1a. Select a Topic1b. Develop Research Questions1c. Identify Keywords1d. Find Background Information1e. Refine a Topic
This is the "Essay #4" page of the "ENGL 150 - Woodlief -- Investigating Technology" guide.
Alternate Page for Screenreader Users
Skip to Page Navigation
Skip to Page Content

ENGL 150 - Woodlief -- Investigating Technology   Tags: society and the internet, technology  

Last Updated: Nov 6, 2017 URL: http://libguides.marin.edu/engl_150_woodlief Print Guide

Essay #4 Print Page

Get Help from the Library

Learning Resources Center
2nd Floor
(415) 485 - 9656
2017 Fall Semester Hours:
Mon-Thurs:       8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Fri:                    8:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Weekends:       Closed

Indian Valley Campus
Main Building, Room 124
(415) 883 - 2211, ext 8505
2017 Fall Semester Hours:
Mon, Tues:      10 AM - 6 PM
Wed, Thurs:      8 AM - 4 PM
Fri:                   Closed
Weekends:      Closed

Essay #4: Investigating Technology Research Paper

Essay #4: Investigating Technology Research Paper

Due dates:

Tues, Oct. 24:   Summary of two sources
Thurs, Oct. 26:  Summary of two more sources
Thurs, Nov. 2:    Full outline + Draft intro
Tues., Nov. 2;    Draft for peer review (3 – 4 pages, at least intro + 3 body paragraphs)
Thurs., Nov. 9:   Final essay due (turn in final, draft, outline, peer review sheet, optional tutor feedback)
Length:  6 – 8 pages (1,800 – 2,200 words) + separate Works Cited list, with at least 5 sources
Most people would agree that digital technology is both exciting and troublesome. We love the convenience of using our cell phones and computers: to connect us, organize us, inform us, guide us, educate us, entertain us, protect us, even inspire us.  But we’ve also heard—and most likely experienced—what makes digital technology sometimes a modern curse: its distractions, temptations, and even dangers.
We may be tempted to simply shrug our shoulders and accept or ignore our digital downfalls, clicking and linking and posting our way obtusely forward.  But the philosopher Socrates exhorts us otherwise, reminding us that “an unexamined life is not worth living.”  And so even those of us who just love our devices must occasionally ask: are they good for us?
The Question – your task:
For this assignment, you will become deeply informed about ONE specific issue regarding the use of specific digital technology.  You will research your topic thoroughly to understand it and form an educated opinion about it. 

The overall question to address in your essay (and your thesis) is:

What is the impact of ONE specific digital technology (or use of technology) – that is, what are its benefits and what are its downsides? 

Be sure to take a position on the issue, and state that position in your thesis, which means you need to decide if the costs outweigh the benefits, or if the benefits are greater than the costs.  Focus on an aspect of the use of this technology that has some controversy about it.  You may want to narrow your focus to a type of user, for example cell phone use by children, etc.

