ENG 1101 Research Project

Part 1: Research Proposal

  • W 11/12: First draft due (post to blog)
  • M 11/17: Second draft due (post to blog & bring four printed copies to class)
  • Tu 12/2: Final Draft due Research Proposal + 6 Annotated Sources (bring “portfolio” folder to class and e-mail file of Final Draft–as one document–to Professor Belli, labelled as: Jill Belli, Proposal and Annotated Bibliography, Final Draft)

How do I narrow down my topic?

  • Make sure to pick a research question that appeals to you on a personal level (a topic that you want to learn more about), is important/relevant in the larger social context, and is broadly related to the themes of the course (technology, digital identities, networked lives, etc.).
  • Although you may choose a common research topic (such the relationship between happiness and fame, the role of well-being in the military, or well-being in children) you should not simply explore typical aspects of this topic: make sure to create a new/interesting entry point into what may be an over-discussed topic.

For this phase of the assignment, your goal is to be as specific as possible.  As discussed in class, don’t just write, “I want to work on why married people are happier than single people” or “My topic is happiness and music.”  Your task in the early draft of the research proposal is to try to focus your topic and to consider what the important issues involved with it are.  Therefore, your ideas should be in paragraph form (at least two full paragraphs) and should consider the following issues:

  • Why does this topic interest you?  Why does/should this topic interest others?
  • What kinds of sources will you use in your project?
  • How can you focus/narrow down your topic so that it is manageable in this short-term, short (in length) research project?  Remember, you don’t want your topic to be too broad or general … isolate just one variable (focus is very important).  What kinds of questions do you hope to address through your research?  What, specifically, do you want to learn about this topic?
  • Is your proposal “argumentative” (or is it just a statement of fact)?

You should do some preliminary research on the Internet to learn a bit more about these possible topics (however you do this for W 11/12 is fine: Google, Wikipedia, etc.).  You may realize in your initial search that your topic has a lot more to it than you previously thought, or conversely you may realize that your topic is too straightforward and you don’t want to go ahead with it. Your goal at this early stage of the research process is exploratory: to gain an overview view of your topic, brainstorm useful keywords, refine your search, ask additional questions.


Why do I need a Research Proposal?

  • When you start this research project, it is normal for you to be unsure of the particulars of your topic or research question; you may even decide to change your topic or position as you find more information.  Altering your argument/plan of action is OK and expected.  Your task is not to find sources that only back up what you already know/believe (you won’t be learning anything this way!).
  • However, by the time you start the next phase of your project (creating an annotated bibliography and presentation), you should have a focused topic and a plan of action.  So this part of the assignment will help you to gather your ideas.

Here are some helpful guidelines for the final draft of your Research Proposal (due Tu 12/2):

1.  Your proposal should be very specific/clear.  Although you will first start out by brainstorming ideas and getting a handle on your research, the final draft of your research proposal should do more than just provide a general idea of your project and list a few questions.  Before turning in the first draft of your research essay on 12/2, you should have a clear idea of what your research question is, your thesis statement/argument, what the main issues at stake are, important points to discuss, etc. Think about it this way: if you were going to send your paper to a journal for publication and they asked you to send a summary of your work (not your whole paper), what would you tell them so that your argument/point is very clear and concise?  What kinds of information would you not need to include?

2.  Don’t use the 1st person (I, me, my, we, our, us) or the 2nd person (you, your, yours).  State your argument/ideas in a formal/impersonal/authoritative way.

3.  Minimize the “interest” section of your proposal.  Since you have already spent some time researching your project, it is clear that you are invested in it and you don’t need to spend too much time explaining why (it should be clear from the rest of your proposal what exactly you are interested in with this topic).

4.  Make sure that you have connections among your various points, sentences, and paragraphs.  Don’t just list one point after the next (stacking up details) without considering their connection to another and to your overall argument.  Your proposal must be coherent, connect the dots for your readers, and answer the “so what?” question.  Don’t be afraid to “give away” your ideas here … that is what you want to do.  And as always, be as specific as possible (you don’t want to leave questions unanswered, statements vague/general, etc.).

5.  Eliminate any unnecessary “behind-the-scenes” narration; don’t spend time telling stating, “When I first started, I was going to do this topic, but then I changed my minds and … .”  This type of conversation is OK for the initial stages of the proposal, but in this final draft you should just present your project as it stands now (not the process you went through to get to this point).

6.  Similarly, for the section on the research you’ve done already, don’t waste time stating, “My research looked at databases, and I searched on google.com, and I found some good books.”  Instead, actually tell your readers what your research has taught you (content).

7.  This final draft should be updated significantly from you previous proposals.  Just like when you revise an essay you also must update the outline that accompanies it, here too you must update your proposal as your research progresses/solidifies.

