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Caleb Ellis

UWRT 1103
Professor Blandford
November 23, 2015
Final Conversation Essay Reflection
Your idea:
My initial idea was to research something about vegetarians but I did not know what I
wanted to focus on specifically. The Question Session in class served as a great tool to help me
narrow down what I wanted to research specifically. As I initially started my research, I wanted
to discover basic information within vegetarianism, such as types, lifestyle, and health benefits,
while also looking at the ideas my classmates gave me during the Question Session. Some of
these ideas were to discover any similarities or differences between vegetarians of the past and
vegetarians today, and try to discover why the idea remained the same or developed. Another
valuable idea my classmates presented me with during the Question Session was to research the
topic of genetically modified organisms, commonly known as GMOs.
As I began to research, I had no trouble finding general information on vegetarians like
types, lifestyle, and health benefits. However, when I began looking into the two topics brought
up during the Question Session, I ended up narrowing it down to one. I ended up choosing to
include information around the history of vegetarians because it led me to very interesting points
and other topics within vegetarianism to consider, and gave me something to compare in my
essay. As I researched the topic of GMOs, I concluded that the copious amounts of information
available would prove too extensive for my essay, and the topic deserved an essay composed
solely in reference to it. I considered changing my topic to focus on GMOs, but I ended up

staying with my original idea centered around vegetarians because the information I had
researched thus far interested me greater than that of GMOs.
Your research:
Because the topic of vegetarians relates to the medical field in some ways, I expected to
find most of my information from medical journals or articles. As I discovered my sources, I
found that this was mostly the case. Essentially all my sources came from journals or articles that
incorporated authors or editors with some sort of medical history; I only used one source that
was a book written solely on the history of vegetarians. On UNC Charlottes library, I ended up
discovering three separate articles from the Point of View Reference Center database, which
provided an overview, a pro-vegetarian point of view, and a counter-vegetarian point of view. I
found each article to be very helpful, especially the two that intentionally countered each other,
because they provided me with the opportunity to research into two separate biases. The book I
chose to use for a historical background on vegetarians turned out to be very useful and
interesting. I did not take time to read the entire work as it was over six hundred pages, but rather
looked in the index for places I thought would be helpful and read those. The fifth source I used
was a sourcebook for everything vegetarian and provided me with very helpful information in
regards to all vegetarian aspects. This source provided me with the most information on
vegetarians because it essentially was a four-hundred-page summary. Similar to my use of the
source that dealt with historical aspects of vegetarians, I also ended up not reading the entire
sourcebook, and focused on about eighty pages that I found to be most useful.
One article I had originally chosen to use proved to not be useful. It was a medical article
proposing the question, Should we all be vegetarians? I originally planned to use this article
because, from the title, I thought it would provide a neutral bias. As I read the article, it turned

out to provide a bunch of information that I had already encountered many times and didnt
attempt to look at things from an original point of view.
The effect of your research on your direction:
I think the most surprising part of my research was the amount of bias that I found within
my sources. Most of my sources were written from obvious pro-vegetarian points of view and it
was much harder to find sources from a neutral or anti-vegetarian view. It was also difficult for
me to choose between the scarce sources that wrote from neutral or anti-vegetarian points of
view because they did not provide the basic information I needed. Most of them spent time
attacking vegetarians, rather than providing information on vegetarians, which is what I
specifically needed.
I definitely did not find too little information while researching vegetarianism. I was
specifically surprised by the amount of information that sources presented in regards to health
benefits of vegetarians. Prior to research, I was expecting a few basic benefits such as less
obesity and longer life, but I ended up discovering much more. My sources went into things such
as cancer prevention, digestive advantages, and lower risk of heart disease. I was also thrown off
because, on top of all the apparent health benefits, many sources provided extensive information
on health topics that were lacking in a vegetarian diet. Some of these were lack of nutritional
value such as protein, or lack of essential vitamins and minerals that are more so provided in a
meat-eaters diet than a vegetarian diet.
I think that my research forced me to narrow down my topic. As I stated in a previous
section, I came into the research process with an open mind considering many of the topics my
classmates brought up in the Question Session. As I researched, however, the extensive amount
of information on everything vegetarian forced me to focus on historical aspects, health benefits,

