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HON 4960 Lifehacking the Literature: Assignments

Evaluation Rubric & Grading Scale

Students will be graded on several aspects: class participation and evidence of completing assigned readings (20%); written class assignments (25%); two essay-type midterm examinations aimed at questions on the changing nature of information (each 15%); and a semester-long project to prepare a detailed annotated bibliography on a topic of their choosing (20%) and presentation on the research process used to prepare the bibliography (5%) This bibliography could be the first step in preparing your honors thesis, or it could be on any topic of your choosing that crosses interdisciplinary research lines.

Graded work Points
Annotated Bibliography 40
Presentation on Research Process 10
Midterm 1 30
(Three 10 pt. essays)
Midterm 2 30
(Three 10 pt. essays)
Homework Assignments 50
(Ten 5 pt. assignments)
Class Participation & Attendance 40
(see syllabus regarding absences)
TOTAL 200 Points

A standard scale will be applied to final grades (>93% A, 90-93%, A-, etc.)

Class Presentation

One important part of the research process is the sharing of personal knowledge with a wider group.  Sharing your knowledge and experience can increase the amount of information available to a research community and create not just knowledge but wisdom (the ability to apply knowledge to craft better outcomes.)  In this presentation, you will be presenting your personal experience with the research process, reflecting back over the semester and interpreting your experience of information discovery in your discipline in light of some of the issues that we've talked about.

Your presentation should be between 8-10 minutes in length, so you will not be able to include everything.   Some areas you may wish discuss are:

  • Major resources, persons, or seminal works encountered during the process
  • How the conduct of research or the sharing of information is changing in your discipline
  • What obstacles did you encounter (issues related to access, availability, unique resources/programs/applications, language and interpretation, ethics, etc.)
  • Examples of specific resources in your area of research you needed to master to continue your pursuit
  • Significant moments during the research process when you felt enthusiastic or frustrated
  • Examples of exceptional discoveries and/or disappointing endeavors
  • Implications for future research
  • How your research focus changed (if it did) throughout the semester

Annotated Bibliography

A basic element of most forms of printed scholarly communication is the literature review, which is an attempt to identify and contextualize the previously produced information that bears upon your research topic.  The compilation of an annotated bibliography can be an end-product itself, or an important precursor to the literature review.  On your cover page for the bibliography, please include the following:  Your Name; an abstract, research question, or thesis statement to identify your topic; and the citation style you will be using.  Each entry in your annotated bibliography should contain both a full and accurate citation and an informative and analytical annotation.  You should organize your bibliography alphabetically by author's last name, but you may also choose to group entries into topics for ease of preparing a literature review.

Your Annotated Bibliography will be evaluated on how well you have summarized, evaluated, and critically reflected upon the information resources that pertain to your discipline. Your annotations should contain accurate citations, be clearly communicated, and comprise an extensive list of major works and resources that demonstrate that you have 1) a comprehensive understanding of your discipline’s information resources and 2) devoted a substantial amount of time in your investigation.

Research Topic Revision

Using the feedback you received from your peers in class and your own further reflection about what makes a good research question, rewrite your research question.  Turn in:

  • Your original research question
  • Your revised research question
  • A short description of what you revised and why, any response to peer reviews, questions to follow up on, etc.

Information Trends Analysis

Analyze an existing graph or table of an information trend in a one page essay in which you discuss how the data was generated, what trends does it show, what implications can be deduced from the data, and what additional data would be complementary to this data to analyze the trend.  Cite your source for the graph and include the graph on a separate page.

Possible sources for this assignment:

Discussion Question regarding Info Suppression/Control

As you read our required and supplemental readings about the Control and Suppresion of Information, prepare one substantial question to generate in-class discussion.  It could be a moral or ethical question brought up by the reading, a question that draws connections between multiple readings, a question that asks your colleagues to refine their definitions or reconceptualize the topic, etc. 

Submit your question via e-mail by 12 midnight on the day before our class to receive credit for this assignment!

Primary Sources / Carl Joseph

Primary sources are the 'raw data' of research.  In order to transform this data in knowledge, it must be synthesized and not merely summarized.  Read the Carl Joseph documents copied from the collections of the University Archives.   Based on the documents, write a 2-3 page biography of Carl Joseph.  Include as much information as you are able to ascertain based upon the documents you have read.

Ethics Case Study

Read over your assigned ethics case study prior to the in-class discussion on research ethics. In class, you and your partner will have 5-10 minutes to discuss the ethical issues at stake and decide on an ethical course of action. The group will present then a summary of its finding to the class at large in 4 minutes. This is a graded assignment, and full participation of all group members in the process is expected.

Open Access & Traditional Journals

Find two journals in your research area that you could publish in: one of which is published using an open access model, one of which is using a more traditional subscription-based model.  For each journal give:

  • The journal's title
  • A link to the journal's web page
  • The cost of an annual subscription (for an individual or institution/library) and/or the cost of submitting an article for publication (sometimes called an Article Processing Charge)
  • The journal's Impact Factor, if available

Digital Divides Presentations

You will read the assigned readings on your aspect of the demographics of information inequity and present a summary about your area in 5-10 minutes during our two classes on Digital Divides.  To receive full credit for this assignment, you should provide a handout for the class which will function as study notes, and include on the handout at least one additional resource (website, article, video, etc.) on the topic that was not in the assigned reading.

Reflective Essay on Web Use

Write a typed, double-spaced, two-page reflective essay about how you interact with and use the Web, apps, or social media. Some questions you may want to consider might include: What topics do you research online? Do you see yourself as more of a content creator or content consumer? Do you use the internet more for work or recreation? Does your use of the internet rely mostly on habit, ritually visiting sites or do you find yourself stumbling upon or searching for new webpages? How important are your social network pages compared to the rest of the Web?

Media Assignment

Find 3-4 different articles or broadcasts on the same topic or event from each of the following types of media

  • a newspaper,
  • a television or radio broadcast news,
  • a blog not associated with a mainstream media outlet.
  • an international news source (this item can count as one of the above media types).

Turn in copies of all articles or link to video.  Analyze and contrast the news reports in terms of how they reported on or reacted to the event, if they took a biased or slanted approach, and your judgments of their credibility.  Back up your analysis with quotations from the sources.

Citations Assignment

Scholarship does not exist in a vacuum, but is a conversation carried out between researchers, sometimes over the course of many years.  Cited references in scholarly communication are a means of tracing this conversation and linking together thoughts on a particular subject.  This assignment will allow you to analyse how you might use your current research as a starting point for further research forward or backward in this chain.

Using the materials (books, journal articles, etc.) that you have collected to date, do both of the following

  • find one article that you would like to follow up on to see if it was cited elsewhere.  Why is this article important to you to follow up on?  Has it been cited since publication?  If so, how did the citing authors use the original work?  If not, why do you think it hasn't been cited?
  • find a reference in the reference list or bibliography of one of your materials that you would like to follow up on.  Why do you want to trace this citation back?  What new information will it bring to your research?