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ENG 101 - Popular Culture (Watts)

1. Getting Started

Exclamation PointFirst Things First - Assignment Requirements

Before you begin work on your research paper, examine the assignment closely for any requirements. 

Q. How long is the paper? 

The paper must be 5-6 pages long, not including the Works Cited page. You must have at least 7 paragraphs within the 5-6 pages.

Q. How many sources?

You will use at least 6 sources. 1 source will be your primary source (your pop culture artifact) and the other 5 will be outside sources.

Q. What kind of sources?

One source will be a primary source (your artifact or item of popular culture).

Three sources should come from the Library's databases or print sources. You may use all print sources.

Two sources may come from the internet and must be an article with an author and title.

Q. What should my sources cover?

Ms. Watts has specifically outlined what 5 of your outside sources should cover, in addition to a primary source:

Primary source 1: choose an artifact of pop culture to reference in your paper and serve as an example of popular culture.

Outside source 1: What is pop culture and why is it so popular?

Outside source 2: When did popular culture start and why?

Outside source 3: Compare/contrast pop culture of the past vs. the present. How has it changed?

Outside source 4: What genre is your pop culture item and what are its influences on society?

Outside source 5: Find an academic source that supports your argument about popular culture. (There are search tools in the databases which will filter your results to just academic journal articles).

After you have analyzed your primary source and secondary sources, you will discuss your pop culture choice and the impact it has/had on society and whether the impact was positive or negative.

Q. How do you cite sources?

You will use MLA format for your citations. You may want to remind yourself what information you need to create the MLA Works Cited page and in-text citations.

Q. What is due?

A paper and an Annotated Bibliography is due. Check your assignment for feedback and rough draft assignments will also be due before the final paper.  Make note of all the parts of the assignment and create a checklist to make sure you don't forget any part.

Q. When is it due?

How long do you have to work on this paper or project? Is there one due date for everything or are there multiple due dates for different parts of the assignment?  Plan out your time, so you don't get stuck doing all the work at the last minute. Plan extra time in case you have problems or get stuck.

Selecting a Topic

The first thing you need to do before you begin a research paper is to select a topic that you're going to write about. Consider the following:

Q. Do you have a choice?

You will be examining an instance of popular culture. This might be a television show, a magazine, a current event in sports, a trending video, etc. that is particularly popular with a certain demographic group.

Q. Do you have an interest?

What aspects of popular culture do you find most interesting?  Which topic do you think would be the easiest to write about? Which topic would you have the most to say about? The most common popular culture categories are: entertainment (movies, music, t.v.), sports, news (as in people/places in news), politics, fashion/clothes and technology. You may think of other categories.

Q. Are there sources?

Before you totally commit to a topic, you'll want to make sure that there are enough outside sources on the topic for your assignment. Not every topic is going to have information written about it. Newer topics or topics that aren't as well known may be harder to find sources for.  Do some searching in the library's databases to make sure there are sources, and Ask-A-Librarian to double-check if you're not sure there are enough sources for a topic you're really interested in.