Your thinking will likely change as you write the first draft of the project and then revise to the final draft.  This is OK (and good!).  You do not have to stick to exactly what you present in your proposal.  Change is a natural part of the writing/learning process.

8.  Research proposals should be approximately 350 words, single-spaced (1-2 paragraphs).


Part 2: Annotated Bibliography

  • W 11/12: First draft,1 source, due (post to blog)
  • M 11/17: Second draft, 3 new, additional sources, due (post to blog & bring four printed copies to class)
  • Tu 12/2: Final Draft due Research Proposal + 6 Annotated Sources (bring “portfolio” folder to class and e-mail file of Final Draft–as one document–to Professor Belli, labelled as: Jill Belli, Proposal and Annotated Bibliography, Final Draft)

What type of sources do I use?

While I expect that you will consult many, many more sources, you must incorporate a minimum of six sources in your research project.  Make sure that you use a variety of resources, and try to have sources from the following categories (and use current/up-to-date information when relevant):

  • Recent scholarly books in print: chapters and/or excerpts are acceptable
  • Recent scholarly articles found in online journals through the City Tech (and/or CUNY) Library databases
  • Recent texts (articles, essays, editorials, interviews, etc.) from other non-book print sources (newspapers, magazines, etc.)
  • Texts (articles, essays, editorials, interviews) from reliable online sources (this means you must know where there information is coming from and if it is accurate/reliable!)
  • Media (advertisements, cartoons, artwork, TV shows, films, music, etc.)
  • Other (ex: fiction, interviews, surveys, etc.)

Make sure to keep track of all bibliographic information as you do your research (citations should be in MLA style). Also, check out the bibliography/references of the sources you use … looking over what sources other researchers have used is a great way to find additional relevant material for your own project.

This site has some helpful information on evaluating print sources:


And here’s one on evaluating WWW sources: http://mason.gmu.edu/~montecin/web-eval-sites.htm

If you are uncertain about the “reliability” of a source, you should consult me, a librarian, or the Learning Center.


What is an Annotated Bibliography and how do I create one?

  • For each of your sources, you should provide the bibliographic information (MLA style) and then a brief summary/evaluation of its usefulness/relevancy for your project (maximum 150 words per source).

Here are some thoughts to get you started:

1.  Make sure your annotated bibliography is single-spaced (including the citations), with a space between each citation and its annotation, and another space between different entries.

2.  The citations should be alphabetized, have hanging indents, and they should be in complete/accurate in MLA format (just like a Works Cited page).

3.  Just like for the proposal, here don’t use the 1st or 2nd person.  Your annotations should be formal/impersonal.  Therefore, avoid statements like “This source will be useful to my project because … .” Instead, just state its usefulness directly (without mention of you or your project).

4.  Write in the present tense when describing your sources.

5.  Remember that these sources are both informative and critical/evaluative.  When you give the summary, present the main idea of the source without getting bogged down with too many specific/technical details about its content (this can be overwhelming for your readers).  Similarly, don’t let the summary take up your whole annotation.  In addition to just objectively presenting what the source is about, you need to critically evaluate your source (subjectively) as to its usefulness/relevancy, bias, credibility, etc.

6.  Therefore, think about the “so what?” question with sources too.  Consider how certain sources contribute (are they factual, personal, etc.) to your project.  Where do they come from (are they organizations, individual researchers, newspapers, politicians, etc.)?   You need to synthesize your findings as much as possible.

7.  As with the proposals, make sure you connect your thoughts in the annotations (use connections/transitions … don’t just list choppy/fragmented points/details about the source).  Also, make sure you don’t simply tack on at the end statements addressing the different points I ask you to think about (usefulness, bias, etc.) like a checklist without any inherent unity/coherence.  You should include a discussion of these aspects when they are important for a particular source, and you should integrate this evaluation into your annotation as a whole.

8.  You can include more than the minimum requirement of sources in your bibliography, and you should feel free to modify your bibliography/sources (add, delete, revise) until the final draft is due.  You also don’t have to use all of these initial sources in the final project (you can have both a “Works Cited” section and a “Works Consulted” section)

To start creating your annotation for each text, you should:

  • Provide a complete/accurate MLA citation
  • Summarize the reading in a few sentences
  • Below your summary, include any questions/concerns you have about the reading (such as if you do not understand a particular paragraph or sentence, or if you are confused because you think that the text contradicts itself in different places): be as specific as possible! (In the final draft, these questions/concerns will be removed and you provide a brief evaluation of the source and state its usefulness for your own project)

Here is a good resource on annotated bibliographies:


*There will be Peer Review on your Research Proposals and Annotated Bibliographies in various stages


Here are some sample Research Proposals (earlier drafts; the final draft will be streamlined) & Annotated Bibliographies.


