The Focus Essay
Your essay should chronicle the ways in which your ideas about your topic developed as a result of exploring the relevant literature. You should discuss how this led you to a more focused topic as well as a working hypothesis or central research question that will guide your further research. This project focuses on process not content. Keeping a Research Log can be helpful in organizing your experiences. This is not a research paper. Instead, write about doing the pre-research.
Recommended Organizational Format for your Focus Essay:
- Introduction: Describe your preliminary topic, the reasons why you selected it and your initial perspective on it.
- Literature Review (answer the following sorts of questions in this section):
• What were the results of your research?
• What did you find—and what didn’t you?
• How did you find it?
• What problems did you encounter while searching for sources?
• How will your findings contribute to your final research project?
• What were your most valuable sources?
• What resources i.e. online catalog, databases, were most useful to you and why?
• How did specific resources make you rethink your topic?
• Where there sources that you ended up not using? Why not?
- Conclusion: Clear description of your newly defined research topic and/or question and the working hypothesis/thesis that will guide your research.
- Working Bibliography: 15-20 key sources that may be useful for your final research project.