Semester-Long Research Projects

Semester-Long Research Project Description

Over the course of this semester in LDST 250, you will each choose a topic, and you will be spending a lot of quality time with it, so make sure it’s something that actually matters to you. In the long-term, you will make an argument about some subset or component of that topic that situates it historically/culturally, statistically, and ethically.

Once you choose a big topic, you will find that you will (most likely) need to narrow your SLR (Semester-Long Research) topic to become more focused. That’s fine—it will happen naturally as you work through the assignment sequence. If you have an idea of how you want to focus right away, that’s great, but not necessary.

The following rules apply:

  1. No two people can have the same topic.
  2. You will have to try to present a solution to some problem or an answer to a question relative to that topic.
  3. You will need to relate it in some way, shape, or form to something relevant to leadership, policy, or leadership studies. (If you aren’t certain, talk to Dr. Bezio—almost everything has a relationship to some element of leadership.)

This project will be the source for the vast majority of your homework throughout the semester, including quick responses, source-finding missions, short papers, a long research paper at the semester’s end. At each stage, you will be asked to apply the different lenses and skills we are discussing in class.

Within each section, the project should do the following:

  • Each section should use documented (and cited) evidence from relevant sources (some of these will be academic, some might be news, some might be popular, some might be opinion).
  • All sources should be examined critically, and evidence should be presented with an argument for why it is or is not accurate (no evidence speaks for itself—you must explain why it is reliable or not and how you’re using it).
  • The paper should be organized clearly and logically. Section headers are optional.
  • Should use appropriate tone and syntax. Use spell-check and grammar-check, as you will be graded on the correctness of your language as well as its overall tone and “flow.”
  • All sources must be correctly cited (APA, Chicago, or MLA style) and appear in a works cited and consulted bibliography at the end of the paper (included in the file, not separately).

Choosing Topics

 The first thing you will have to do is think about what topics you might want to research. You will need to choose five.

You should choose topics that you 1) have a genuine interest in or passion about, and 2) that you feel you can be open to learning more about.

Topics can come from any (or more than one) of the following categories:

  • Historical events or persons
  • Psychological questions or phenomena
  • Social movements or problems
  • Ideological positions
  • Biological or medical questions
  • Ethical questions
  • Fictional/Artistic works (in a historical/cultural context)
  • Economic practices or principles
  • Business practices
  • Opinions
  • Religious systems of belief

As you choose your Big Topics, be aware that whatever Big Topic you settle on will be far too big for you to actually write a paper about it. You will be narrowing down your Big Topic considerably before you actually start writing (we will be doing this together in assignments and in class).

This might also mean that you and someone else will have similar or the same Big Topic, but you will end up with different foci for your actual work, and that’s perfectly fine. For instance, two people might start with “religion” as a Big Topic (that’s a REALLY Big Topic). They then might narrow that Big Topic to a slightly less (but still Big) Big Topic of “Islam” and “Judaism.” They’ve already headed in two different directions, and they’re still at the level of Big Topic. From there, they might end up with “Why American Islamophobia is harmful” and “Should the US support Israel?” as their driving focus (notice that one is a “preliminary thesis” and the other is a “research question”).

From Spring 2018