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GRAD 5124: English Language & Literature Research Skills Syllabus


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Syllabus developed for required English graduate course, Fall 2011.

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GRAD 5124: English Language & Literature Research Skills Syllabus

  1. 1. GRAD 5124 English Language and Literature Research Skills Fall 2011Class InformationAugust 22-December 4, 2011ONLINE: Course is available via Scholar: InformationRebecca K. Miller, MSLSOffice: 5004 Newman LibraryOffice Hours: By appointmentContact:; 540-231-9669What is research? “[research is] a social, collaborative act that draws on and contributes to thework of a community that cares about a given body of knowledge…by the social definition ofresearch, the solitary researcher is not at all solitary: the sense of what can and should be doneis derived from the knowledge community…his/her work of discovery is impossible withoutcontinuous recovery of the work of others in the community.”Bizzell, Patricia and Bruce Herzberg. “Research as a Social Act.” The Clearing House 60 (March1987): 304.Course Description & RelevancyThis course is intended to guide you to the resources appropriate to their research and thesearch strategies needed to access the information. Moreover, I hope that this course willinspire you to see research as a scholarly conversation among peers. Although this one-hourrequired course is pass/fail, you will be expected to participate in the activities and assignmentswithin each module.This course has been designed with two concepts in mind: (1) that it should address thestandards and guidelines for English disciplines, set forth by the Association of College andResearch Libraries (see readings, Module 1), and (2) that it should complement and support theresearch you will work on in your ENGL 5014 course. You’ll notice that the topics covered inGRAD 5124 and ENGL 5014 are very similar, and that we sometimes are discussing the samething at the same time. Use this to your advantage, and really give some thought to the waythese two different courses complement each other. This may be helpful for you when you startto write your blog posts for participation credit.Course ObjectivesAt the end of this course, students will:  Recognize and discuss the structure of information within the field of literary research  Identify, select, and use key literary research tools to locate relevant information  Create effective search strategies and modify them as needed 1
  2. 2.  Recognize that some information sources are more authoritative than others, and demonstrate critical thinking while evaluating information  Recognize and discuss the technical and ethical issues involved in writing research essays  Locate and/or discover information about the literary profession  Use technology tools to collaboratively create a reference sourceCourse PrerequisitesAll students enrolled in this course must be enrolled as graduate students within the VirginiaTech Department of English.Course CommunicationIn a way, this course focuses quite a lot on communication: the different ways researcherscommunicate, and how scholarship is really a unique form of communication. However, in thiscourse, we will use a few more prosaic methods of communication.  Scholar: I will post announcements, links, and help sheets within the GRAD 5124 Scholar site. Be sure to regularly log into this site to make sure you don’t miss anything or fall behind on the modules.  Email: I will communicate with you using your Virginia Tech email address. Any emails that you send to me will be answered within 48 hours, unless it’s weekend email. Weekend email will be answered by 5 p.m. on Monday. Please don’t expect for late- night emails to be answered immediately; they will most likely be answered sometime after 8 a.m. the next day.  In-person: Although this is an online class, many students find it helpful to have several option in-person sessions. This semester, I have included two supplementary, in-person options. However, if you are unable to make it to these sessions, or need more sessions, please do NOT hesitate to contact me. I am more than willing to set up a one- on-one session with you and go over any questions or concerns that you may have.  Blog: When you read about the Participation requirement of this course, you will note that we are using a class blog to facilitate conversation. You will be required to post at least 8 times to this blog, and you’ll see the timeline for these blog posts listed within the schedule of topics at the end of this syllabus. More information about this will be discussed under “Participation” on p. 4 of this syllabus.TextsRequired: None. All assigned readings will be provided via Scholar, the World Wide Web, orelectronic reserves. A full bibliography of course readings is posted in Scholar in the“Resources” folder, within the “Course Readings Help” subfolder.Recommended: If you like what we read, and decide that you’d like to add some of these textsto your personal professional library, here are some full citations:  Correa, Delia Da Sousa and W. R. Owens. The Handbook of Literary Research. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge, 2010. Print.  Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 2009. Print.  Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 2008. Print. 2