You will use research to:
1.      thoroughly explore topics to find one that is a) INTERESTING to you, about which you would like to learn more, and b) manageable and about which there is plenty of information;
2.      discover facts and opinions you didn’t know, to help you decide your own argument;
3.      define and describe your topic; and
4.      provide substantial evidence to prove your points.  
The Essay:
In an essay of 6-8 typed, double-spaced pages (1,800-2,000 words), you will:
1) introduce the essay topic, including a thesis sentence telling your reader what your argument is (about the benefits and drawbacks);
2) argue reasons to support your thesis, developing a paragraph for each point (each benefit/drawback), including concrete details, research, and examples to illustrate, and making sure to analyze and explain how these examples illustrate your point;
3) concede and/or refute at least 1 opposing argument (within your body paragraphs); and
4) draw conclusions about the topic by answering the overall  question “so what?”
In this essay, you are required to:
Use at least 5 sources, at least 3 of which must come from the CoM library databases (the other 2 may come from the library databases or credible internet sources) to support your arguments.  You may use assigned readings if applicable.  You may also use your own experience and observations in addition to the 5 sources.
q  Make in-text citations for any quotations or references you make to sources, according to MLA guidelines.
q  Include a works cited page according to MLA format.
q  Include at least 1 naysayer arguments (conceding or refuting them).
q  Format your essay according to MLA guidelines.
You will be writing this essay because you care about this issue, have interesting/original ideas about it, and want to persuade others, or at least get them to consider your subject in a new and deeper way.  You are writing to contribute to our ongoing cultural conversation about the impact of digital technology on our lives.
Your audience is comprised of readers, including me, who are interested in issues of technology’s impact.  You will argue your ideas in the hopes of gaining readers’ interest, keeping their interest, and getting those readers to think about this subject.  Remember, your readers are intelligent people, who may already have preconceived notions about your subject.  They don’t want to hear what they already know (obvious content), or be asked to summarily accept your views (beware of assumptions).  They may even oppose your arguments.  In order to continue reading, and accept your essay, they will need to hear solid, original arguments, backed up with specific, interesting evidence and analysis.
Conducting and Using the Research
There are many ways to find a topic:
·        Look in magazines, newspapers, videos, radio shows and podcasts
·        Choose one from our class discussion
·        Sometimes you need to begin researching a couple of subjects until you see which one interests you the most or has the best research available.
To research a topic:
  • Look up information first on Wikipedia to get general information only.  Wikipedia is not always accurate, and is not considered an expert or peer-reviewed, credible source.  But it is helpful to you to get a general information about a subject or field, which you can then learn more about from credible sources.
  • Then look up credible sources through our library online catalog and database or advanced Google search (see below).
College of Marin library research:
  • You can do research in person at the CoM library, using their computers
  • You can also do research remotely, from any computer with internet access.
  • First you must login to your MyCoM portal. Then choose the Library/Learning Resources tab
  • There, you can get general information about the library, and see the databases (simply scroll down). 
  • Our librarians can be a great help in finding strong research!
Advanced Google search:
·        You can use Google to find educational or government websites which are more likely to have credible information for your research
·        In Google, type “advanced google search”
·        Type your subject in “all these words” field
·        Scroll down to the site or domain field and type in .edu or .gov
·        Then click search
How to choose your research:
  • Don’t necessarily choose the first research that pops up—choose research that is interesting and fits your essay.
  • Skim each source to see what information it includes, who wrote it, why they wrote it, etc.
How to Manage and Use Your Research
1.      Print out your research!  You will want to annotate, highlight, underline, etc.  It’s difficult to USE your research unless you have printed it out.
2.      Use your research to help you identify issues and form an opinion about your subject
3.      Use your research to help you identify reasons (points) for your argument (topic sentences/claims). You can underline or put a box around each possible reason you come across in your research.  Then assign each reason a different highlighter color.
4.      Use your research to help you find evidence (information) to support your argument. Use different colored highlighters (or colored post-it notes) to help you identify information that supports the different points you plan to make. 
Crafting a Research Question
Writing a research paper requires that you formulate a question for which there is no easy answer.  If you try to write about a topic, you will feel overwhelmed and lost. Creating a clear and narrow question will help you to manage your paper and make a clear argument. 

Initial research:

·        Once you have chosen a topic (or to help you do so), do preliminary research to become better informed.
·        Jot down issues related to your topic.

Identifying an issue/problem:

Review your preliminary research.
1.      Identify problems/issues related to that topic.
2.      Turn those problems into questions.
3.      Answer the question with your thesis.

Sample Topic



Military Use of drones

Military conflicts endanger military personnel.

Do military drones lessen the danger to military personnel? 


We don’t have enough military personnel to conduct our military operations.

Do military drones enable us to more effectively conduct our policies and operations?


Drones escalate conflict

Do military drones escalate conflict?


Drones disconnect operators.

Do military drones disconnect operators?

Possible Thesis Answers: 
·        Military drones reduce risk of harm to military personnel.
·        Miltary drones reduce risk of military conflict.
·        Military drones reduce risk of harm to military personnel and reduce military conflict. 
·        Military drones reduce risk of harm to military personnel, but escalate military conflict.
·        Military drones disconnect operators from moral and intellectual engagement.
·        Military drones escalate military conflict.
·        Military drones disconnect operators from moral and intellectual engagement, and escalate military conflict.

Loading  Loading...