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The Final Essay Project
The final essay project combines the structure of the research paper with the advantages of the Web architecture for supporting your argument and ideas with “rich media” content for references, links, and embedded media (images, graphics, video, music).
What you are NOT Doing
You are not writing a “blog post” or a Wiki article. (WordPress is our content platform, not a blog.)
What You are Doing in the Final Essay
Like all research papers, your essay must be motivated by a research question with your own argument and interpretive framework. Begin with the motive to figure something out, go deeper into the research, problems, questions, and interpretive frameworks for a topic that we began exploring in the seminar.
Unlike the static “paper” (which, in academics, is still too often actually on paper or emulates a paper document), the Web format allows us to use multiple media sources and a “bibliography” of references to supporting materials in any medium (text, image, video, film, sound/music). Your reference “bibliography” can include any relevant form of media that supports your argument.
Using the approaches, theories, and methods in the seminar, develop a topic for an extended essay with examples or cases to interpret or apply your ideas. Your essay should present evidence and argument that draws on the research literature(s) of the relevant fields. Interdisciplinary work requires a statement of methods being used and combined.
In developing your thinking as a graduate student, it’s especially important to work out your own synthesis of theories, methods, approaches, and concepts that allow you to make discoveries and connect your work the larger conversation and questions that define the research communities you participate in.
Your essay should be about the equivalent of about 15 pages of traditional writing, and with a fully developed set of references and links to relevant sources. Be as creative as possible with the Web environment of your essay.
Required Structure for Presenting Your Argument
For the structure of your argument in a professional research essay (in any format), refer to my Writing to be Read: A Rhetoric For Writing in the Post-Digital Era. Follow the guidelines there for a successful structure to the presentation of your argument and research. This is the main required structure:
- Introduction: establishing your topic and approach, stating your research question, and your main thesis [what the essay is about]. It’s good practice to summarize your main sources and methods that provide the framework for your thesis. Your thesis is a summary of your conclusion.
- Main body of the essay: paragraphs organized to support your argument with analysis, interpretation of cases, examples and/or evidence.
- Conclusion: wrap up your main point and significance of your work, how it connects to questions in the field you are working in.
- List of Web sources and links (you can combine with the whole bibliography if preferred)
- Bibliography or Works Cited/Consulted: all the relevant materials you have considered or want to reference to support your essay.
References and Citations
Include a “Works Cited and Consulted” or “References” bibliography at the end of the wiki essay. Use the documentation format of either the humanities or social sciences. Refer to the following online guide for a quick summary of citation styles:
- Diana Hacker’s Bedford-St. Martins Guide (good guide to MLA or APA citation styles)
- Georgetown University Library Citation Guides
The Web Space for Your Essay
I will set up an individual “page” for your final project. Read other students’ essays from earlier semesters for good models: the essays that stand out will be those with a good structure to the argument and good use of research material and sources. You may also find references that you can use in your own research.
Using and Maintaining Your Essay After You Finish the Course
Your essay and the fixed URL for your page will remain available for reference, for linking (blogs, social media), and for job or academic applications in the future. You will be able to update and revise your essay for as long as you have access to the Georgetown Digital Commons with your GU NetID and password.