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Writing Program at New College

Assignments - Research Question and Cover Letter

We have arrived at a crucial moment in the semester and in everyone’s individual inquiry process. Now that you have done preliminary research and reading about an issue you have identified as important, worked through several drafts of a formal research question, the time has come to finalize the research question that will bring even greater focus to your inquiry. This assignment also gives you your first formal opportunity to address an audience of your choice about the issue/s you believe are crucial.

The research question and cover letter assignment has two parts:

1.  Revise your existing research question, and share it with your writing partner(s) for feedback. As a group, use these criteria (now familiar to you) to refine your research questions:

a.   The question accurately reflects the issue about which you want to learn.

b.   The question is neither too broad nor too narrow considering the time you have for research. Be ambitious, but not too ambitious!

c.    Key terms and phrases in the question reflect the language used by other researchers inquiring into the same issue(s). In other words, your question clearly participates in the existing scholarly conversation.

d.   The question is effectively edited and free of sentence-level errors.

2.  Write a brief (approx. 500 words) letter to an audience that has a strong connection to the issues addressed in your research question. Your task is to persuade this audience of the importance of your research question. You may use information you have gathered in your research, appeal to your audience’s concerns as you understand them, share your own personal connection—whatever you believe is most appropriate given the audience to which you are writing. NOTE: You don’t need to argue a position about the issues involved; rather, your goal is to persuade your audience that they should learn more about those issues, and take them seriously.

A successful response to this assignment will:

Include the initial research question, a final version, and a brief reflective essay

Present a final research question that is clear, well focused, and appropriate given our available time and resources this semester;

Include a cover letter that clearly communicates the importance of the question to a relevant audience.

Be effectively edited

Writing Program