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ENC 1101 - College Composition I, Prof. Larson: Project 3

Project 3

Project 3: Multigenre Research Paper

Write a 1,000-to-1,500-word (4-6-page) essay that makes an original argument and that relies on relevant and credible evidence. Cite your sources in MLA style both within your essay and in a list of Works Cited at the end of your essay.

This essay is designed to teach students how to successfully manage a research project, specifically identifying a thesis to research, locating applicable research sources, managing and evaluating those research sources, and writing an acceptable research paper. Secondly, this project is designed to encourage students to become more proficient at thinking both critically and rhetorically about advertising and to become more aware at recognizing how this media shapes viewers’ responses to the outside world.

This research project will be a balance between the two types of research modes typically assigned by your future professors: assigned topics and invented topics.

  • Assigned topics: I will be requiring you to focus your attention on one particular area – the effectiveness of a specific advertising technique or the sociological effects of advertising. This will give you experience in dealing with a topic that you are both unfamiliar with and required to address.
  • Invented topic: I will be requiring you to select on your own the particular technique or effect that interests you. This will require you to examine the general field and decide which technique or effect appeals to you. This will give you experience in examining your own interests and curiosity and incorporating those interests into your academic work.

Advertisers use many recognizable techniques in order to better convince the public to buy or adopt a product, service, idea and/or belief. Secondly, advertising in general have many effects on viewers, some of them positive, some of them negative. Your goal in this assignment is to identify one of these techniques or effects, research how it works, and use two print/still advertisements as examples. As the power of advertising as a cultural and marketing force continues to grow, it is imperative that consumers understand the rhetorical techniques advertisers use to shape the public's attitude towards and desire for these commodities.

Understand that we will not discuss in detail the marketing strategies used by advertisers in class, nor will be discussing in detail the social effects, other than to briefly suggest ideas for locating them (for example: color, celebrity endorsement, and sexual imagery as technique – racism, sexism or negative body image as social issues). Research papers are designed to teach you how to teach yourself, using proper research methods and tools. You will learn these advertising methods or effects on your own.


Focus your research paper on answering one of the questions below:

  1. What makes a particular advertising technique so effective? (For example, “What makes celebrity endorsements so effective?)
  2. What evidence do companies use to justify spending so much money on print advertising?
  3. What specific damage to society does advertising do, and how exactly is advertising to blame?

Conduct a rhetorical analysis that evaluates two advertisements for their rhetorical elements. The two advertisements must fulfill one of these conditions:

  • Both ads are for the same product but were run at least five years apart (history).
  • Both ads are for the same product but were created for two very different cultures, geographical areas or audiences (such as American/European, American/Asian, male/female, gay/straight, rural/urban, etc).
  • The two ads are for competing products that occupy a similar market niche.


The assignment will be broken into the following six sections (300 points total):

  1. Abbreviated Research Proposal—the Abbreviated Research Proposal is designed to put you on the right track when producing your research project. Here you will identify your proposed thesis (a hypothesis that you intend to prove with evidence uncovered in your Final Research Paper) and locate at least five potential sources. (25 points)
  2. Proposed Outline and Intro Paragraph—the outline will organize your future essay, prioritizing your thoughts and simplifying the drafting process. Combined with the introduction paragraph (including thesis statement), this outline will allow me to evaluate your approach to the paper. (50 points)
  3. Annotated Bibliography—the Annotated Bibliography will organize your research to make the research project easier to handle and help you to understand your research sources. You will summarize and evaluate THREE scholarly sources. (75 points)
  4. First Draft Research Paper for Peer Review (3-5 pages)—the Research Papers will be formal essays in which you introduce your thesis, support your thesis in the body using evidence from academically sound sources, provide a conclusion, and produce a Works Cited page with at least 5 academically sound resources. Two sources may come from the assigned readings for Project 2; the other sources you must select on your own. (points combined with Peer Review grade)
  5. Peer Review—you will be placed in Peer Review groups of 3-4 people. Consider the draft goals as you review your peers’ work. Leave at least 3 substantial comments based on those draft goals. In order to participate in Peer Review, you must submit your First Draft. It is unfair to your peers if you do not review their drafts, so please prioritize this assignment. (50 points)
  6. Final Draft Research Paper (4-6 pages)—a final draft that you have revised based on your received Peer Reviews, my feedback on your Outline/Intro Paragraph and/or Annotated Bibliography, and your own careful re-reading and proofreading. (100 points)

Project 3 is worth 25% of your final grade.

