Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Assignment: Annotated Blog Posts for Conventional Literary Research

Yesterday my students received some research training at our library. In an effort not to have them overwhelmed, I set forth a short, selected list of literary research resources on our course wiki that I want them to be sure to explore.

So I am giving them an assignment to blog about their use of three of the listed resources and to report on sources found within them. However, only two of these sources should be relevant to their own research subject; one must relate to the research of one of their peers (I require this in order to promote social learning and engagement with fellow students). The three posts should be completed by Friday, May 27, 2011 at 2:00pm.

This assignment is much like an annotated bibliography assignment, except that I am urging as much attention to their process as to the result of their search; to the tool used to find a good source, as much as that end source itself.

Conventional academic writing requires no documentation of the research process, just documentation of the sources finally used. (Occasionally authors will include a "Works Consulted" page, but this is considered secondary and optional; what matters is to document the sources actually used). But as I am fond of saying, within online writing it is critical to document process -- and such documentation can in fact prove as valuable as the formal academic product itself. This is why I am requiring a narrative to accompany the described sources.

Each of the three blog posts I am requiring in this assignment should be set up as follows:
  1. Blog Post Title (This should link the resource being used to the subject of the research)
  2. Statement of goal ("I'm going to use a database resource, [name], in order to research [...]).
  3. Name of the research resource used and brief overview statement about it (the overview can be drawn from the blurb about the resource found by hovering over it within the library's list of resources)
  4. Short narrative of how this resource was used 
  5. Source citation (using complete MLA Works Cited style)
  6. Brief summary of the source (could  be just one sentence)
  7. Statement of relevance to research question (also brief)
Of course, students can add whatever other explanation they deem appropriate.

Here is an example post from my own research:
  1. Finding Digital Moby Dick in Chadwyck-Healey's Literature Online [my blog post title]
  2. My purpose is to explore LION (Literature Online), a literary database, in order to pursue my research on connections between Herman Melville's Moby Dick and the online writing environment.
  3. LION (Literature Online). This is a resource indexing multiple databases about English poetry and drama, some fiction, and Shakespeare. It has reference works and lists of selected web resources.
  4. I browsed the "Individual Collections" and followed the link to the Early American Fiction 1789-1850 collection. Within that collection's contents, I found an entry on Herman Melville. Clicking on the author page for Melville, I found links to full texts by Melville (but no Moby Dick!), and a link to a biography of Melville. 
  5. Canning, Richard. "Melville, Herman, 1819-1891." Literature Online. 25 May 2011. 
  6. I learned in this biographical article that Melville was a teacher, as well as a seaman, and there were a couple good paragraphs describing Moby Dick, its origins, its commercial failure, and its critical success.
  7. In rereading the novel itself in the context of Melville's life described in this biographical article, I am seeing how self aware Moby Dick is about teaching, learning, texts, narration, the problems of navigating too much information (about whaling), and the problem of digressions (literal and figurative). This is definitely giving me some great ways to make comparisons between the digital age and Melville's novel.

No comments:

Post a Comment