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326.SSR Journal (15%, 15 points)

Research involves continuous, immersive reading and writing. Often, when we collect an item and begin to read it, we find usable snippets that we want to keep and comment upon for future returns. Some of these notes will expand to become cornerstones in your larger written research project. Others will turn out to be peripheral to your account. In both cases, the practice of selective excerpting and annotation is a vital complement to successful research writing.

The self-selected reading (SSR) journal in ENGL326 is a space where you will sketch ideas and collect reading notes related to P2 and other aspects of the course. The journal should function as a space for drafting, for provisional thinking, for posing questions, and for exploring possibilities at the edge of your work-in-progress. In this sense, by writing in it regularly, you will create an additional layer useful for revisiting as you refine your thinking and as you revisit key readings you gathered along the way. You may self-select reading from all variety of sources: books, scholarly journals, specialized encyclopedias, library databases, news outlets, blogs, and so on. Many of your self-selected readings may come from the Google Reader account you set up early in the semester, or from custom alerts related to your research as those alerts funnel into Google Reader. Visit this Google Docs Template for an example to work from.

A SSR journal entry worthy of full credit will consist of the following components:


Excerpt from self-selected reading (appr. 30-100 words)
The excerpt should appear in quotation marks, and it should include citation information (Title, Author, Publication, Date of Access, and URL)

Questions, ideas, response, and commentary, including a note about how you located the source (e.g., where you found it) (appr. 300-500 words)

The writing itself can be somewhat informal and provisional. While this format is not intended to be prohibitive or excessively strict, it is meant to get you accustomed to a note-keeping regimen that will run parallel to your researched project. This format is sometimes called "double-entry" because it consists of a selection (or excerpt) and your response to it. It might help to think of it as similar to a blog entry. Your comments should reflect a grasp of the reading, and the series of entries should reflect your active processes of discovery showing in some detail the ways you are collecting and annotating sources suited to enriching P2 or other aspects of research writing.

Keep your SSR Journal in one Google Docs file (again, please use the template as your guide), and share access to the file with me as I will be reading and commenting on selected entries at various points throughout the semester. We may, at times, also use the journals as a springboard for in-class discussions, and we may read each other's journals and comment them inside or outside of class.

SSR Journals will be considered adequately developed if they amount to at least 15 entries for the semester. You must have at least one entry for each week of the semester, and all major entries should follow the format shown above. Exceptional journals (A-B) will go above and beyond these requirements, reflecting distinction in matters of frequency, development, linkages to P2, or range of materials. Lower grades (C-D) will apply to journals that are infrequently produced or lacking in development or thoughtful responses to self-selected readings.

Contact Information

Derek N. Mueller, PhD
Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Writing
Director of Composition
Department of English
Virginia Tech
Office: 315 Shanks Hall
Spring 2020 Office Hours: T, 12-3
Phone: +1-734-985-0485

"Really, we should say 'worknet' instead of 'network'. It's the work, and the movement, and the flow, and the changes that should be stressed." —Bruno Latour, "A Dialogue on ANT"

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