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Research Paper Alternatives

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Compile an annotated bibliography

Write a literature review or bibliographic essay

Engage with source types

  • find and critique a primary and a secondary source related to a specific event or person
  • write an entry for a specialized dictionary or encyclopedia
    • evaluate and edit an article in Wikipedia
  • compare & contrast one or more of the following source types:
    • a reference book and journal article
    • an article and a book
    • a popular article and a scholarly article

Compare & contrast disciplinary approaches to a topic

Write a grant proposal or research funding request

  • identify appropriate agency/funding source
  • conduct literature review
  • assess current state of the field
  • identify next steps

Stage Poster Sessions

  • students take turns presenting their findings and "making the rounds"

Hold a mini-conference

  • program with abstracts
  • panels organized by broad topic areas
  • brief oral presentations
  • question and answer period

Curate an Exhibit (actual or virtual)

  • research objects in an given collection
  • decide what to display
  • write labels and/or wall text
  • write catalog entries and/or essays
  • create metadata

Recommend the purchase of an object (work of art, book, manuscript, etc.)

  • research an existing collection
  • study auction catalogs and market conditions
  • justify recommendation

Stage a debate

  • teams research and argue opposing viewpoints

Write a rebuttal

  • read an article and identify a viewpoint that is not represented -- research the topic and argue from that perspective

Predict the outcome of an election or auction

Project the impact of new or proposed policies or legislation

Develop a communications strategy for a political campaign or activist organization

Analyze key journals and decide where to submit an article

  • editorial board
  • submission guidelines
  • circulation/distribution
  • indexing/aggregating sources
  • trends in content

Propose a new topic for the course

  • suggest readings
  • relate the new topic to others in the course
    • when should it be covered?
    • would something else have to be cut?

Consult data/statistical sources to support an argument

Draft a policy memo recommending a particular strategy or course of action

Track reports/uses of scientific research in the popular press

Collect original data and compare findings to results in relevant literature

Conduct interviews or oral histories

Possible creative projects

  • video
  • photography
  • performance
  • painting/drawing/prints
  • fiction/poetry
  • creative non-fiction
  • music/sound recording
  • web site
Last updated:
September 18, 2013