Research Prospectus and Reflective Bibliography


Defining a term, such as academic writing, is one of the cornerstone activities of higher education. Instructors spend considerable time going over terms and asking students to learn them, particularly in beginning courses. Students can find defining terms to be complicated and challenging, in part because there is no agreed upon definition. There are many different opinions and each makes a strong case for itself. Academic writing is a term where there are many different opinions, and all can make a strong case for their definition.

The purpose of this semester-long activity is to have you join in the conversation about academic writing, and let you define, along with a collection of outside sources, what you believe academic writing is for you at this time. You will rely both on your own experiences and understandings as well as the information from outside sources to write an essay that communicates to writing faculty, like your instructor, what you are thinking now.

Prior to starting the essay, you will complete the Research Prospectus and Reflective Bibliography. By doing so, you will complete the vast amount of research you will need for the essay. The research will ask you to read and engage with a variety of different types of sources that will help prepare you for future academic work. In addition, beginning here will allow the class focus to explore strategies for academic reading. Reading for college classes can be very different than reading for high school. The strategies we will explore will help raise your literacy level and make you a more effective reader and writer.

Reflective Bibliography Sources

We will explore one of these sources a week in the order they are listed here. For details about when each entry is due, see the class agendas.

Writing the Reflective Bibliography

  • Begin the entry with a complete citation for the source using MLA 8th ed. guidelines.
  • The first paragraph will provide a summary of the source. Identify the main arguments of the source and what its main point or purpose seems to be. Note the topics that the source covers by providing a list of keywords. If someone were to ask you about the source, how would you describe it to that person in a few sentences? 
  • The second paragraph will provide an evaluation or assessment of the source.  Does the information seem reliable and credible? What is the writer’s position or point of view? Who is the audience for this source? How useful is the source to your definition of academic writing? How will you use this source in your essay?
  • The third paragraph will offer a reflection on the source and how it impacts your thinking on the topic of academic writing. How is the source helpful in providing a better understanding of your topic? Does it shed light on a new or valuable perspective about academic writing? How does it help you shape your own perspective/argument on the topic or the direction of your research or writing?

All work on the Reflective Bibliography must be on a Google Doc in the shared folder, Research Prospectus and Reflective Bibliography.

Writing the Research Prospectus

Students compose a two-page research prospectus that emerges from their research process and the feedback they have received from the instructor and their classmates.

Some questions to help you draft the Research Prospectus:

  • How has your research expanded your understanding of the topic?
  • How has your research helped you to narrow and focus your topic for your upcoming essay?
  • What additional research, if any, do you think you need for the upcoming essay?
  • What have you learned about research in general through the process of putting together the RP&RB?
  • What have you learned about annotating and citing sources from your RP&RB experience?
  • How do you think the RP&RB experience will inform your experience when you have to write a researched essay in the future?

Research Prospectus and Reflective Bibliography due Week 6


        • Classroom instructors evaluate submissions using four-point rubric
          • (4 Points) – Timeliness (of all components throughout the module)
          • (4 Points) – Quality of Sources (meet expectations defined above, properly formatted citations)
          • (4 Points) – Quality of Annotations (all components complete, thorough, thoughtful)
          • (4 Points) – Qualifies to be submitted to Scoring Team
            • regular attendance
            • regular participation in relevant face to face and online activities (peer review, discussion boards, etc.)
            • meets draft deadlines

Research Progress Rubric

Submissions are read by the composition team for discussion and to compose collective, reflective responses on our observations and recommendations for students’ research essays at the end of the semester.