1. Select a topic from one of the three domains of everyday culture listed below.
o A genre of popular music that you are familiar with (country and western, rock, blues, hip-hop, rap, etc.)
o A recreational activity that you are regularly involved in (either as a participant or as a spectator, i.e., “fan”)
o A reality television program that you have access to and that interests you
o One of the new social media (e.g., Twitter or Facebook)
2. Participate in the following three library tutorials.
o AU Library Tour
o AU Library Catalogue Tutorial
o AU Journal Title List Tutorial
After you have completed the tutorials, search for materials on your selected topic.
3. Discuss your choice in a critical essay which includes:
o A clear thesis backed by supporting argumentation.
o A minimum of 5 peer-reviewed scholarly sources from outside of the course materials, which are referenced in the body of the paper and listed in a properly formatted bibliography or works cited page.
o Good critical analysis of the topic.
Tips on Writing Essays
Take notes as you read through the course materials, and if you have any questions about the material under discussion, be sure to contact your tutor. Use the study questions that accompany the required reading assignments to help you focus on important themes and issues.
Collecting relevant information is often the first step in the process of writing an essay. Information is available in a variety of sources and discovering these resources can be exciting. The following is a brief guide on how to approach and use search engines to do your research.
A search strategy is simply the combination of the words you use to conduct your search.
While there are different ways of constructing search strategies, the most common methods use AND, OR, and NOT. These terms are called Boolean operators. Following is an explanation of what each search term will do:
AND: The database will find all terms connected by AND (inclusive) e.g., concept one AND concept two. Both concepts will be represented in each item in the results list
OR: The database will find either or all of the terms connected by OR (inclusive) e.g., concept one OR concept two, OR both concept one and concept two
NOT: The database will find the first term, but NOT the second term (exclusive) e.g., concept one NOT concept two
A word of caution about NOT: If the second concept appears even once in an article, the item will not be retrieved. You can eliminate some very useful items by using NOT, so be careful!
An Information-gathering procedure
1. Before you begin to search, review the parameters of your assignment to determine exactly what you are looking for.
2. Try breaking your topic down into several key concepts. As you look for information, use these key concepts as your search terms.
3. Once you have identified your key concepts, think of synonyms for these words. What other terms could be used to describe the concept? These terms may also be helpful in constructing your search strategy.
4. Are there any parameters that restrict the information you are seeking (e.g., a specific location, or a certain time period such as the last five years)?
5. Does your assignment specify the types of sources you are required to use ( e.g., books, journal articles, and so on)?
6. Consider the different places that will provide you with the information you need to complete your assignment. For instance, the AU Library has a substantial collection of online resources, both e-books and journal articles.