Part 3: Research Essay

Writing Task/Purpose
Your goal with this research project is to produce an argumentative (thesis-driven) researched/documented final report of 6-8 pages (not counting possible images, appendices, or Works Cited page/s) in which you present a focused, engaging, and fully-developed argument about a research question related to happiness/well-being. Your goal is to enter into the conversation surrounding a debatable/complicated issue and, through traditional academic research and possible fieldwork (ethnographic/qualitative research) to stake out an informed position on this issue and present an argument in response. You must cite a minimum of six sources in your essay.

Due Dates

  • Tu 12/2 (before class begins): complete first drafts (with Reflective Cover Letter & Works Cited). E-mail file to Professor Belli and bring four printed copies to class. Research Essays without in-text citations and Works Cited will not be accepted.

*This first draft is ungraded, but it is important you submit a complete, thoughtful first draft. If you do not turn in a complete first draft by the due date (Tu 12/2, beginning of class), you forfeit your right to all feedback (including peer review, written feedback from me, and conferences with me) on the Research Essay.

  • Tu 12/16: E-mail file (including update Reflective Cover Letter) and bring one printed copy to class in a portfolio folder. Research Essays without in-text citations and Works Cited will not be accepted.as a printed copy in your portfolio) in class.
 *If your final draft is not submitted both ways by this due date/time, you will receive no credit for the project. Late submissions will not be accepted.
In addition to in-class workshops and peer review, each person will meet with me at least once during the week of 11/18 to discuss its projects and get feedback/revision strategies. I encourage you to come see me again in addition to this mandatory conference.Written feedback will also be provided on first drafts of the essay.

*As discussed in class, in addition to the individualized written feedback I provided on your first drafts, I also wrote up some helpful notes for revision that apply to everyone. You can read/download/print them here. Happy revising!
*Schedule of Mandatory Individual Conferences, the week of 12/18
Tuesday, 11/18
11:30-11:45am: Lili
11:45am-12:00pm: Dominique
12:00-12:15pm: Kelsey
12:15-12:30pm: Tinika
1:30-1:45pm: Carina
2:00-2:15pm: Dulce
2:15-2:30pm: Jocelyn
3:00-3:15pm: Jack
Wednesday, 11/19
9:45-10:00am: Tanaye
10:00-10:15am: Indira
10:15-10:30am: Lucy
10:30-10:45am: Arlene
10:45am-11:00am: Jacob
Thursday, 11/209:30-9:45am: Marie11:30-11:45am: Natasha
11:45am-12:00pm: Greys
12:00-12:15pm: Mirna

Friday, 11/21
4:00-4:15pm: Gabriela
4:15-4:30am: Anna

Keep in mind that this is a cumulative project, and through all the Pre-Drafts you’ve been working on in November/December you already have a substantial portion of the Essay drafted already. What you should be working on now is synthesis/revision.
  • Pre-Draft #1: planning your project and proposing/refining your topic as well as traditional academic research (annotated bibliography)
  • Tu 11/25: Research Essay Pre-Draft

The Research Proposal/Annotated Bibliography is worth 10% of your final course grade.

The Essay (with reflective cover letter) is worth 20% of your course grade.

The quality/thoughtfulness/comprehensiveness of your revision throughout the process is a substantial part of your grade. You should make both global revisions (re-thinking/adding to content, organization, design) as well as local revisions (editing, proofreading, formatting).

Plagiarism of any kind/quantity will result in an automatic zero on the Final Project and possible failing the entire course. Please consult the City Tech Academic Integrity Policy and come see me if you have any questions/concerns.

There is also an individual reflection on the Final Project that is part of your final project grade (you can read more about that assignment below, in Part 4).

Part 4: Reflection
(Reflective Cover Letter)
An important component of this research project is your reflection on it.

This individual reflection should be 1-2 pages, single-spaced (addressed to me, as in “Dear Professor Belli” … no formal headings/letter formatting necessary), reflecting on what you learned during the extended process of developing/researching/writing/revising your Research Project, including choosing your topic; draft/revising research proposals; annotated bibliographies, the essay drafting/revising process; the library session; peer review; in-class workshops; conferences with me. Just like you have done for each assignment so far, you will reflect on your experiences of working on the Research Project. What did you learn from this project/process? What did you struggle with? What went well? How did you develop as a writer/thinker? Etc.

Each person will write and submit his/her reflection, which will only be seen by me (not your classmates). Therefore, it should be an honest reflection about the successes (or lack thereof) of your research project.

*This final project individual reflection is due as the Cover Letter of the final draft on 12/16. You should submit:

  • an electronic copy to me via e-mail
  • one printed copy (bring to Tuesday’s class and attach to portfolio)

Your Final Project Reflection will be graded on the completeness, thoughtfulness, and quality of your reflection, and your ability to critically discuss your experiences researching and writing/revising for this project.