Goals of this unit:

1.Apply genre-specific, academic writing techniques. (PLO 1)

2.Recognize, critique, defend, and apply rhetorical choices in writing situations. (PLO 1)

3.Effectively apply conventions of Standard American Academic English, including word choice, formality, grammar and mechanics, MLA formatting, and essay format. (PLO 2)

4.Expertly apply a process of writing from invention, drafting, revising, editing, and proofreading. (PLO 3)

5. Ethically collaborate through such writing processes as peer-review, constructive self-critique, or teamwork. (PLO 3)

6. Compose written work that reflects on connections between writing situations encountered in College Composition I, College Composition II, and beyond. (PLO 4)

7. Apply various research methods or techniques in order to synthesize multiple sources of information as a means of engaging with an ongoing academic conversation. (PLO 4)

8. Engage a variety of technologies in order to locate sources and write across multiple media for specific audiences and purposes. (PLO 5)

9. Evaluate and critique scholarly, scientific, and popular sources in order to determine reliability and to capably integrate sources with one’s own ideas. (PLO 5)


You have been studying communication within different communities, and, in essay 1, you created your own research in an effort to enter the conversation that is taking place in your field. Now, it is time to turn your attention to understanding multiple perspectives on one area of research. One goal of a college education is to get you ready to enter into your field of discourse—to join a conversation that is already taking place and to find your way into this conversation and to find a perspective to add to this conversation. A huge part of entering that conversation requires that you understand it. This essay is meant to help you explore the conversation already taking place about a topic that is of interest to you. You will choose one topic and then create a research analysis essay of the multiple perspectives or ways of understanding the research on the topic. This assignment asks you to understand, analyze, and synthesize multiple perspectives of the same argument. You will not present your own argument; instead, you will synthesize the various arguments available on the topic you wish to pursue.

Here are some examples to help clarify. You could explore the topic of gender fluidity and find articles that talk about it from the perspective of male, female, asexual, aromantic, transgender, heterosexual, bisexual, gay, and so on. You could explore this topic from the perspectives of cultural biases, family acceptance, legal proceedings, or human rights. You could also explore the concept of immigration into the United States. You could explore this topic from the perspectives of American identity, immigration processes, legal status, asylum legalities, and so on. You could also research pertaining to the struggles of students entering college writing courses, curriculum and pedagogical ideas for college writing, the differences between high school and college writing, and differing identities of high school and college writers.

This assignment is two-fold: you will construct an annotated bibliography of a minimum of 10 peer-reviewed sources. Then, you will construct a research analysis essay where you imagine the authors of the texts having a conversation with each other. The essay must include at least six of the 10 sources used in your annotated bibliography. Your essay and annotated bibliography will be graded individually, but both count equally in the final grade of this project.

Nuts and Bolts:

For this essay, you will select a topic that interests you not only on an academic level but on a personal level as well. Just as you did in essay 1, you will need to start with questions and not answers. And, you will need to choose a topic that does not have one correct answer (luckily, this includes most topics). Your task is to locate many sources (more than ten) on your chosen topic that argue from differing perspectives and then analyze how their research fits in with the other sources you have found and how that text furthers the area of research in that field. Your sources should not simply restate the same opinion repeatedly. Nor should all your sources agree with one another. Rather, your sources should build upon each other’s ideas, and their arguments should be somewhere on the spectrum of disagreement. Hence, you will want to choose sources that look at this issue from differing perspectives. And, as you can see, you will need to spend some time looking at and reviewing sources.

You are to choose at least 10 peer-reviewed articles that contain and incorporate research that relates to your topic. The articles that you choose must have been peer-reviewed. One temptation in this assignment will be to grab the first 10 articles produced in a search or that you see as interesting. You will find it more productive to “read around” in different types of publications to really discover articles that are worth including.

Annotated Bibliography:

Once you have completed your research, choose at least ten articles that you think best represent the available research in the field and create your annotated bibliography.

The purpose of an annotated bibliography is two–fold: it helps you understand your sources, and it helps you understand how each source helps your research. An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to books, articles, and documents. Each citation is followed by a brief descriptive and evaluative paragraph, the annotation. Your annotated bibliography should have at least 10 sources. For each source, you will provide an annotation that includes:

  1. The author’s (s’) main point
  2. How the author arrived at his/her main point
  3. What evidence the author has for his/her argument
  4. How the source fits into your research/how you will use it in your research

Each annotation is typically about 150-200 words and should adhere to MLA formatting. Your annotated bibliography is due on the same date as your first draft of the second essay.

Research Analysis Essay:

Next, your task is to synthesize the sources into a cohesive essay where you reveal the connections and disagreements of the research in the field on your chosen topic. Your aim is to draw together the main issues that emerge from the sources you have collected, identifying points of conflict or points of agreement. Find the common threads running through the sources and categorize these ideas, briefly explaining each issue and evaluating its importance to your topic and the field in general. This analysis does more than simply compile and summarize sources. Your aim is not to draw a conclusion or make a claim about the topic. Rather, you are to present the varying research perspectives available for your topic.

One temptation is to simply create a paragraph for each of the authors; however, you will need to organize your essay so that more than one researched article is in each paragraph so that you can demonstrate how the authors’ idea work together to create this larger body of research. Hence, you will need to discover where the authors agree or disagree and organize your paragraphs around the ideas rather than the authors.

To identify common threads in the sources, read each source searching for its relationships to the other sources (look for places where one author contradicts the other authors, places where the author supports other authors or repeated references to key texts).

