We believe graduate students should be treated as scholars, not students. While obedience, punctuality, and rote memorization, for example, are requisites for success in school, they have little value in scholarship. We prefer stressing innovation, conviction, and personal skill development, considered here to be important traits of successful scholars. We hope you find the following assignments to be of significant value and relevance as you develop your publication and scholarship expertise. If you do not agree, please let us know and we will negotiate and advance a more appropriate agenda. The following tasks are due on the specified Monday, through email.

  1. The Purpose Statement. All applications for funding require it, all editors of top-quality journals demand it—what is your reason for doing the research? In other words, what is your mission?, why is your research important?, if all of your research questions are answered, why would the world be a better place? Please state your purposes in one page, including a few key references. Due Monday, 12.5.
  2. Your Audiences. Every journal imbeds it, every piece of writing implicitly points to it. To whom does your research have meaning? Who do you hope to influence? What do you want your specified readership to know, feel, or do differently as a result of reading your research conclusions? Please be as general or as specific as you wish. One page, including a few references. Due Monday, 19.5.
  3. Personal Relevance. No one becomes a successful scholar without first demonstrating personal relevance and association with a topic. What is your personal stake in the research you are doing? What experience, knowledge, attitudes, actions or convictions draw you to the topic? What is your stake in the matter? Why should your audience believe the topic is important to you? Why should the audience believe you are well-suited to pursue such a topic? Two pages, including at least a dozen references of authors who have influenced you. Due Monday, 26.5.
  4. Methodological Considerations. Neither editors of journals nor reviewers for grant funding need to be schooled on research methodology. Rather, they need to believe you are using your methodologies correctly, innovatively, and thoroughly. Specifically, they want to know how your data will be collected and analyzed. Why are your approaches for collection and analysis thorough? Are you selecting methodology because you like the method or because it’s the right thing to do considering the purposes of your research? What’s the best way to handle validity concerns? How do you intend to be innovative, tailoring your methodology to your particular project? To what extent are you in command of your methodological approach? Five pages, including at least 15 key references. Due Monday, 9.6.
  5. Your Argument. Every piece of research contains an argument. If believed, your argument could change the way we view a phenomenon, read the prevailing literature, or even change policy. What is your argument? What are your convictions? What do you believe we are doing wrong, or at least not well enough, in the literature? Who believes as you do and who does not? Why is your way the right path? Five pages, including a dozen references.

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Literature Reviews - Resources


1. Complete the personal skills section of the course (See Resources above), consisting of four exercises.
2. Read and review ten reviews of literature from dissertations. Analyze the success rate of each.
3. Create a review of literature.