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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:

  1. Introduction: Describe your preliminary topic, the reasons why you selected it and your initial perspective on it.
  2. 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?

  3. Conclusion: Clear description of your newly defined research topic and/or question and the working hypothesis/thesis that will guide your research.
  4. Working Bibliography: 15-20 key sources that may be useful for your final research project.


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