Expository Writing 8.2: Designing Research Projects

Today’s plan:

  • The “default” final paper
  • Review Jenkins questions in Canvas
  • Time to write about Jenkins
  • Writing research with Wayne Booth
  • Homework

The “Default” Final Paper

We are half way through the class, and that means it is time to start seriously thinking about final papers. You’ll be writing for 4 more weeks, and during that time we’ll be reading Duffett’s work Understanding Fandom. I want you to begin formulating an idea for your final paper now so that you can be reflecting on it and developing it as you are working on your weekly writing.

This semester, the default final paper is an 1600 word essay [not counting works cited page] that uses your experiences writing online to reflect upon and evaluate contemporary academic attitudes toward fandom, specifically the work of Jenkins and Duffett. As such, you must be able to articulate what claims Jenkins and Duffett make as well as what agreements and disagreements they hold. You can then use your own reading, writing, and participating in a fan community as a way of assessing their perspectives. Along the way, you can consult the questions that we developed in class to help us further understand the fan community that you participated in and give us an argument as to whether this kind of fandom is “good” or “bad,” or what are the benefits and cautions of participating in this community.

I call this the “default” paper because I want to make it clear that you do not have to write this paper. You can write another paper, and I’ll be sharing Wayne Booth’s approach to research questions below to help you develop what that paper might be. Your paper might have something to do with fandom. Or it might not. You might develop something *for* your community–a resource that they need, for instance. You might take it upon yourself to write or edit Wikipedia pages (or other wiki pages) for your community, and then write some kind of reflection that argues for why these pages were necessary and the research that you did.

My goals/requirements for the final paper looks like this:

  1. The research is valuable to you. Or at least interesting.
  2. You draft and revise 1600 words.
  3. You make a claim. And then support it with evidence.
  4. You READ stuff on your topic and make it clear to your audience what you have read. This writing needs to be informed by both experience and research
  5. You situate this writing within the concerns, problems, etc. of a specific community (whether scholarly or social)


Looking through the thread on Canvas, I think the class did a nice job of producing a long list of questions that we can apply to fan communities. What isn’t there, that I think is necessary for writing the “default” paper, is a clearer characterization of how Jenkins perceives Internet fandom. So, what we want to do in class today is to go back over the Jenkins reading (both what we have done together and what you decided to do for today’s class) and identify claims that he makes regarding Internet fan culture. At the same time, we can identify arguments between scholars or fans (or between scholars and fans).

Your job, in the default paper, is to address the community of fan scholars (#7 above) in order to assess the value of Jenkins and Duffett’s scholarship (#6 above).


To save some paper, I emailed out a .pdf. I’ll be talking about the Booth in class.


Obviously, I would like you to continue your weekly writing. You should also decide at this time whether you want to write about Jenkins, Duffett, and fandom, or will explore another topic. Finally–let me suggest that you can change your topic at this point if you want to write about Jenkins and Duffett but realize your current project isn’t going to help you do that.

Finally, you should read Duffett’s introduction (1-34).

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