1. How to find articles
The following is a refresher on research:
You may do some research on Google for this essay, and you may find Wikipedia useful for gathering background information (we will discuss the benefits and disadvantages of this kind of research in class). You could also plug some relevant search terms into the box and see what comes up at nytimes.com – often a good way to find out how this topic is being discussed by and for the public at larger.
Before you start, identify some search terms for aspects of your topic you want to understand better. To be clear, early in the process you may not have a clear idea of what search terms you should use. Start out with general ones related to the chosen innovation. Remember, if your innovation is a multi-word phrase, put it in quotation marks (“flying cars,” “faux vintage photo,” “barbed wire”); check our Guide, home page, bottom right-hand corner, for additional search term pointers. To explore contexts that you think might be interesting, either search words or phrases naming contexts (e.g. nostalgia, war, “space race”) and/or combine the term(s) that name your innovation with terms that name contexts using Advanced Search (“faux vintage photo” AND nostalgia; “barbed wire” AND war; “flying cars” AND “space race”).
The research process should continue as you learn more about the innovation and its relevant contexts. Research will open up more research. The more you read and research, the more search terms you will discover, which will lead you to different sources. Start the process of using research to open up more research as early as possible.
2. What to do when you find them
Skim article titles, abstracts, and beginnings until you are able to identify a handful of articles that will help you understand something new about your innovation and some contexts connected to it. Go through the cycle a few times: find promising articles, read them, and see what new search terms or aspects of the issue they point you to, then do more research. Your bibliography should expand as an index of your growing understanding of the innovation and the contexts it is connected to; you should not be arbitrarily accumulating a certain number of articles in order to meet a quota (if you do that, the results will be poor).
3. What you need to submit:
I. An Annotated Bibliography featuring five or more sources encountered in the course of your research that have helped you understand your innovation and/or some contexts relevant to it. This is not a final selection of sources: you may end up keeping some and getting rid of others.
Note: these may be sources about your innovation and sources about its relevant contexts. For example, let’s say my chosen innovation is genetically modified corn. I might have three articles about the science, history, and politics of GMO corn itself, but two or three more articles on subjects such as US-Mexico relations, NAFTA, the general cultural significance of corn, and so on (all of these are contexts).
Each entry should consist of:
*An MLA-formatted citation for the article.
*A 1-2 paragraph representation of the article that explains: 1) What does it argue, and/or what information does it convey? 2) What kind of an article is it? (e.g. encyclopedia, news, scholarly/scientific, editorial/opinion); 2) What kind of audience (e.g. general public, specialized disciplinary, scientific) does it seem to be written for, and how do you know?; 3) What is the purpose of the article – what did the author hope to accomplish by writing it?; 4) What have you learned from reading it that you hadn’t previously realized, and what purpose might it serve in your essay? (If the answer to 4 is “nothing,” the article should not be here.)
Please do not write out the numbers of the questions listed above, then answer them. Put on display your ability to write a coherent paragraph that answers the questions, but could also stand alone.
II. A 2-3 paragraph Literature Review explaining the overall “discourse” about your innovation.
*Give a general overview of the themes and issues raised in discussions of your innovation. What are the most common ideas, beliefs, and assumptions about your innovation? What questions, problems, and issues tend to come up most frequently in relation to your innovation? What seems to dominate the discussion? You may refer here to material that you read, but that isn’t among the sources listed above.
*Explain what you think may be missing from the discussion, and what you think is not taken sufficiently into account. What is wrong or incomplete about the standard views or assumptions on this topic? This is where you might introduce the contexts that you think will help illuminate the innovation’s meaning.
*Explain how you intend to offer an alternative perspective on the innovation, and which sources in particular will help you do so. Please not that in the essay, you will be required to use at leas two general “Idea About Innovation” sources (usually assigned texts such as Johnson, Gladwell, Graeber, etc.). This would be a good moment to introduce the “Idea About Innovation” sources that you plan to apply to this topic, and what you think can be gained from this application. How will you make your readers think differently about the topic? How will you go beyond the existing sources, and offer a new, more revealing perspective?