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iSearch Paper

Assignment: iSearch Paper

The iSearch paper demonstrates your ability to access sources and interpret meaning, organize your thoughts, analyze new knowledge and findings, form reasoned judgments/conclusions, and write effectively regarding what you have learned. It also allows you to acquire a greater depth of understanding on your chosen debatable issue.


  • 5-6 pages (1200 to 1500) words
  • 3-6 Sources
  • At least 1 image
  • MLA Citations and Works Cited
  • Debatable topic
  • Clear research question


For this assignment, think of yourself as an Investigative Reporter tasked with finding more in-depth information and learning about the issue. You can write in first person (“I”). Cite your sources in MLA and include a works cited after the essay. The essay consists of four parts: 1. What I know and what I want to know, 2. My research process, 3. What I learned, and 4. Sources.

You will be graded on two things: clarity of expression and critical thinking. The iSearch paper is a less formal research paper that is meant to demonstrate your thinking and research process. Use credible, reliable, authoritative, peer-reviewed sources for your research. Although the paper is a little less formal than a traditional essay, the tone should still be a serious one. As with all research projects, you should keep an open mind and be willing to change your mind as the research dictates.

Part 1: What I Know and What I Want to Know

Describe what you know about the debatable issue and why you are interested in it. Add any questions you have about it. Some guide questions for this part include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Why have I chosen this issue?
  • What do I already know about this issue?
  • What do I wonder about? What questions do I have? And on what particular question(s) do I want to focus?
  • What do I want to discover in order to answer my major question(s)? (You may want to refer to particular sources that “hooked” you in terms of interest or from which you have gained what knowledge you already have.)
  • Include any other questions about this part that you have not stated.

This section should be several paragraphs long (more is OK) and provide the reader with a clear sense of why you’re researching this issue, how it relates to your life (if at all), and what you hope to find out—and why.

Part 2: What my Research Process Was (characterize/describe it) & Why.

In this part you will describe your research “journey.” Some guide questions for this part include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • What steps did you take to complete your understanding of your issue and your response (analysis and conclusions) to it?
  • What sources did you find? What did you seek but could not find?
  • What new questions came up as you dove into your sources/research?
  • Which sources were helpful, and which were not (and why/why not)?
  • What frustrations did you encounter, if any, along the way?
  • What have learned, now, about the research process, in general?
  • What might you do differently, if anything at all, the next time you have a research assignment?
  • What part of this whole research process did you like best, and why?
  • What part of this whole research process did you like least, and why?
  • What part of this whole research process was the most difficult, and why?
  • Explain your research methods, including your use of specific sites/sources.

Include your reflections on your research journey.

  • Reflect on how you have developed during this process. Personalize your new learning and explain how it impacts your thinking on the topic. Perhaps address the following in your reflection:
  • What do I now know that I didn’t know before? What are the findings that mean the most to me—and why? What might I decide to do, or change, in my life as a result of my research?

In order to complete this section, you need to keep notes and log your work as you go along. This section should also be several paragraphs long (more is OK).

Part 3: What I Learned About My Debatable Issue in Conducting this Research

  • How might you sum up your debatable issue—including who the players are and what is at stake?
  • What was new that you learned along the way (about your issue, in general)?
  • What did you find amid your research that confirmed your own hunches/instincts about your issue in the first place—and, contrarily, what surprised you along your research journey?
  • What findings/conclusions have you made as a result of your research?
  • What questions do you still have?
  • Did you change your mind in any way as a result of your research?
  • Which sources were the most convincing for you—and why?

This section should be the longest part of this assignment and several paragraphs long (more is OK).

Part 4: Sources

This is your annotated bibliography, which is a works cited page with an additional paragraph for each entry.

See the annotated bib post for more. 

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