Inquiry Project

The final assignment is the inquiry project. You’ll need to have this finished and published on your blog for a grade by 11:59pm on July 30. It’s worth 35% of your final grade.

Think of your inquiry project as a researched argumentative essay for the digital age: although it will have many of the characteristics of academic writing, it’ll take advantage of thought vectors in concept space–and lots of creativity–to make something much more involving and rewarding than a typical “term paper.”

This project should not look or feel like a “school assignment.” Do not write to your teacher. You are writing on the world wide web; thus, in many ways, the world is your audience. Create a project of which you are proud and one you want to share with others. This is an essential goal of the inquiry project.


Your argument should have a clear and polished main claim that is supported by at least three subclaims/reasons and thorough evidence. In your main claim, you should state your stance and provide an outline of your argument.  The main claim usually comes at the end of your introduction.

You should use at least 8 sources of which at least 3 are scholarly sources. These are bare minimums and most students use more.  You should not cite Wikipedia or any other encyclopedia (unless, of course, you are writing about that encyclopedia), nor should you ever cite, an online dictionary, or any other “quick reference” site. You need to do thorough research using credible sources. When not using scholarly sources, you should use primarily substantive sources.  (See definitions for these terms below.) When in doubt about the validity of a source, just talk with me:)

Because you are producing serious academic work, proper documentation of your sources is essential in order to maintain your credibility on the web. In-text citations (and links to the actual source whenever possible) are required for all research, and your project should include a correctly documented works cited/reference page. The works cited/reference page does not count toward the 3500 words.

PURDUE OWL is a great reference for how to document sources. Keep in mind that no matter how many times you write citations, you never memorize the methods so you always have to look it up.  Each type of source is cited differently. If you need additional assistance with citations, just ask me:)

There should be a substantial digital component–including still images, videos, animated gifs, sounds, links and MORE. What is “MORE?” That is your challenge to figure out.  This is the most fun part! Be creative. Challenge yourself!

In addition to the digital stuff, you should use at least 3500 words (again, that’s the bare minimum).

Revision is essential to the success of your project. We will provide you with some opportunities for revision. However, ALL students must visit The Writing Center at least once by July 29. Go ahead and schedule a face-to-face or online consultation at The Writing Center now so that you can choose a time that is convenient before they get booked up.  Prepare for your appointment by submitting your most recent revision, reading it carefully just before your appointment, and arriving with at least three specific questions for the consultant.

The Writing Center will email me a summary of your session shortly after it is completed and you will receive credit for this important process and participation work.

Although your final project should be reachable through your blog, you will probably want to create the final project somewhere else and just post the link. There are no limits about the digital tools you might use to create your project and where your project should reside. However, it must be open to the public.

Important Note: You should not think of your inquiry project as a paper that you write in Word and dump into your blog before adding some links and images. Rather, your inquiry project should be written for the web, and you should be considering and making notes about how you can supplement your text the entire time  you are drafting.

Our motto for this project: Be thorough in your research, clear, articulate and careful with your words — and creative with your form!

A couple definitions regarding source types referenced above:

  • Scholarly sources: Written by experts or scholars for experts and scholars in their own field, these sources have in some way been vetted by people with expertise in the field in which the author is writing. For example, a scholarly book may be published by a University Press or edited by a panel of peers. Scholarly articles often undergo the process of peer-review, in which experts in the field read and critique articles prior to their publication in a journal.
  • Substantive sources: Written for an educated, but not necessarily expert, audience, these sources seldom claim to present new knowledge; instead, they make knowledge available to non-experts. They often cite scholarly sources, but generally do not include a bibliography. Authors need not be scholars in the field; however, they engage in significant research and support their claims with reasons and evidence.  Examples can be found in publications such as these: The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Harper’s, Psychology Today, Scientific America.NOTE: NOT EVERY ARTICLE IN THESE PUBLICATIONS IS SUBSTANTIVE; in fact, the substantive source is usually just the feature story–commonly called the cover story because it is featured on the cover of the magazine. To reiterate, the vast majority of your non-scholarly sources should be substantive sources.For a thorough but certainly not complete list of Substantive Sources, see the lengthy list of Magazines on the left-hand side of this page: and please note that not every article in these magazines is substantive; rather, these magazines often contain one or two substantive sources–but often just the feature/cover story.

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UNIV 200: Inquiry and the Craft of Argument, 006

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