emu onlinehalle librarygooglegoogle docswriting center

Course Syllabus - Fall 2010

Course Description

ENGL326: Research Writing (3 credits)
A course designed to explore the strategies, format and styles of writing appropriate for academic research with emphasis on the student's own field of study.

Course Overview

Whatever else it refers to, "research" connotes wonder, some spark of curiosity or intrigue that guides us along until we have found it out. If we understand research as incumbent upon wonder, ENGL326: Research Writing, then, is a class in curiosity-driven inquiry: in finding something out and reporting on it. Research writing is certainly subject to conventions, but at the earliest outset this semester, we will approach research writing first as an activity motivated by strategic investigations into some question or problem. This course will introduce you to selected research genres, conventions, and practices customary in your field of study. We will develop individualized topics of inquiry, or lines of investigation, as we explore issues impacting research-based composition and undertake related research activities: searching, reading, selecting, collecting, annotating, and, of course, drafting, revising, and revising again.

Course Goals for ENGL326

Course goals for ENGL326 include but are not limited to the following:

  1. Students will develop a working knowledge of the evolving, interdependent relationships among inquiry-driven research, disciplinary knowledge, claim making, and writing.
  2. Students will compose a series of texts as a process (inventing, drafting, revising, editing) that takes place over time, that requires thinking and rethinking ideas, and that addresses diverse audiences and rhetorical contexts.
  3. Students will gain experience with online databases, search engines, and library resources appropriate for academic research.
  4. Students will develop a critical facility for evaluating the quality of sources, print and online, according to recency, rigor, credibility, and authorship.
  5. Students will compose a substantial researched project in writing that reflects skillful, deliberative work with diverse sources and the systematic application of citation conventions.

Work of the Course

In the upcoming weeks, you will devote time, thought, and energy to a variety of informal and formal reading and writing activities and practices. During the course you may annotate readings, keep a record of ideas and responses, register observations, take notes on conversations held in or out of class, experiment with different styles, genres, and organizational choices, and engage in a variety of drafting and revision activities.

Our first project—an inquiry memo, or questions and problems statement—tasks you with exploring possible topics and focuses for the researched project. From the outset, you will also begin writing regularly in a Self-Selected Reading (SSR) Journal for similar purposes (to explore, to respond critically to sources). Using a double-entry format, you will keep a journal this semester in which you register notes, collect ideas/links/photos, and record responses to materials you locate by various methods we will explore together as a class. You will also select as evidence of your semester-long journaling particular entries to include in your P3.Portfolio. Another ongoing project this semester is called "Worknets." Worknets require you to begin with a key scholarly article in your field since 1980 and to trace the article through a series of relationships: semantics (keywords and phrases), bibliography (sources it cites), affinities (associations among the author and colleagues or collaborators, committee members, or graduate school cohort), and chora (or locative time-place coincidences). Visual maps of these worknets will accompany brief essays—inventories that summarize linkages you have identified and traced. Furthermore, worknets should serve a heuristic function, providing an aid to invention for the P2.Researched Project, a 10-12 page piece of researched writing you develop during the second half of the semester. At the end of the course, all students will assemble and submit a portfolio along with a reflective letter that comments upon your performance in the course, qualities of your work, and insights/lessons of particular value to you relative to your broader field of study.

While developing the major projects for ENGL326, we will read from the course text and from selected PDFs available to you for download in EMU Online (see Doc Sharing). Writing well depends upon reading well. Readings you collect and annotate during the first half of the semester will provide you with ideas and groundwork, meaningful examples that will support your work later on. Readings will also enlarge the context for our class discussions. And they illustrate choices other writers have made as they composed, particularly writing by integrating and reiterating the ideas previously explored by others. Writing and reading are interdependent, integral practices, and you will move between the two regularly throughout the course.

Course Texts and Materials

The Craft of Research

Booth, Wayne, Gregory Colomb, and Joseph Williams. The Craft of Research. 3rd Ed. Chicago: U Chicago P, 2008. ISBN 0-226-06566-9. (required)
Amazon.com | Half.com

This text is available at the EMU Bookstore in the Student Center.

