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Research for Pop Culture Textual Analysis: An Example
English 101 Research: An example
It might be necessary to review what gets covered in the USC Upstate English 101 research tutorial...
Let's say I want to find some articles relevant to an essay about disability stereotypes in the Netflix series Daredevil, based on the Marvel Comics superhero of the same name. Here's what I know at the start of my research process:
- Daredevil, the character, is blind, but his other senses are heightened. He can hear and feel things with much greater sensitivity than non-super people can.
- The character was created some time in the 1960s and has appeared in comics, one movie (starring Ben Affleck), in Netflix shows, and probably in television cartoons (though I haven't seen those).
Step 1: Come up with search terms
I'll search library databases using various combinations of these terms:
- heightened senses
- marvel comics
Step 2: search library databases
Before I begin my searching here, I have to understand that not everything I find is going to be directly related to the Netflix show Daredevil in combination with disability stereotypes. For example, some of my results might be about blindness and the idea of heightened senses. Some of them might be about the Netflix show, but not about disability stereotypes. Some of them might be about the history of the character Daredevil in the comics. And some of them might be about disability and superhero. When I write my essay, it will be my responsibility to incorporate the sources that I find into my own writing. Remember that Chapter 1 of our textbook explains why we start with what others are saying. (Review the chapter and the associated slides, if you need to.)
Here are the steps I take:
- Go to "Composition I Research Guide for ENGL 101; Home"
- Select the "Finding Articles" tab
- Select "Academic OneFile"
- Searching: I try various searches such as these (and save the relevant results):
marvel comics disability
- I find exactly 1 article that is specifically about the show Daredevil on Netflix
- I find a few articles about superheroes and disability
- I find a few articles about comic books and disability
- If I don't find any results using my chosen search terms, then
- I would keep searching using different combinations of search terms,
- I would keep searching using different library article databases such as Academic Search Complete, Opposing Viewpoints in Context, Points of View Reference Center or newspaper databases such as Infotrac Newsstand or Newspaper Source Plus
- If I still don't find any results, then I need to consider changing my topic...
- Using the "save" and "export" functions provided by the Academic OneFile database, I save the research results to my hard drive (or flash drive)
- Don't know how to use the "save" and "export" functions? Consult the "Help" section of the database by clicking on the "More" menu in the upper righthand function.
Step 3: search the Web
- There is a huge amount of information on the World Wide Web, but a great deal of it is of poor quality.
- I do not want to cite poor quality information in my essay, so I have to use advanced search techniques to find only the best.
- Just about everyone knows that Google is most people's default search engine for searching the Web.
- The English 101 research LibGuide features a guide to "Web Searching" that includes links to valuable information about getting the most about of Google:
- Remembering that the assignment suggests searching the New York Times, I start there with these Google searches, using the search terms I came up with earlier and saving any results I think might be relevant:
site:nytimes.com daredevil netflix
site:nytimes.com superhero disability
site:nytimes.com "comic books" disability
site:nytimes.com disability stereotypes
- Next, I try the same set of Google searches at another resource suggested by the assignment -- Entertainment Weekly -- and saving any results I think might be relevant:
site:ew.com daredevil netflix
site:ew.com superhero disability
site:ew.com "comic books" disability
site:ew.com disability stereotypes
- I decide to repeat this process with a few other news and culture sites I sometimes visit: Variety, the Washington Post, Wired, Rolling Stone, Vice, io9...
- Finally, I use a trick that some students know about and some do not. Everyone knows you don't cite Wikipedia in an academic paper. But this trick works like this...
- Go to the "Daredevil (TV Series)" page on Wikipedia.
- Read over the information that I find there.
- Look specifically for the "Reception" section of the page.
- Take note of the sources that are cited in the "Reception" section.
- Go take a look at those sources to see if anything there is useful.
After all of these steps, I have close to 20 sources that may or may not be useful. It is my responsibility to learn what I can about my topic, and determine which 3 sources are the best and most appropriate ones to use in the assignment.
Step 4: read the sources that I found
- My goal in this step is not just to figure out how to incorporate these sources. Instead, my goals is to learn more about my topic.
Step 5: choose the 3 that are most appropriate for my annotated bibliography
- Which of the sources provide the most interesting or provocative information about my topic? Which ones do I want to disagree with? Which ones seem to be the best?
Step 6: write up an annotation for the 3 sources I found in Step 5
I take the 3 sources I've chosen and write my annotated bibliography.
An annotation does two things:
- It summarizes, and
- It evaluates.
Make sure that each of your annotations provides not only an adequate summary of what a particular source says but also a thoughtful assessment of the quality of that work.
- Is it timely?
- Is it biased?
- Does it leave out critical information?
Get to the point quickly. Do not write an overly long annotation. In your annotation, do not repeat such things as the name of the author, the name of the article, or the name of the publication: all of that information is already contained in MLA-style bibliographic entry. Identify the main point of the source and explain how that point is supported.