are dated and updated means good it probably means there’s something more recent that has gone on in this issue whereas other ones there might be a your sources just might not be timely it might not be something that has had a lot of traction recently so if you remember our resources and argument we talked about Kairos that there’s a time to bring up arguments so if nothing has happened recently it may not be for you so if I like say oh I’m interested in police brutality and I type in that a lot of times it will give you some prompts there I forget what that’s called when they generate those terms for you to look at so even if you type in just an idea there you’re not sure and you don’t want to browse this way that can help you think about where you want to go so let’s say I click on police brutality this gives me an overview of it and then in these viewpoints sections I get different viewpoints I get you know pro and con yes and no different opinionated pieces on this and so these are your sources you can start collecting sources right away as you’re going through your issue if this appeals to you so opposing viewpoints starts with an O in the databases is a great way to find a topic find a research question as you’re going through like I said magazines websites that interest you are another good way to find topics once you have a topic in mind please do if you’re unsure if it’s controversial take it out for some exploratory research before you submit your questions to me because then I have to do that exploratory research if if I’m not sure and a lot of times I have to vet these questions and I will and I’ll try to help you form a question and sometimes I know right off the bat because I’ve been teaching comp argument for about 15 years tell us so you know I’m pretty well-versed and what is debatable and what’s not however the world changes and I’m not an expert in every field so I’ve had students come up with questions about farming or hybrid technology or cloning where I’m not very well-versed I don’t read the news in those areas typically unless there’s something major and so I need to go in there and and take it out for our test bin but please make sure you do that before you submit it so that we both can know is this a workable topic and how you do that is just easily you can go to google and type in keywords to say am I getting sources back do the sources seem reputable or credible not just like random blogs on the Internet and like I’m going to be able to find sources that are both pro and con on my issue as I go forth if your topics adhere to all the criteria you do want to compose a research question and I’ve tried to oops give you these templates here that might help you a lot of questions are questions of policy or legality should something be legalized should something be instituted so it should a policy be changed or altered or added or removed that’s one template for a question another thing is if there’s a specific problem sometimes people debate how to resolve that problem or how to combat that problem so what should be done about illegal immigration what should be done about binge drinking what should be done about assault on college campuses what should be done about you know insert prom social problem is blank ethical so a lot of times there are questions of not whether something should be legal or not although that might be the question and then we could discuss whether it’s ethical within that so sometimes the question you know should euthanasia be legal within that we would talk about the ethical ramifications of it or should animal testing be legal well we’re gonna talk about the legality but we’ll also talk about the ethics so sometimes whether or not something should be legal is a better question than whether it should be ethical but sometimes this is narrow enough to give you room to argue and the students often like to go more broad instead of more narrow thinking that will help them find sources and meet the page count and I think it does help them find sources but I don’t necessarily think it helps them find the Peet meet the page count because then they’re confused when it comes time to write and they feel like they don’t know what direction to go in because they have so much information that it becomes difficult to narrow their thesis and make a specific argument is something really a problem so sometimes there are arguments about whether or not something is an issue or whether or not should be changed what’s the best way to deal with something their arguments about whether something is effective and whether or not something causes something else so you know does I keep defaulting to a little legal immigration but I do know a lot about that topic and it seems like most people do so it’s easy to talk about you know does illegal immigration cause terrorism or does illegal immigration cause you know US debt or something like that might be a question to ask there are also questions about definitions you know what does something mean so the one I always I’m interested in is you know what does it mean to be a feminist there are people who who don’t like the word women who don’t like the word they think it means man-hating and angry and ugly shoe wearing and then there are other people who embrace it who think everybody should be a feminist in fact I have a t-shirt that says we should all be feminists because I believe it means equality which is something I think everybody should want but things can get sticky too there and there’s been arguments about a many a pop culture person like Beyonce or even Miley Cyrus where people argue you know is this person a feminist are they fighting for women’s rights or are they undercutting women’s rights with the way they dress so the way they act or the songs they sing or something like that I’m not going to play this video because I think my video is getting rather long now but one of my questions that I always find interesting and is still relevant and I think about every time I go to the grocery store is this idea of is factory farming harmful you know should we embrace more organic farming or sure more people become vegetarians those are all kind of sub questions of is factory for harmful and if you do have time and are interested in you should go to the meatrix comm and watch the video because it’s really funny and cute and informative and interesting and all kinds of good stuff but I’m not going to do it here because I did want to move on to just talking about the process of the annotated bibliography so once you have an approved research question you start collecting sources and I’ll have a video on how to find sources in the library databases you want to evaluate sources as you go so in the library databases that’s not such a big deal those sources are already vetted for you the librarians and the people that create those databases make sure that they’re credible and reliable but if you’re on Google and you’re using internet sources that’s definitely something to be on the lookout for is saying dude can I tell who the author is can I tell do I know anything about the publication are there posting dates on here so I know when this was submitted are there has this person research is there a works cited page or a bibliography or something keep track of your sources I know this seems easy to do maybe it doesn’t seem easy to do but for me sometimes it does and I think oh I’m not going to need that source I read I read it and I think it’s not going to be what I want and so I closed that browser window or I lose it and then later on I feel like oh where where was that statistic about you know how many animals died per year you know because of pollution or whatever it is and I’m like where did I read that I know I read that somewhere and I’m googling and I’m trying to refine that source and and it gets lost so if you think you have a useful source there are different ways to keep track of them you can email links to yourself I’ve done that before you can bookmark them I’ve taken the emailing links because my bookmarks page is like so full that sometimes the get lost when I bookmark them you can start a file where you copy and paste the documents you know the articles themselves all into a Word document you know just ctrl a ctrl c ctrl b so that you know you have at all somewhere whatever works for you I would say just find a method of tracking and please use it and then as you begin to collect and read your sources you want to analyze them so you know take notes or highlight or however you can keep track of them on things like what type of source is it is it popular or scholarly who is the author so you might need to google the author or click on their name and find out more about them what credentials do they have or experience on your topic what is the main idea or claim of the source so maybe copy and paste it and write main idea or claim or put it in your own words as you’re reading it which is even better support what support what reasons and evidence do they give for their main idea or claim what assumptions do they make and then finally this says figure out how you relate to the source it might use it but really I’ve articulated that a little bit differently in the assignment which is how do you respond to the source so are you disturbed by anything in it are you pleased are you confused do you want to learn more just asking for your response there and I think this other slide I wanted to show you or a couple slides is about the same I just want to make sure my memory serves me here so the process of the annotated bibliography is to find a topic compose to research questions and submit them at which point I will approve one at least find the necessary sources that are listed in your annotated bibliography read and analyze those sources so analyzing them for the required criteria or characteristics that are listed in that last slide I showed you in and your assignment create citations for those sources and I show you how to do that in another video create annotations for those sources so that’s the paragraph beneath submit a rough draft of your annotated bibliography where you get peer feedback and my feedback and then turn in the final draft of your annotated bibliography from there we’ll go on to the next assignment the research argument which will be on the same topic but that will be where you take a stance on it so I hope this video has been informative and not too too long and please reach out if you have any questions

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