Advertising Technique Possibilities

Advertisers use hundreds of techniques in order to sway viewers to buy or adopt their product. Below is a list of possible topics to research. (This list is by no means complete.)

· Celebrity endorsement (ethos—celebrity branding) · Narrative (storytelling)
· Color symbolism · Patriotism
· Emotional appeals (pathos—for example, fear) · Print techniques such as gaze, typography, framing or bleed techniques
· Family values · Sexual imagery
· Humor · Shock (pathos—startling or overtly offensive)
· Informative (logos) · Subliminal messaging
· Lifestyle or imitation · Testimonials (ethos)

Advertising in general can affect viewers’ behaviors and alter viewers’ perceptions of reality. Below is a list of possible topics to research. (This list is by no means complete.)

· Racism and ethnic stereotyping · Negative body issues
· Sexism or gender discrimination

· Negative health practices (obesity, smoking, alcoholism)

· Homophobia  

Research Requirements

Research sources may only come from the following locations:

  • Books carried by the Polk State College library (books from Polk County public libraries are acceptable but not encouraged).
  • Academic journal articles from the following PSC library databases (not every item in the databases is an academic journal article, so read carefully).
    • Academic OneFile (Gale)
    • Academic Search Complete (EBSCO)
    • CQ Researcher
    • JSTOR
  • A single Trade journal article from AdWeek, Advertising Age or the like. Students may only use one (1) article from this type of source. Secondly, students must seek my approval on the article. Some of these trade articles may not be useful, and I can help you determine that. (Trade journal articles are the only exception to the .com ban—See below.)

No .com, .org, or .edu websites are acceptable. You may use statistical data from .gov websites, but such evidence will not count towards your 5-source minimum.

If you cannot access the databases on the PSC Library website, contact the Library for help.

These restrictions are designed for a single purpose: to help you develop research skills using academic resources, an essential skill for college success.

Audience: For whom is the student writing?

Academic writing generally requires “objective” third person. Do not use first person (“I”) for this paper.

Generally speaking, avoid second person (“you”) always. Using “you” rather than stating exactly the person one means is sloppy essay writing.


Abbreviated Research Proposal

  • Clearly defined thesis (the “I intend to prove that…” statement)
  • Clearly identified advertisements to be compared
  • Clearly identified databases used to locate articles
  • Works Cited page in MLA format with at least 5 academically credible sources OTHER than the assigned readings from P2. (No .com websites other than those specifically used by advertisers such as AdWeek, Advertising Age or the like. This means no newspapers or news magazines.)
  • Images of the analyzed ads

Annotated Bibliography

  • Summary of three research articles to be used in the research paper.
  • Evaluations of the three summarized research articles.
  • MLA citations of the three articles, each citation above appropriate summary and evaluation
  • More details to follow; see Annotated Bibliography handout.

Outline and Introduction

  • Clearly defined outline (see Purdue Owl outlining)
  • Introduction paragraph with thesis highlighted or underlined
  • Support paragraph topics with indication of research sources to be used
  • Possible implications to be discussed in conclusion

The Research Paper

  • 1,000-to-1,500-word (4-6-page) in MLA format (do NOT count Works Cited as part of the word/page count)
  • Works Cited page in MLA format with at least 5 academically credible sources. (No .com websites other than those specifically used by advertisers such as AdWeek, Advertising Age or the like. This means no newspapers or news magazines. Up to two sources may be from the Project 2 assigned readings.)
  • Images of the analyzed ads

Project adapted from CR Junkins, John Nieves, Ryan Meehan, Joseph Moxley, & Donna Hanak

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