How should you prepare to write a research essay? The basis of any well-crafted essay is familiarity with the subject matter and clarity of intention/argument. In an effort to foster this, the Research Plan ensures you focus your research and directly address key research questions. The Research Plan is a document that indicates your proposed argument, main areas of investigation, and most importantly, your analysis of relevant films and your review of the key literature on the essay question selected (annotations on your primary and secondary research sources should account for the bulk of the word count). The Research Plan forms the basis for your Research Essay due week 12.
Address the following 6 points to prepare to write your Research Essay:
Selected Research Essay Question
Write the question in full. Read the question, read it again. What is it asking? Respond directly to this question and nothing else.
Your thesis is your argument – your particular response to the question. Depending on your approach you might not develop a thesis until after you have begun researching the question or perhaps your thesis will change as you spend more time with the topic. In any event, your entire Research Plan flows from your thesis. Your eventual essay title will be derived from your thesis. (1 to 2 sentences)
Proposed Scope of Research Essay
You can’t address everything regarding your topic – your final Research Essay is to be only 2,000 words. What are the boundaries of your argument? Articulate this in one or two sentences.
Proposed Structure and Main Points of Investigation
Based on your primary and secondary research, what are the most valid points that substantiate your argument. Sketch out a structure for your main points to follow. Your main points are the substance of your essay. Articulate each point with a sentence, not just one or two words. Show how the points you have chosen to write about substantiate your essay’s thesis. Be specific. Be conscious of a logical flow of ideas (consider how one main point follows the next) that address your thesis.
Annotated Filmography (Primary Research)
You are to watch a selection of films relevant to your topic (the Bond Film & Television Collection contains over 4,000 films), choose two or three from the films you have viewed and critically analyse aspects of their form and style using the Bordwell method that you will use as evidence for your argument/thesis. Ensure you take detailed screening notes during your viewing (it may be a good idea to have the textbook handy to help describe particular techniques), think about these observations and write up parts of your analysis that you feel are most relevant to your essay’s argument.
Annotated Bibliography (Secondary Research)
Review the written research literature on your topic. Write brief annotations on your chosen sources regarding ideas you will incorporate into your Research Essay.
You are to incorporate at least 5 scholarly/expert text sources in your essay. Determine who the leading experts on your chosen topic are and read their major sources. Ensure you select the most valid and appropriate sources to support your argument. The quality of your sources is a significant factor.
See for guidance for writing an annotated bibliography
See the reading list below for examples of academic sources on film style & genre:
Rick Altman. Film / Genre. London: BFI, 1999.
David Bordwell. The Way Hollywood Tells It: Story and Style in Modern Movies. Berkeley: University of California Press. 2006. (full-text online through library)
David Bordwell. Poetics of Cinema. London: Routledge, 2008.
Barry Keith Grant. Film Genre: From Iconography to Ideology. London: Wallflower Press, 2006.
Susan Haywood (ed.). Cinema Studies: The Key Concepts (3rd Ed.). London: Routledge, 2006.
Shilo T. McClean. Digital storytelling: The Narrative power of visual effects in film. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2007.
Steve Neal. Genre and Hollywood. London: Routledge, 2000.
Steve Neal (ed.). Genre and Contemporary Hollywood. London: BFI, 2002.
Kristin Thompson & David Bordwell. Film History: An Introduction (3rd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill, 2010.