ENGL 500, 2019, Class 4

Professional Skills for Today

How to ask for a letter of reference. See How to Ask for a Letter of Reference.

Writing a grant proposal: the Research Question. See “The Foolproof Grant Proposal Template” (Kelsky_GrantWritingTemplate) or comparable resources.

Research Questions …

Our main goal today is to turn areas of interest and topics into research questions. The relevant learning outcome is:

  • you will be able to articulate your own research question, warrant, claim, methodology, and evidence.

We are moving toward this learning outcome at the same time:

  • you will be able to recognize the research questions (implied or stated), warrants (implied or stated assumptions), main claims, methodologies, and types of evidence in a scholarly argument.

Have a look at my handout on Types of Research Questions in the Discipline of English: RQ_Types_2019.

See also my Research Question Generator. We’ll use this generator method in class.

… and answers

To answer your question, I recommend the Toulmin Model of Argument, as set out in Stephen Toulmin’s The Uses of Argument (1958). You don’t need to read the book; a Google search will take you to many summaries of the method (including an accessible summary at the Purdue Online Writing Lab [OWL] and a handy Wikipedia summary).

According to Toulmin, the parts of an argument are:

  • Claim (i.e., the answer to your research question; thesis; conclusion)
  • Ground (facts, examples, evidence)
  • Warrant (we’ll talk about the warrant more in class)
  • Backing (in our field, we do a literature review; we’ll talk more about the literature review next week)
  • Rebuttal (acknowledgement or anticipation of objections and counter-evidence)
  • Qualifier (indications of your degree of confidence about your claim; in our field, we often deal in possibilities rather than certainties)

What’s a claim?

What’s a warrant? See my handout (500_Warrants).

Ground: What kind of evidence do I cite and analyze? See the third section of my RQ handout: RQ_Types_2019.

Work with an Example

Codr, Dwight. “Arresting Monstrosity: Polio, Frankenstein, and the Horror Film.” PMLA 129.2 (2014): 171-187. [Direct link to PDF via UVic subscription.]

Find the research question, claim, warrant, and grounds in the first two pages of this essay.