The purpose of this memo is to take a first stab at articulating a research question for your research project for this class, and give some (a) background information on the topic. Explain what social movement* you expect to focus on, and give some information about it: a basic description of the movement, including its history, participants, goals, etc. Second, explain (b) why you chose this. Please include a note about how this may relate to your thesis.
Then, use Exercise 4.1 in Maxwell on Research Questions to (c) brainstorm both about ideal research questions (ie, what you would like to do, regardless of practicality), and to offer (d) 1-3 questions of interest to you that you could realistically answer through a semester worth of research. Finally, list (e) promising primary and secondary sources that you could draw upon for the class project. What kind of primary data is available (statistical, archival, interview, observation, sources from the movement itself, etc)? What kind of secondary information is available from news media and academic studies? You don't need to have read or collected these, but you need to have done enough digging to be able to list some specific primary sources and secondary works.
- If you are considering more than one topic for the project, please choose one and focus on it, then mention briefly at the end what other ideas you are also considering. Although I urged you in class to just pick something as soon as possible and consider it a pilot study, I expect that I will discuss this further one-on-one with many of you after this memo provides a starting point.
- Once I have read these memos, we will meet in person to discuss how to put together a class project that meets all of these goals.
- Memos should be approximately 2 pages, single-spaced.
- After I read the memos, I will organize the class into peer groups and share the memos only within each peer group.
- All project memos are required. For late memos, 1/3 letter grade will be taken off for each day past the deadline. So for example, a paper originally meriting an A- that is turned in between 12 pm on the 27th and 12 pm on the 28th would receive a B+, if turned in by 12 pm on the 29th, a B, etc. No exceptions will be made without prior arrangement or proof of illness. If you have a reason to need more time, please talk to the instructor before the assignment is due.
*Note: your research project for this class does NOT have to be focused on a social movement. If it is not, it must be focused on something you expect will help you develop your thesis. (Actually, even if it is about a social movement, it should be something that will work towards your thesis.) The main objectives of this research paper are (a) to help you explore and develop potential thesis topics; (b) to get hands-on experience with research design and primary data analysis; and (c) to get experience integrating your own research with a secondary literature.