Supplemental readings will be available to you as PDFs available via EMU Online (see Doc Sharing). You should download the PDFs for reading on the screen or, if you prefer, for printing and reading. Plan to spend as much as 20 USD on printing and photocopying over the course of the semester.


You will receive many different kinds of feedback to your writing during this course. Some responses will come from fellow students and some will come from me. All forms of feedback, including responses you receive from scheduling individual or group appointments in the University Writing Center or the Academic Projects Center, are important; they tell you in various ways how your readers are responding to your writing. This will also help you learn how to assess your own work.


The breakdown of graded items is as follows:

P1.Inquiry Memo, 10%, 10 points
P2.Researched Project, 30%, 30 points
P3.Final Portfolio: 10%, 10 points
Worknets, 20%, 20 points
SSR Journal, 15%, 15 points
Class participation, presence, and leadership: 15%^, 15 points

All work listed above will be assigned a letter grade corresponding to a 4.0 scale. Each of the numbered projects will be described fully in separate prompts that I will circulate at an appropriate time in the semester. All grades will be posted in the EMU Online (eCompanion) gradebook associated with this course. You must complete all major projects (i.e., P1, P2, P3) to be eligible for a passing grade in ENGL326.

^Participation, presence, and leadership will include shorter pieces of writing completed in class or as homework. Some shorter pieces may include note-card-length questions or comments, or reading quizzes.

Turning in Work

Google Docs
Unless otherwise specified, your writing in ENGL326 will be turned in via Google Docs. Your work will be commented and returned using the same platform. To submit a document for my review, select "Share," add my email address (derek.mueller@emich.edu) to the "Add People" box, and compose a brief message describing the assignment or posing any questions or concerns you would like for me to address directly. Make sure the permissions are set to "Can Edit," and click on "Share" in the bottom menu to complete the process.

File Naming
When you preparing to turn in your writing in Google Docs, adhere to the following conventions. Use the following naming formula: 326-FirstnameLastname-Assn. That is, your filenames should always include the course number, your last name, and the abbreviated name of the assignment, with a hyphen between each. For example, my own copy of Project One would be named 326-DerekMueller-P1, and my own SSR Journal would be named 326-DerekMueller-SSR.

Late Work
All work must be submitted before the start of class on the due date to be considered on time and therefore eligible for full credit. This policy applies whether or not you are in class on a given day. In other words, if you miss class, you are still responsible for meeting all related deadlines. Late work will be reduced by 10% (i.e., one full letter grade) for each day it is past due. Work submitted more than four days late will not be eligible for a passing grade except when you have informed me about the extenuating circumstances before the deadline and an official, documented cause is available.

Course Policies

Attendance and Participation

ENGL326 is a course in language learning, and language is learned in communities, usually by social interactions; therefore, it is essential that you attend class and participate in a manner respectful of differing learning styles and worldviews. Participation, involvement, and engagement with the activities of the class will be factored into your overall grade under the area of "class participation, presence, and leadership" listed above. Absences and lack of preparation for class will affect your classmates' work as well as your own. The work you do in and in preparation for each class is as important as the polished assignment you turn in for a project. In addition, our syllabus and schedule are only a projection and may be subject to occasional changes and revisions as it seems appropriate, necessary, or just interesting. That is another reason why your attendance is vital.

If you must miss a class, you are still responsible for all work assigned, including turning work in by stated deadlines. Please realize, however, that class time cannot be reconstructed or made up, and that your performance, your work, and your final course grade will be affected by absences. If you miss more than three class sessions without any official documented cause, your final course grade will be reduced by a full letter for absences four and five. If you miss the equivalent of three weeks of classes or more without any official documented cause, you will not be able to pass the course. I do not anticipate any of you will be in that position, however, and I would greatly prefer to see everyone become invested in the coursework, come to class, learn a lot, and make ENGL326 a meaningful experience.

We will meet this semester in McKenny 100. You may at times be tempted to use laptops or mobile devices for checking email or browsing the web. As a rule of thumb, I ask that your in-class uses of mobile devices (e.g., cell phones) and computers be focused on class-related activities. Obviously, you should silence your phones before coming to class. As long as everyone is respectfully attentive when someone is speaking, in-class technology use will not be a problem. In-class attentiveness, engagement, and preparedness (i.e., having read and prepared for each class) are what I mean by "presence."

