334 Course Project
The course project is designed to give you a sense of the research process, from coming up with an idea to presenting your results (and possible conclusions). This semester the presentation will be in the form of a poster situated either in Dupre library or the hallways of H.L. Griffin, depending upon display space availability. This means your research will be public,
Work on the course project typically begins right at the mid-semester mark, with the development of a research proposal. Deadlines are below, but please note that you are always welcome to submit early, and often. Drafting is a feature, not a bug.
Each stage of the research process is a moment not only to discover for yourself what you find compelling about a topic or collection. That noted, interests wax and wane. There is nothing wrong with changing your topic between any stage of the research process, though given the short time frame the semester brings, it will mean having to catch up to where you are.
Finally, please keep in mind that any project must be based on a collection of examples. As a folklorist, I study anecdotes. Anecdotes are the stuff of life. They can even be objects of study. You just can’t work with anecdotal evidence, in the sense that a small number of examples —- sometimes only one – drawn from personal experience can serve as your data. It’s perfectly fine to let your personal experience draw you towards an object of study, but once you have established that object, you need to collect (and analyze) objectively and purposefully, not casually, anecdotally. The minimum number of examples for any project is 10.
The research proposal should be ~100 words and provide its audience with the materials to be considered and some idea of what makes them compelling to think about (and, later, to read about). References to scholarly/scientific examinations of similar materials makes for a stronger proposal.
The annotated bibliography should contain 4+ sources you find interesting and might use to help you think through your collection. (These should be in addition to anything we have read in class — hint: check the sources in those sources.)The sources should be cited correctly and each source should have a 25+ word rationale for why it is an appropriate source of theoretical, conceptual, or methodological information.
The collection description should give a clear and concise statement of the nature of the materials — what they all have in common — and from whence they were drawn. The description should include how the materials have been sourced and how they are currently being saved/stored. This should be as detailed and concrete as possible. An example is highly advisable.
The results of your research will be reported in a poster, which will be accompanied by a 3-5 minute presentation which you will give and after which you will answer questions from the audience. For this course, we will be using a modified poster template:
- The base layer will be a 28 x 22 poster, available almost anywhere, in landscape mode. This will allow you 6 letter-sized pages, which can be tiled to make two rows of three columns of pages. (When affixing the pages to the poster board, please make sure your work is neat.)
- The poster should be constructed with the following information: title, author, abstract, introduction, background (context), materials (and methods), discussion, conclusions, references. Typically, the title and author go across the entire top of the poster, but to keep things simple they need only be in the first (upper-left) tile. The tiling of pages on a poster are as follows:
------------- | 1 | 3 | 5 | ------------- | 2 | 4 | 6 | -------------
- This means that typically the Title, Author, and Abstract appear on Tile 1. The background (or context) for the study appears on Tile 2. The Methods, Materials, and Discussion appear on Tiles 3, 4, and 5 — space usage is flexible. Conclusions, if any, appear with References and any notes on Tile 6.
- Humanities posters typically carry more explanatory text than scientific posters, but they are still posters. Aim for a type face size of about 18 points for body text and then feel free to choose appropriate sizes for your title, your name, headings, and captions. Choose a readable type face and stick with it. If using a non-standard type face, please check with me.
- Prepare your tiles with an application that can handle separating pages well: PowerPoint set up to do 8.5 x 11 in portrait mode will work, as will either Pages or Keynote on a Mac. Word can be bent to this task, by insert page breaks, but please be careful that things stay where you want them to be. You will be turning in a 6-page PDF to me to grade. (FTR, a single-spaced page of 16-point Calibri or Helvetica can handle 300-350 words.)
Accompanying the poster will be a presentation 3-5 minutes in length. The presentation should provide the audience with the essentials: the scope of the research, the conclusions drawn, and how those conclusions were reached: what was the data, how was it examined, what additional materials or concepts were found to be necessary. (If you are unsure about how to present, there are an infinite number of TED talks, but also things like Scientific American’s 60-Second Science series, which is billed as a podcast, and thus depends upon audio, but episodes regularly feature visuals – usually just one, and it’s not a slide of bullet points but more often an image or a graph which is explained during the course of the episode. It’s a good model.)
For more on scientific posters, Ohio State University has a pressbook.