Major Assignment #2

Major Assignment #2: Inquiry-based Research Essay


Sample II

Sources for Study:

Reading from our Textbook:

  • “Reading, Thinking, and Writing Critically,” Writing in the Works, 60-85
  • “Research,” Writing in the Works,” 399-421


  • “Documentation,” Writing in the Works.” 423-481

Library Course Guide

The Assignment

For this assignment you will write a research essay of at least 4-5 pages (1000 words). The objective in developing this inquiry-based research essay is not, perhaps, like other research essays with which you may be familiar.

In an inquiry-based essay, the development of a research question (such as, “Where do good ideas come from?” ,“Is Google Making Us Stupid?”, “Can Video Games Be Good for Us?” or, interestingly, “Can animals mourn?”) is the cornerstone of the essay, providing a guideline for you to follow your research wherever the information takes you. You are investigating and possibly raising additional questions rather than providing a definitive answer or arguing for one side or another.

Examples of Research Questions

In the past, students have asked questions such as, “What is the cause of prisoner recidivism (the rate by which prisoners return to jail)?,” “How does music affect the body and brain?,” Why is college so expensive?”, “What is mindfulness and how can we achieve it?” and “Why do people laugh?”.


Your sources should be used as evidence to support, contradict, or expand on your ideas, and your essay must include extensive analysis around the question you explore. The following types of research must be incorporated into your essay:

  • An interview conducted by you with a subject relevant to your research (via email or Zoom)
  • At least 3 academic sources (that is, peer-reviewed)
  • At least 2 popular media sources (such as a TED Talk or CNN) relevant to your topic
  • All use of sources must be properly documented in Modern Language Association format (MLA).


Since this is to be an essay, you might consider structuring your draft this way (but feel free to experiment and be creative, if you wish):

  • Introduction
    • Ask your question
    • Speculate as to possible answers to your question (your hypotheses)
  • Body
    • Provide possible answers to your question, setting aside at least a paragraph for each answer (try not to argue for one answer or another)
    • Integrate your source material, using quotation and paraphrase,  in a thoughtful, purposeful way, citing author
    • Use reader-friendly transitions
  • Conclusion
    • Remind your reader as to the importance of the question:  what are the implications?

Use the Short Assignments

As with your first major assignment, you will post several, relatively, short assignments  on your blog. These short assignments are designed to keep your research focused, to have you reflect on the research process and your sources so that you might better analyze them, and to help you present strong ideas in your essay. Each short assignment is designed to help you through various stages of your research.


Please post your first draft on your blog, with post write,  by class time, Mon., Oct. 26 (A02/A12)  or Tues.  Oct. 27 (A08/A43).  Please label your post “Major Assignment #2, Draft #1.”   Please post your second drafts, with post write, due on your blog, Sunday, Nov. 1by the end of the day.  Please label your draft “Major Assignment #2, Draft #2.”