Things to keep in mind while you are reading:

  • Are there common issues/problems/perspectives running through this source and the other sources?
  • Where do the sources differ? Is it their methods or their conclusions? Is it the way they attempt to persuade you? Are the audiences and purposes different?
  • What are the most significant issues regarding this topic that those studying the topic should know about? Does the author address this issue or not? Why or why not?


The research analysis essay is to be 1,200-1,500 words and should include specific, cited examples from all of your sources in MLA format. You are required to use at least six sources (of the 10 from the annotated bibliography). In addition, your essay should be written with an eye toward academic tone, voice, and Standard American English. Also, your essay should be free of grammatical errors.

Features of the genre:

The research analysis essay genre does not use pronouns, especially the second-person pronoun “you” or the first-person pronoun “I.” Do not include yourself (I, we, us, our) or your reader (you, your) in this essay.

You will have an introduction that narrows your topic so that you only focus on the perspectives that you will provide in your essay. Every topic has so many different perspectives, and your goal in your introduction is to narrow your focus to only the perspectives that you will synthesize. Your introduction will then logically lead to your focus, and your thesis statement should be clear and direct and should come in a thesis paragraph or at the end of your introduction. The thesis statement for a research analysis essay is a claim that guides your readers through the perspectives of your chosen topic that you will focus upon in your essay. Remember, you are not arguing the topic—you are simply presenting multiple sides of the same argument.  

You should have your research analysis essay divided into sub-points with appropriate section headers. Each section should be focused around only that sub-point but should connect to the other sub-points as well as the overall thesis, making the research you present clear, cohesive, and easy to follow.

In the final section of your essay, you will present your conclusion. Conclusions in research analysis essays answer three questions:

  1. Did I do what I said I would do? In other words, did you present enough evidence to support the claim about the topic that you made? This is more than a mere recitation of your thesis.
  2. Why is this important? This question moves your research beyond our classroom walls. What is the significance of the multiple perspectives on this topic?
  3. What do you want readers to do with this information? You are the expert on this area and you need to tell readers what they should do with the knowledge that you have given them.

A few reminders about paragraph structure:

  1. You should have a topic sentence that includes a transition and overviews the focus of the paragraph as it connects to your thesis.
  2. You should then expand on your thesis, describing how this idea (or sub-point) furthers your thesis.
  3. Give examples to which the audience can relate.
  4. Synthesize your outside sources with your ideas. For a research analysis essay, you will include more than one source in each paragraph—you should not organize your paragraphs around one source, as you need to put the sources in conversation with each other.  
  5. Discuss how the sources help you demonstrate the sub-point.
  6. Finish the paragraph with a sentence that connects the sub-point back to your thesis.


  1. Choose a topic that is of importance to you
  2. Determine what you want to know about the topic
  3. Read about 30 articles
  4. Choose 10 that allow you to demonstrate the varying perspectives on the topic 
  5. Write your annotated bibliography
  6. Organize your ideas around your controlling idea/claim (a statement that tells your readers the perspectives you will focus on in your essay)
  7. Pull out the information from our sources to be used in your essay (this include summary, paraphrase, and direct quotation)
  8. Write a rough draft of the research analysis essay
  9. Go see your professor or the Writing Center if you are struggling
  10. Actively engage in the writer’s workshop
  11. Make changes based upon the information in the workshop
  12. Go see your professor or the Writing Center if you are struggling
  13. Attend the peer review workshop
  14. Make changes based upon feedback from workshop
  15. Go see your professor or the Writing Center if you are struggling
  16. Edit and proofread
  17. Hand in Unit 2 essay and reflection

To earn the minimum grade of a C, your essay must…

  1. Be in MLA format
  2. Be on time
  3. Have been peer reviewed in workshops
  4. Meet the page requirements
  5. Have a controlling idea (claim) with evidence from all the sources
  6. Be cohesive and organized around your controlling idea
  7. Be specific and give details and examples
  8. Hand in essay and reflection on time

Essay 2 Reflection Questions

Directions: In a MLA format, construct a short essay that responds to these questions. Your reflection is due ­­the day of your essay 2 at 11:59pm to the appropriate TurnItIn drop box and is worth 5% of your overall grade for this class.

1. What did you learn in the first essay that you used in the second essay? What did you learn in another class that you used in this second essay? Give examples, explain, and be specific.

2. What did you learn in essay 1 that you did not use/was not applicable to essay 2? What did you learn in another class that you did not use/was not applicable to this second essay? Give examples, explain, and be specific.

3. What did you learn in the second essay that can be applied in other courses? Give examples, explain, and be specific.

4. What do you think you learned in the second essay that will not be applicable to other classes? Give examples, explain, and be specific.

5. How does the creation of an annotated bibliography and research analysis essay help you improve your writing, in general? How will it help you approach writing tasks in the future? Give examples, explain, and be specific.

6. From the comments you received from the readers of your essay, what are your writing strengths? Writing weaknesses? Are these weaknesses and strengths the same or different from the weaknesses and strengths that you had in the first essay? 1301? How so? Give examples, explain, and be specific. Remember, grammar is neither a strength nor weakness.

7. From my comments as a reader of your first essay, what do you think my comments to you will be on your second essay? What will be different? What will be the same? Give examples, explain, and be specific.

8. What was the most challenging aspect of this Unit? Least challenging? Give examples, explain, and be specific.

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