The Assignment:

On Wednesday, October 15th, we participated in a library workshop, designed to facilitate your own research. This assignment asks you to implement the knowledge you acquired during that workshop and begin using Socrates and the collection of on-line databases to refine your ideas into a polished research abstract and to generate a working bibliography of sources.

("The Search Engine" - source:

The Abstract:

An abstract functions as a crystalization of your argument -- one of the challenges of a brief abstract is that you need to accurately represent your ideas in a very brief format.

You may have come across several abstracts already in your preliminary research: many databases and journals offer a single-paragraph summary of texts that provide readers with an overview of the material in question. If you are pursuing a major in the social sciences, such as psychology, sociology, anthropology, or business, you undoubtedly will be called on to write an abstract at some point during your college experience. The goal now is to give you a first taste of working with abstract form, while simultaneously encouraging you to further solidify your research topic.

As defined on p. 712 of the Bedford Handbook, an abstract is

a 75-to-100-word paragraph that provides readers with a quick overview of your essay. It should express your thesis (or central idea) and your key points; it might also briefly suggest any implications or applications of the research you discuss in the paper.[3]

Wayne Booth offers a more detailed description of the abstract in The Craft of Research (see the handout on titles and abstracts distributed in class on the week of October 6th) . For this assignment, your abstract probably should most closely fit Booth’s “Context + Problem + Launching Point” model, since you are at too early a point in your research to have reached any definitive conclusions. Since this is a course on visual rhetoric, you also should include an appropriate image in your abstract.

Therefore you should generate your abstract keeping these three points in mind:

  • You should follow Booth's model -- not Bedford's. You will generate a three sentence abstract (with no word count requirement) that follows the Context+Problem+Launching Point template.
  • You should use metadiscourse in your abstract (i.e., “In this paper, I will examine …); this is the place for metadiscourse – self-conscious writing about your writing – if there ever was one.
  • You need to include an image with your abstract. Consider doing a Google Image Search if you're having trouble finding an image appropriate to your topic: remember that the image should reflect the specific focus or stance you will be taking on your topic. Don't forget to note the source from which you borrowed your image!

The Preliminary Bibliography:

To prepare for composing your preliminary bibliography, read over the appropriate sections of the MLA Handbook to familiarize yourself with correct bibliographic style. You may want to also visit and review your notes from the library workshop.

Having done so, use library resources and databases to generate a working bibliography. It would be advisable to include articles as well as books in your bibliography; in addition, you may use on-line sources, but not exclusively. In general, the bibliography should contain secondary as well as primary sources; for example, a preliminary bibliography should not just be a list of television shows (although one or two shows may appear there). A bibliography may contain more than – but not fewer than – eight sources.

The bibliography should be in correct MLA format.

Final Comments:

To turn this assignment in, post it as a Microsoft word attachment on PanFora under your PERSONAL WORK heading.





Due Date

Monday, October 20th


Preliminary Reading

*Envision, ch. 4 & ch. 5

*Booth - on abstracts


Post under Personal Work

For this assignment, you will write a formal paragraph-length abstract, one that includes an image to support your argument. Beneath that abstract, you will attach a preliminary bibliography of 8 sources, each one formatted in correct MLA style.

Post the abstract and bibliography under your PERSONAL WORK folder.

This installment in the Research Project will be graded s/nc.