  3. 3.  Harner, James L. Literary Research Guide: An Annotated Listing of Reference Sources in English Literary Studies. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 2008. Print.Course/Technology RequirementsThis course will be delivered entirely through Scholar. This course includes a total of 14modules, and each module has been designed uniformly, so that you always know what toexpect. Each module begins with a “module at a glance” so that you have a complete overviewof the lesson and a checklist of activities you need to complete. Due dates are listed in bold atthe top of each module at a glance.Required Software: You should be able to use standard word processing, navigate standard webbrowsers (Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer), install plug-ins and java when necessary.Minimum Technical Skills: You will need broadband access to the Internet, Adobe AcrobatReader, Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and the ability to access movie clips and podcasts. A Flashplayer will also be needed. You can download free versions of these software:  Adobe Reader (  Flash ( other technologies or technology skills not listed here will be addressed through classinstruction (e.g., wiki and blog software).On Campus Computer LabsIF you are experiencing any sort of technical issues, you may want to know where you can findfunctioning computers and internet access. A list of all the software available in on-campuscomputer labs is available: PoliciesGrades: This is a pass/fail course. All class assignments will detail points, which will be awardedaccording to a rubric. For individual assignments AND the final course grade, any scores above70% will be considered passing; likewise, any score below 70% will be considered failing. Youwill be given multiple chances to resubmit corrected assignments if the original score is below80%. All assignments will be posted with the total number of points possible, along with therubric that will be used for assessing the assignment.Incompletes: Incompletes in this course are grated only in extremely rare circumstances. Pleasedo everything you can to stay on top of this course throughout the semester.Late assignments: Late or missed assignments will only be accepted for full credit underdocumented, extenuating circumstances, which may include:  Illness or injury: you will need to provide a health professional’s note for documentation  Death: you will need to provide an obituary, funeral program, or death certificate for documentation  Other emergency: you will need to provide any appropriate documentationLate or missed assignments that do not fall within this description will not be accepted. If yourealize that you need more time to complete a particular assignment, you will automatically be 3
  4. 4. granted an extension as long as you contact the instructor BEFORE the assignment’s due date.Contacting the instructor the same day that an assignment is due will not result in an extension. Course Participation (worth a total of 80 points) Since this is an online course, you will need to participate in discussions with your community of fellow scholars through the class blog. During the course of the semester, you will write at least 8 blog posts that meet the standards described in the rubric posted within the “Class Blog (Participation) Help” subfolder, located within the “Resources” folder in the Scholar site. The blog is available: Please refer to the “Class Blog (Participation) Help” subfolder, located within the “Resources” folder in the Scholar site for instructions on (1) creating an account and (2) posting to this blog. Weekly Assignments (worth a total of 140 points) Each week, there will be one assignment associated with the material that we cover in each module. The assignment might be a quiz or something more creative. Since there are 14 modules, assignments associated with the modules will always add up to 10 points per module; each assignment will be described within the module it is associated with. Final Project (worth a total of 150 points) Your final project will ultimately consist of your contributions to a class wiki, created with PBWorks software. The full details of this final project are outlined in the “Class Wiki (Final Project) Help” subfolder, located within the “Resources” folder in the Scholar site. The wiki is available: Please refer to the “Class Wiki (Final Project) Help” subfolder, located within the “Resources” folder in the Scholar site for details on (1) creating an account for the wiki and (2) editing the wiki. Extra Credit You have the opportunity to gain extra credit by going above and beyond the requirements for your course participation and your final project. You can earn up to 5 points of extra credit per extra blog post and extra annotated bibliography item. That means that your 9th blog post could earn 5 extra credit points, as could your 11th annotated bibliography item added to the wiki. These items will be assessed according to the original rubrics posted for these activities.If you’ve been adding everything up, then you know all of the work in this course couldpotentially equal 370 points. In order to pass this course, you would need to earn a total of 259points.Instructor ErrorIt is always possible that there will be problems with an assignment or lesson because ofinstructor error. If this is the case, it is your responsibility to report the problem immediately,and BEFORE the assignment is due. This means that you should look over each module before 4