Computer and Internet Usage

We will be interacting with a variety of sites on the internet during the course. Please let me know if you have not had any experience using a browser such as Firefox, Chrome, or Safari. When using a computer, save your work frequently, always make backup copies, and plan your projects with extra time allowed for unexpected challenges.

Much of the work you do for this class will be typewritten, using Google Docs or some combination of word processors before you eventually upload your writing into Google Docs for sharing. When turning in documents like this, please use an easily readable typeface, such as Times New Roman 12. Assign one inch margins and adhere to the page layout and documentation conventions appropriate for your field of study (APA, MLA, Chicago). Whatever the format of the assignment, I strongly urge you to plan ahead, to familiarize yourself with file formats and with the submission process, and to approach me with questions about submissions well in advance of the due dates.

Communication with Peers; Communication with the Instructor

While you can expect a fair amount of leadership and direction to come from me, you should also make arrangements early in the semester to communicate with your peers. In other words, you are strongly encouraged to identify one or two (perhaps more) peers in the class with whom you can discuss readings and assignments, work through questions brought up in the class, and approach when you find something unclear. In short, my hope is that we all will prefer climate in which dialogue and interaction runs between the instructor and students and also between and among students when questions come up. Finally, you should always be proactive about asking questions when you have them, either by raising questions during class or contacting me or one of your peers privately.


To communicate by email we will use our emich.edu accounts, accessible via mail.emich.edu. You can send email to me or to classmates via the EMU Online (eCompanion) site associated with this course. You may call and leave a phone message, but you will at times find it more effective to use email to contact me about your work in the course. You can also set up an appointment to meet with me on campus, or to ask a question. With rare exceptions, I will respond to all email inquiries within 48 hours.

Academic Integrity

Plagiarism occurs when a writer deliberately passes off another's words or ideas without acknowledging their source. For example, turning another's work as your own is plagiarism. If you plagiarize in this class, you will likely fail the assignment on which you are working and your case may be passed to the university for additional disciplinary action. Because of the design and nature of this course, it will take as much (or more) work for you to plagiarize in it than it will to actually complete the work of the class. For a more detailed explanation of Eastern Michigan University's stance on academic integrity, refer to Section V.A. of the Student Conduct Code.

Disability Resource Center (DRC)

If you have a documented disability that affects your work in this (or any other) class, the Disability Resource Center can provide support for you. It is my goal that this class be an accessible and welcoming experience for all students, including those with disabilities that may impact their learning in this class. If anyone believes they may have trouble participating or effectively demonstrating learning in this course, please meet with me (with or without a Disability Resource Center (DRC) accommodation letter) to discuss reasonable options or adjustments. During our conversation, I may suggest the possibility/necessity of your contacting the DRC (240 Student Center; 734-487-2470; swd_office@emich.edu) to talk about academic accommodations. You are welcome to talk to me at any point in the semester about such issues, but it is always best if we can talk at least one week prior to the need for any modifications.

Academic Projects Center

The Academic Projects Center is located in 116 Halle Library (487-0020, extension 2154). The Center is open M-Th from 11-5 and is staffed by University Writing Center consultants, Halle Librarians, and Information and Communications Technology staff who can help with writing, research, or technology needs. No appointment is necessary. When you visit the Academic Projects Center, be sure to bring a draft of what you're working on and your assignment sheet with you.

University Writing Center

The University Writing Center (115 Halle Library) offers one-to-one consulting for both undergraduate and graduate students. Students can make appointments or drop in between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Fridays. One-to-one consulting is also available in the Student Success Center in the First-Year Complex from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays. Students should bring a draft of what they’re working on and their assignment.

The UWC also offers small group workshops on various topics related to writing (e.g., Strategies for Successful College Reading; Peer Review; Revising and Editing Your Writing). Descriptions of all UWC workshops will be posted at www.emich.edu/english/writing-center by mid-September. Workshops are offered at various times Monday through Friday in the UWC. To register for a workshop, click the "Register" link from the UWC page.

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"

Creative Commons License
Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.