Lesson 7

NOTE: In order not to overload you in any one week, assignments get a bit wonky for a bit. Make note that you start brainstorming for your research paper BEFORE turning in paper 2. Paper 2, the paper in your field, is NOT your research paper. These are separate papers.

 The Goal:

In this lesson we transition into the research paper.

For other papers, you come up with your paper topic first and then do research based on your idea. For the research paper, we’re going to reverse that process. This time, you should simply pick a topic first. You will do research on that topic in order to see what other writers have already said about it. If you’re doing enough research, you will probably come across a perspective or idea that seems interesting to you. Only then should you begin writing. Sometimes we write about our own responses and use other writers to support our opinion, but at other times our job is to do the research and then understand our response to a topic based on the research.

So, in a nutshell, you will begin collecting and reading your own research on a particular topic. It doesn’t have to be purely academic writing; research might also be a poem, a short story, or a dramatic work. Since most of you will begin with online sources, steer clear of Google and look for actual academic papers that have been peer reviewed and published in journals.

I think one of the best resources for understanding the research process can be found at  this guide from the Cornell library.

What to Read:

 Introduction to Primary Research: Observations, Surveys and Interviews‘ by Dana Lynn Driscoll in  Writing Spaces, Vol. 2.

*The Omnivore’s Dilemma  by Michael Pollan: Chapters 10-12 (53 pages)

*’Pastoral Romance  by Brent Cunningham

Writing Exercise:

First, brainstorm topics you might like to spend the rest of the semester researching and writing about. This topic should have something to do with food, but otherwise, it can be about anything you’d like.

Second, write a 100-200 word paragraph explaining what your research paper will be about, why you are doing that topic, and what background knowledge you have on it.


As Pollan hurries to find solutions to the industrial food industry in 2006, others, like Brent Cunningham, have looked critically about more holistic food cultivation methods. What would Brent Cunningham think of Joel Salatin? What do you think about Salatin?

Ready to discuss? Here’s slack.

 Submission Checklist:

  • Research Paper Topic Proposal (WA 5) (20 points)
  • Contribute to the discussion (30 points)