  5. 5. its due date; when errors are discovered, the instructor will let everyone know, and thenproceed from there. No one will ever be penalized because of instructor error.Technical DifficultiesOne characteristic of an information literate student is the ability to deal with the potentialfailure of technology! Much of this course relies on Scholar, the Internet, and othertechnologies. This means that you may very well encounter problems that are due neither tostudent nor to instructor error. If you experience technical difficulties, please report your issuesas soon as possible so that I can work with you to resolve them. Additionally, it’s always smartto save, back up, or print whatever you may be working on, just in case!Disability ServicesIf you have a disability that may have some impact on your work for this class and for which youmay require accommodations, please contact Services for Students with Disabilities. All contactand location information is available: After you receive youraccommodation letter, please contact the instructor to discuss your options as soon as possible.Virginia Tech Honor CodeThe Honor Code is the University policy which expressly forbids the following academicviolations: 1. Cheating -- Cheating includes the actual giving or receiving of any unauthorized aid or assistance or the actual giving or receiving of any unfair advantage on any form of academic work, or attempts thereof. 2. Plagiarism -- Plagiarism includes the copying of the language, structure, ideas and/or thoughts of another and passing off same as ones own, original work, or attempts thereof. 3. Falsification -- Falsification includes the statement of any untruth, either verbally or in writing, with respect to any circumstances relevant to ones academic work, or attempts thereof. Such acts include, but are not limited to, the forgery of official signatures, tampering with official records, fraudulently adding or deleting information on academic documents such as add/drop requests, or fraudulently changing an examination or other academic work after the testing period or due date of the assignment.Therefore, the student body at Virginia Tech will not tolerate any violation of the Honor Code.All students, upon admission to this University, have pledged to abide by the Honor Code. Anystudent found by the appropriate forum within the Honor System to have violated the HonorCode shall be deemed guilty as charged.The Graduate Honor SystemRead a full overview of the Graduate Honor System here: Honor System Pledge: [signed by each student on the Graduate AdmissionsApplication]I certify that all the information given on this application is true and correct. I will abide by rulesand regulations of the university. I will accept responsibility of the Honor Code of the university. 5
  6. 6. I pledge I will not lie or cheat. I understand violation of the Graduate Honor Code may result insevere penalties, including dismissal from the university.Tentative Course CalendarThis schedule of topics is subject to change, and may be adjusted as the course progresses;however, you will be notified of any changes with appropriate advance notice.The course week always begins on Monday at 12:00 a.m., and ends at 11:55 p.m. the nextSunday night. You will be responsible for viewing all the posted lessons, and completing all theposted readings, participation activities, and assignments by 11:55 p.m. on the date indicated inthe course schedule below. In order to help you focus on the week at hand, each module willonly open two weeks in advance of its deadline. For example, when you start this course, youwill be able to see Modules 1 and 2. On August 29, then Module 3 will open, and so forth.Major Dates:8/22: CLASS BEGINS11/13: FINAL PROJECT DUE (All wiki contributions must be complete)12/4: CLASS ENDSFollow Modules 1-14 for everything elseWeek 1: August 22-August 28Module 1: Welcome, Course Overview, and EthicsWeek 2: August 29-September 4 (Blog Post 1 DUE)Module 2: Overview of the Literary Researcher’s Toolbox, or, How Information is Organized &SearchedThere will be two opportunities for in-person library tours this week. I will send out a Doodlepoll during Week 1 to determine the best times for the most people.Week 3: September 5-September 11 (Blog Post 2 DUE)Module 3: Participating in Scholarly and Creative CommunicationWeek 4: September 12-September 18Module 4: Tools, Part 1: Books and Special CollectionsWeek 5: September 19-September 25 (Blog Post 3 DUE)Module 5: Tools, Part 2: PeriodicalsWeek 6: September 26-October 2Module 6: Bibliographic ManagementThere will be two opportunities for in-person sessions regarding bibliographic managementtools Zotero and EndNote this week. I will send out a Doodle poll during Week 5 to determinethe best times for the most people.Week 7: October 3-October 9 (Blog Post 4 DUE)Module 7: Tools, Part 3: Literary Databases 6
  7. 7. Week 8: October 10-October 16Module 8: Tools, Part 4: Related DatabasesWeek 9: October 17-October 23 (Blog Post 5 DUE)Module 9: Tools, Part 5: Digital Archives and Other InitiativesWeek 10: October 24-October 30Module 10: Teaching & PedagogyWeek 11: October 31-November 6 (Blog Post 6 DUE)Module 11: Theses & DissertationsWeek 12: November 7-November 13 (Final Project DUE)Module 12: Your Digital Life, Part 1: Organizational ToolsPlease note that your FINAL PROJECT is DUE this week, which may seem a bit early. Why soearly? The rough draft of your bibliographic essay for ENGL 5014 is due on November 17. Youshould definitely have at least 10 sources selected at this point, and adding them to the wiki willgive me and your classmates some time to give you feedback before your final draft is due in afew weeks.Week 13: November 14-November 20 (Blog Post 7 DUE)Module 13: Your Digital Life, Part 2: Participating in Your Professional CommunityWeek 14: November 21-November 27Virginia Tech’s Thanksgiving BreakNothing due this week: enjoy your break!Week 15: November 28-December 4 (Blog Post 8 DUE)Module 14: Copyright and Fair Use in Writing & TeachingCourse work officially ends after you complete Module 14Week 15: December 5-December 11Please consult me if you need any help or support in completing research or assignments foryour other courses! 7