Undergraduate Research Blog #1

The title of my research project I am pursuing with Professor Kristen di Gennaro is called “Citations as Rhetorical Acts: Student and Faculty Perceptions on Citations.” The purpose of the project is to analyze how students and faculty members view citations; often, there is a very big difference between the two parties’ insights. As a part of a discourse community, professors understand the process of citations to be an ongoing conversation between fellow scholars in that community; however, students have a tendency to see citations as merely an arbitrary set of rules to be followed. Citations serve a rhetorical purpose; the goal of our project is to build a bridge between student misconception and faculty understanding so that students can better approach their discourse communities.

I began to read secondary sources for my project in the summer and was very eager to start gathering information; I’ve never performed such concentrated research before and I quickly began to dissect the dense language of scholarly texts. I felt as though I was a legitimate researcher when I began, what with the amount of responsibility, time, and information I had to balance. By the time the school year began, I’d gotten a fair head start on the preliminary steps of our research.

As Professor di Gennaro is working with two other students, she has us meet biweekly to discuss our methods and any questions we have regarding the process. At first, I was hesitant to meet in a group setting and insisted that, as we are pursuing individual topics, we would have nothing to share with each other. Now, I look forward to these meetings because we provide insight and give each other advice on how to navigate difficulties with ease.

I have a long document of notes from all the studies I have read, and now it is time to dissect them to form survey questions. In addition to surveys we will be using think-aloud protocols as a follow-up. I want to learn how to approach a topic in a truly objective manner, to step back and let the results take precedent over any overarching hypotheses I have.