ISRM 400: Research Writing & Methodology

Instructor: Elgin K. Eckert - Ph.D., Ph.D.
Credits: 2
Prerequisite: Students must have junior standing at their home institution or permission of the Academic Director. This is a required course for all students enrolled in the Independent Research Track of the Honors Program.
Cross-Listing: English, Faculty-Directed Research Programs, Honors Courses

Course Description
This course is designed to familiarize students with the basic methods and techniques of research writing while also providing them a workshop setting and faculty support for an on-going project. It will focus on such issues as  developing a thesis statement, writing a prospectus, finding source material (books, articles, internet resources, etc.), generating an argument, writing and revising a rough draft, and MLA (or in some cases APA) documentation of sources.


To accomplish this goal, each student will write during the term a 15-20 page research paper. From the development of a thesis statement to the editing of the final draft, the student will compose this research paper under the direction of the course instructor and in consultation with other students in the class. Depending on the topic under development, the student may also work with a faculty advisor in the pertinent discipline—from Umbra or from his/her home institution. Students pursuing honors theses or independent research projects may develop more extended papers to fulfill individual requirements. The course is also available to creative writing students working on projects requiring extended research.


Course Objectives

  • To become familiar with the process of organizing and drafting a report that poses a significant problem and offers a convincing solution
  • To learn how to identify, track down and use a wide variety of sources in the service of responsible research and scholarship
  • To produce a paper using MLA documentation and manuscript form—polished enough to be publishable—and to become familiar with other formal (APA, Chicago style) documentation and manuscript styles.
  • To examine some of the best past and current writing by scholars.
  • To consider the life of scholarship and the discipline of formal scholarly communication as perceived by scholars (guest speakers)
  • To review the mechanics of writing and hone editorial and proof-reading skills
  • To develop evaluative strategies and vocabulary to best serve other writers in a workshop setting

Course Materials

Booth W., Colomb G. and Williams J., The Craft of Research, Second edition. Chicago: Chicago UP, 2003.
Secondary Readings:


Recommended Reading

Hacker, Diana and Barbara Fister, Research and Documentation in the Electronic Age, 5th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2010.
Hacker, Diana. A A Pocket Style Manual. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2011 (or an equivalent text covering basic grammar, punctuation, spelling, composition, etc.).