types, and reasons to go vegetarian. I had to cut out research on GMOs because, like earlier
stated, I think the topic covers so much information it would be more suitable for someone
writing a thesis. The specific topics I narrowed my research down to presented me with the
chance to analyze different sources and opinions on each and form my own.
The writing of your essay:
In composing this essay I utilized three components of the Writing Process:
brainstorming, drafting, and final essay. I considered the Question Session to be a part of my
brainstorming process, along with my time alone thinking on what I specifically wanted to
research. Because of my literacy background and my not-so-apparent love for writing, anytime I
have to write a paper I typically only compose one draft. However, I try to make this draft as
final-essay-like as I possibly can. With this assignment in particular, after I finished
brainstorming and had gathered the research information I needed, I sat down one morning and
began writing my draft. I ended up completing my draft at the end of the same day and it turned
out to be much too long, which was no surprise for me because I always seem to include too
much information. As I finished the writing portion of the draft within a few hours, I spent the
remainder of the time editing grammar, flow, style, and originality. I try to do this with all my
drafts to save time later in the composing process. If I take time to correct most of my mistakes
on my draft, then there will be less work for me on my final copy.
Throughout the composing process, I tried to use what I got from one of our Discussion
Post readings entitled Helping Students Use Textual Sources Persuasively. This piece
discussed the need to include originality in a research paper. Rather than accepting what a
textbook says as fact, it encourages researchers to intentionally try to find disagreeing points of
view and form your own opinions on the matter. It also encourages the reader to consider

rhetorical situations when viewing the bias of an author in a source they are using. I tried to
incorporate all of the ideas I learned from this reading while researching the topic of vegetarians.
I had to be aware of the fact that many of my sources were biased and it impacted what they
wrote about. I also tried to come at conflicting points of view with my own opinion and form
original ideas throughout my research.
Your critique group:
The question session, in particular, helped me develop ideas of things to look into. I knew
I wanted to do something about vegetarians but I did not know exactly what. The question
session, as mentioned before, brought up ideas such as looking at the history of vegetarians and
how that differs from today, and also to look into GMOs.
My critique group also helped me a great deal in the process of producing my essay.
When I first came to class with my draft, it was much too long and I asked my classmates to look
for things that I could remove. In both groups, I got valuable input that I think saved me a lot of
time. I had already tried to go back and take out certain pieces but it was very difficult because I
felt that what I tried to take out was important. However, when my classmates suggested what to
take out than made an explanation as to why they thought so, I found it much easier to do.
Your life as a researcher:
Senior year of high school I had to pick a topic to research for my senior thesis defense.
The entire process entailed a research paper and a presentation, in which a panel of faculty
members questioned my topic. This research paper was similar in the fact that they both involved
me looking at sources, but I think that in this paper specifically, I looked at my sources
differently. I had never considered, until this year after reading one of our discussion post
readings, looking at contradiction between sources. In all honesty, I think I remember just

avoiding sources that conflicted all together. However, for this research paper, when I came
across points of contradiction, I tried to discover why they contradicted. Could it be because of
the authors bias? I also tried to create more original points of view in this paper, whereas in my
senior thesis, I remember summarizing a wealth of facts and information about my topic.
Your life as a learner:
I have learned a lot this semester in UWRT 1103. I think the most impactful idea that has
remained in my head this whole semester is to try and be creative in your writing. In high school,
almost all of my essays were expected to be structured in a way similar to a five paragraph essay.
This process was monotonous and made me hate writing, as it seemed like everything I wrote
sounded the same. As I entered this class, the idea of incorporating my personality, my creativity,
and my identity into my writing was a whole new concept. At first, I really did not know how to
write without using some sort of structure and I thought I would lose points if I linked in my own
identity. However, as the year progressed I looked for more and more ways to incorporate my
own creativity and ideas into my writing. This new process has made writing something that I
actually somewhat enjoy, whereas before I did not like it. I am excited to continue blending my
own ideas, creativity, and personality into my writing in the future.