Research Project: Interview Final Documentation

Submit your final documentation for the Interview Project here.

This documentation must include:

  1. Either transcripts (if you recorded) or your interview notes (typed and organized). This is raw data. This means that you must either record your interview or take detailed notes during the interview.
  2. A summary and synthesis of the information you gained from the interview. Information that you might include are, for example, what you found that was unexpected, what you found that warrants further investigation, and what you found that was unsurprising. You should also mention what specific information from the interview you think you will include in your final paper.

No excuses will be accepted for not including both parts in your documentation.

Associated Files

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Overview

This process may be different from other research papers that you’ve written. Through the course of the next nine weeks, you will be working with a single topic, slowly building up material in stages. At the end of this time, you will have produced an 8-10 page research paper on a topic that you care about. I stress that this is not a researched report, but rather a paper that says something of significance about your topic.

The first step in this work is isolating a topic and discovering what it is that you want to say about it. You should choose a topic that is of interest to you, but also a topic that you believe you could view objectively. In other words, please try to avoid topics that are emotionally charged. Usually these kind of topics occur when two “lines of interest” (for lack of a better term) intersect, e.g., moral beliefs and the law. So, abortion wouldn’t be a good choice for your topic. Your topic should be one to which you can contribute something on the discourse surrounding it. This means that it should be a topic to which there is no absolute and clear answer.

You will begin by submitting your proposed Research Questions. After this, you will compose a Working Thesis Paper, in which you lay out your preliminary thoughts about your research question.

From there, we move to external research. All of your sources will be cataloged in an Annotated Works Cited (aka Bibliography). Each source that you include in your Works Cited will be accompanied by an annotation that explains why you think that the source is appropriate to include in an academic argument. You will also engage in primary research by conducting an interview with a subject matter expert. You will submit your interview documentation as part of the Interview Project. This paper will require you to engage in a conversation with a selected source, analyzing its relative strengths and weaknesses.

Once you have engaged in preliminary research, you will compose an Antithesis Paper. In this paper, you will deal with objections to the position that you have taken in your thesis.

Finally, you will pull together all of the information that you’ve gathered and create a Final Paper. This is not a reprinting of the work that you’ve already done; it is a synthesis of that work. You will submit the Final Paper twice: once as a complete draft, which will go through two rounds of peer review and a review from me, and then a second timeafter having the opportunity to incorporate feedback.

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Research Project Instructions: Interview Project Overview

Introduction:

For this component of the research paper, you will be collecting primary research through interviews. Interviews can provide widely varied types of information. There is also a distinction between surveys and interviews. Interviews tend to be more in-depth, and conducted with people who have some sort of authority to speak on the subject; surveys tend to be conducted without regard to expertise in order to discover the generally held opinions of a specific population or demographic. Depending on your topic, interviews will likely produce more potentially cite-able material, while surveys will likely generate only one or two statistics. For this reason I’m requiring that you perform interviews as opposed to surveys.

There are two things that seem to cause students difficulty when completing this assignment:

  1. Identifying who they want to interview. It can be hard to think of people who might have the sort of expertise that will make your research paper better. We’re lucky to live in Seattle, where there are experts on a wide variety of topics. Look around, investigate, brainstorm with friends. You’d be surprised at what you might come up with. One of my students once tried to interview the head of the KKK. He wasn’t successful in landing the interview, but it was an interesting process.
  2. Asking for the interview. Don’t wait to ask for an interview with someone who you think would be an excellent resource. I know it can be intimidating to approach someone you don’t know. The worst that could happen is that they’ll tell you no. Well, they might also be a horrible person and insult you for even asking for their time. This has never happened to one of my students. Another good rule: be ready to conduct the interview immediately, when you ask. On several occasions in the past, students have told stories of asking for an interview, and the expert replied with something like, “I have 15 minutes right now. Let’s do it.”

Questions:

Your questions and the name of the person (or persons) you plan to interview, including their credentials and an explanation of why you think they would make a good interview subject, must be submitted in advance. These questions should present a rough idea of the type of information that you are trying to gather through the interview process. These questions are your notes for the interview. You should submit a minimum of five questions, and a maximum of twenty. Please don’t feel confined to asking only the questions that you turn in. An effective interview is usually more like a conversation that is focused around a topic (your questions), rather than an interrogation.

When considering interview subjects, you should think about what kind of people will be the most fruitful subjects of an interview. What sorts of information will make your final paper more interesting? What kinds of things would you like to know more about, and who could tell you about them? What kind of people have legitimate authority to speak on a subject? For example, if you’re writing a paper on nuclear energy, you most likely wouldn’t interview an auto mechanic. But who knows? Maybe the mechanic has a PhD in nuclear physics. You are only required to conduct one interview, but you may conduct as many as three, if you find this sort of research useful.

Documentation:

Documentation must include:

  1. Either transcripts (if you recorded your interview) or your interview notes (typed and organized). This is raw data. This means that you must either record your interview or take detailed notes during the interview.
  2. A summary and synthesis of the information you gained from the interview. Information that you might include are, for example, what you found that was unexpected, what you found that warrants further investigation, and what you found that was unsurprising. You should also mention what specific information from the interview you think you will include in your final paper.

No excuses will be accepted for not including both parts in your documentation.

Finally, a word about protocol: You don’t need to tape record your interviews, but if you do, you should ask the subject if it is okay to tape before you start recording. After you start the recorder, you should state your name and the date and time, ask your subject to state his or her name, and ask her or him again if it’s okay for you to record. This is a way of gaining legal release to use the material that you are collecting. It really isn’ta necessity, since chances are that you won’t want to publish this paper, but it’s a good habit to get into. Additionally, make sure you thank the person for his or her time.

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