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Research Paper Assignment

Freshman Inquiry Portland
Evan Robert Farr
The major assignment of Winter Quarter is a research paper, written on a topic of your choosing.
Over the course of the next several weeks, you will research and develop paper relating to one or
more topic(s) in contemporary Portland, Oregon.
The goal of this assignment is for you to independently develop a sophisticated and informed
argument about your topic. If you choose to examine the literature of Portland, for instance, it
will not suffice to simply include three sections detailing three Portland authors; you will need to
include a unifying theme that your research suggests connects the authors together. The same
goes for other topics: whether you are examining Portlands environment, its artists, its
educational system, or its bridges, your primary task will be to stake out a position or a
unique/original interpretation of the topic.
This assignment is designed to exercise your abilities in all four of the University Studies goals.
To design and research an original topic, you will be required to engage in critical thinking and
inquiry at a high level. To present that research in a coherent, convincing, and organized way,
you will need to communicate effectively. To fully understand all of the facets of your topic, you
will need to consider the diversity of human experience. And to illustrate the importance of the
position or interpretation you ultimately take, you will need to examine the ethical issues with
which it relates.
A substantial amount of the time you spend on this assignment will be in research. In main
session, mentor session, and a special library session, we will be discussing and practicing the
research skills that will be required to complete this assignment. Hence, participation and
attendance over the next few weeks will be very important.
As we progress through the next few weeks, you will be asked to complete reading assignments
from The Curious Researcher relating to the stages of composing a research paper. I will
announce these readings in class, through email, and on the course syllabus.
At the end of this document, Ive included a list of potential topics you may choose for your
paper. Regardless of whether you choose one of these or another topic, you will be required to
submit a proposal outlining your project.
Required Components
Proposal: In your proposal, you should identify (1) the topic you have chosen, (2) how you plan
to carry out your research on the topic, and (3) the basic structure you envision the paper having
(the specifics of your argument will naturally be shaped by the research process, but you should
at least be able to tell us the general information you plan to include in the paper). Generally

speaking, this should resemble the abstracts that are often found at the beginning of scholarly
articles. This proposal will be 1-2 pages in length, double-spaced with one-inch margins. Due on
D2L by 11:30pm on Friday, January 22.
Annotated Bibliography: The annotated bibliography will include bibliographic references for at
least ten (10) sources that you plan to use in your research paper. Each reference should follow
MLA, APA, or Chicago works cited formatting. Below each bibliographic reference you will
also be required to include 2-3 sentences summarizing the content of the work you are citing. At
least one of the sources you list must be a peer-reviewed article from a scholarly journal. Due
on D2L by 11:30pm on Friday, January 29.
Rough Draft: Before you turn in the final version of your paper, you will turn in a rough draft for
peer review. By this point, your paper should be at least 65 percent (~2/3) complete. Due as a
hard copy at mentor session and digital copy on D2L by 7:00am on Tuesday, February 9.
Final Paper: The final paper will be 10-12 pages in length and represent the culmination of your
research. You will present a thoroughly cited, sophisticated argument about your topic. Your
argument should be supported throughout not only with logical arguments, but also with
information you found during your research. You must cite at least three (3) peer-reviewed
sources in your final paper. Due on D2L by 7:00am on Thursday, February 18.
Potential Topics
Here is a list of potential topics on which you may choose to write your research paper. This is
by no means an exhaustive list, and you are free to choose a topic that is not listed here.
However, if you choose to do so please talk to me after class or during office hours at some point
in the next week.
Music of Portland (popular or otherwise)
Visual arts of Portland (feel free to focus on a subset of the visual arts, or on the gallery scene)
Literature of Portland (poetry, fiction, etc.)
Portland on television
Portland in cinema
Portlands infrastructure (e.g. roads, bridges, parks, etc.)
Portland planning (you may choose from a variety of sub-topicsthe urban growth boundary,
public transportation, highways, etc.)
Portlands environment (you may focus on a current environmental problem, such as pollution of
the Willamette river, or on current/proposed policies designed to address environmental
issues, or something else entirely)
Elections in Portland (perhaps including Portlands unique public financing system, in place
from 2005-2010)
Governmental structure of Portland (e.g. the commission system)
Taxation in Portland
Gentrification/disinvestment in Portland
Race in Portland
Gender/sexuality in Portland

Religion in Portland
Equality/inequality in Portland
Crime and policing in Portland
Portland and immigration
Portland organizations (anything from the Arlington Club to local community groups)
Portland movements (Occupy, LGBT activism, Tea Party, etc.)
Portland businesses (anything from Nike to Etsy sellers)
Radicalism/extremism in Portland (Portland has been and is home to groups from both the far
Left and far Right)
Education in Portland (primary, secondary, post-secondary, etc.)