Illustration of Research

Your illustration of research will be a chart of the sources you intend to use for your final paper. You should have a minimum of 8 and maximum of 15 sources. Your sources should be reflective of a ranges of types of media and meaning making. This means you should be drawing on sources from communities that construct knowledge through lived experience and from individuals and institutions that construct knowledge academically.

This illustration of research will be a Google Drive Spreadsheet that lists each of your sources, summarized and synthesized with clear connections draw between them. Each entry will include the source’s

  1. author
  2. title
  3. URL (if applicable)
  4. APA citation
  5. type of media (see below)
  6. summary
  7. stakeholders represented by the source
  8. representative quotation

A sample Illustration of Research from a previous semester is available online! I also have a blank spreadsheet you can copy into your own Drive folder system.

Grading will focus on three areas:

Source diversity (5 points),  APA formatting and summary content (10 points).


Types of sources:

Peer-reviewed journal articles – These are written by individuals with expertise and published in academic environments where they are subject to high levels of oversight. You can select peer-review text in VCU Library Search when you’re researching!

Government documents – This can be anything from legislation to publicly-funded reports. The government is great for finding data!

Journalism – This must be professional journalism (news papers or research-intensive magazines) that is subject to editorial oversight and not just online income production. Major newspapers work, as do research-intensive journals like The Atlantic. Have a look at VCU Library’s guide to Substantive Sources for help evaluating non-fiction writing like journalism.

Data sets – This is often housed within journal articles or news coverage, but sometimes you can find great data sets at agencies dedicated to data collection like the Pew Research Center or Gallup. Looking for data? Start with Pew!

Primary Sources – These sources illustrate a particular historical moment or trend, and are subject to your analysis, and can sometimes be seen as expert, but don’t have to be. Direct statements from your stakeholder groups are great primary sources. Legislation and other government documents can *also* be primary sources. In my sample bibliography above I included an article that I find poorly researched and constructed, but could use in my own research to illustrate bias and historical prejudice.


Rules for research:

You must have some expert sources. This can be peer-reviewed writing, but it can also be popular publications written by individuals who are recognized experts in their field.

You should have a diverse list of types of sources. The most common problem I see is all journalism! You’ll need to balance it out with peer-reviewed text, data, primary sources, etc.

You need to be able to make a case for your source’s inclusion! This should account for your believe the text is legitimate or useful, that it fits well with other sources, and should illustrate some diversity of perspectives.


Resources for working on your bibliographies:

VCU Libraries

VCU Writing Center

VCU Writes (APA citation guide)