Chapter 1: Introduction
What to expect
In end-of-semester reflections, writers report that this is the longest essay (3,600 words) that they have ever written. However, writers also say that completing the assignment gives them confidence in their writing. By completing a difficult task, writers learn through the experience become more confident in what they can do. If writers follow the process and stay in contact with their instructors when they have difficulties, they will be able to meet the word count.
Writers report that they have had writer’s block while trying to write the essay. Some say that the writer’s block was from focusing too much on the word count. This could look like constantly checking the word count or worrying about the word count. Ignore the word count as much as possible during your writing session and focus on ideas, your planning document, and sources. If writers get blocked, they could try free writing, reading their earlier essays, or looking at the example essays in this textbook.
Answering research questions
Writers should focus on answering research questions that they ask in their prospectus. They may find that as they begin to answer one question, new questions and answers emerge from the writing process that they did not plan for in the prospectus. This is normal, and it is the writer’s choice whether they want to follow their plan closely or loosely.
Balancing research and experience
Compared to other essays in the essay sequence, the research essay gives the writers more choice to pick the balance of research and experience that they want to include in their essays. Writers may want to include personal experiences as an introduction to their research or answer research questions through their own observations or with data from surveys that they send to classmates. Conversely, writers may also want to focus on using sources to answer their research questions.