Research-project construction materials

Week Three Draft Assignment


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End of Week 3 (Sunday). Submit your work through the “Week Three Draft” submission link.


This is the assignment that is going to take you from a collection of write-ups on individual sources to an actual draft. It might be helpful to think of the writing you’ve done thus far in the class as a set of research-project construction materials. For example:

Week 1 introduction foundation
Week 2 source write-ups building materials

Now you are going to prepare some binding agents (transitions! synthesis! see below…) to bring everything together in the form of an actual draft of your research essay.

Be aware, though, that you are likely to find you also need more, or different, materials. It is at the drafting stage that we often notice significant gaps or unanswered questions in our research. We realize that more research is required–and possibly also refinement of the original research question.

This kind of looping back is not a sign of trouble. Rather, it is a natural part of the research writing process, which almost never follows a tidy straight line from idea formation to source gathering to drafting.

Two of our Week 3 readings are of particular importance for the draft. One is the Week 3 assigned reading on Synthesis (, and the other is the Week 3 Lecture on Transitions ( ). The Synthesis lecture will help you begin thinking about how your ideas fit together, and how best to arrange them. The Transitions lecture will help you think about how to signal these relationships to readers.

For a reminder of what the finished product will look like, see the Final Research Project specifications document on this assignment. Note, though, that no concluding paragraph is required in the Week 3 draft (we will work on conclusions next week).


How to develop your work into a Week 3 draft

As the old saying goes, “there is more than one road to Rome.” Below, however, is an approach that you will likely find helpful for transforming your week-one introduction, week-two library report into the Week 3 Draft. If you are having trouble getting started or are short on time, try tackling the items below one at a time. Also, if the order of tasks below isn’t working for you, go ahead and jump around—whatever gets you started in transforming the pieces you’ve been developing to this point in the class into a draft that you can submit at the end of week 3.

“Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs” –Henry Ford


☐ Join all of your project-related work into a single document: the Week 1 Introduction, and the Week 2 Library Research Report.

☐ Carefully review any revision recommendations you’ve received on your earlier work. If substantive changes are needed (especially changes to the research question itself!), you will want to attend to those first. If you are confused about any feedback you’ve received from your instructor or classmates, get that confusion cleared up.

☐ Read/Re-read the assigned page on Synthesis and begin arranging your source write-ups. You began the process of synthesis in week-two when you analyzed sources in terms of how they spoke to your research question. Now return to these week-two source write-ups and examine them carefully. What are the different components of your inquiry that they help address? Which of the sources develop similar claims? Which represent areas of debate within your inquiry? What are some similar or different methodologies you see being employed to study issues related to your research question? What similar or different values or priorities seem to be motivating the research? Are there areas of strong consensus? Are there questions or sub-questions that your sources downplay or ignore?

The idea here is to think about all of the different things you might say about your sources in relation to one another. Jot down some notes (you might want to do this directly on your document in a different colored font), and move paragraphs around so that related ideas appear together. In some instances you may want to merge two source write-ups into a single paragraph, or divide one write-up into two paragraphs.

☐ Are there gaps in the skeletal draft you’ve constructed that point to the need for more research? If so, now is the time! Re-visit the strategies you practiced in Unit 2 (using different databases, using one source to find others, etc.), and, as always, don’t hesitate to contact a librarian if you are in need of research assistance ([email protected]).

☐ Read/Re-read the unit-3 lecture on Transitions. Do you see how transitional phrasing can be used to express the kinds of relationships among ideas that you’ve been reflecting on? Take a look at the sample Final Research Project as well. Notice how the author uses transitions to show his readers relationships between the sources he found through his research. Note that he has synthesized his sources (he has identified relationships, contradictions, gaps, etc.) and that each paragraph begins with a sentence or two that make these relationships explicit for readers.

Again, synthesis—and the expression of synthesized ideas through carefully-crafted transitions—is the glue that holds the individual paragraph together and helps them cohere as a single research project. Try writing some transitions that express the relationships you’ve identified among your sources.

☐You attended to substantive revisions earlier in this process. Now is the time to attend to any more localized matters your instructor or peers commented on at an earlier stage, or that you’ve become aware of yourself upon reviewing your work. Take a look at the minimum requirements for the rough draft. Is your draft on track to meet these requirements? Revise as necessary. To get even more mileage out of this draft, check what you have against the Final Research Project specifications and the grading criteria. Strive to submit your best effort at this stage as a means of ensuring that the feedback you receive from peers and your instructor will be feedback that you can use (rather than a recitation of things you already know about and had intended to get to later).

☐Check your work against the list of “Presentation Norms in academic papers” that appears in the class lecture on Document Design:


The following annotated example calls attention to specific draft requirements:

*Note that this example contains a chart. You may include visualizations, but they are not required in a paper.

Grading of the Week 3 draft

Evaluation of the draft will be based on demonstrated draft-stage effort to fulfill project specifications. Drafts that demonstrate an attempt to meet all of the specifications below can potentially receive full credit (100%/A+) even if they do not yet meet the specifications at the level required for the final version of the research project.


Introduction communicates the research question, and this question matches the actual content of the essay.

Essay emphasizes high-quality, relevant, scholarly sources

All body paragraphs focus on discussion of research findings and explain the significance of these findings in relation to the research question.

Source identification* is correct, clear, and concise.
*Remember that, in ILR260,  “source identification” means doing what journalists do and explaining—briefly—who our sources are.

Sources are synthesized and paragraph transitions are used to signal  relationships between ideas.

Writing is clear and accessible to non-specialist readers.

Citation follows APA style (unless you’re a humanities major and have arranged to use MLA).

Essay adheres to presentation norms of academic papers

Note: no conclusion is required at this stage. We’ll tackle the conclusion during Week 4.

Work that substantially deviates from the assignment requirements (for example, the draft offers something other than analytical research writing, or it relies on sources inappropriate to an academic research project, or it contains sentence-level problems so serious as to prevent assessment of other aspects of the work) will receive partial or no credit.

If you run into problems while working on your Draft during week 3, please ask for help!


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