What is an I-Search Paper?
An I-Search Paper helps you learn the nature of searching and discovery on a chosen topic. Your goal is to pay attention, track this exploration, and LEARN HOW YOU LEARN so that you can repeat the process in other courses. The I-Search Paper should be the story of your search process, including chronological reflections on the phases of research in a narrative form. The I is for YOU. It's the story of YOUR search and what you learned.
In Visual Culture, the I Search Paper is your Signature Assignment
Here is the prompt for what you are researching: The study of visual culture is blurring the boundaries between art and design and traditional and new media. Based upon your interests, identify, explore, and discuss a particular issue or question that excites or concerns you about this evolving discipline. Your I Search paper is going to be the record of what you discover, how you discover it , and how this affected or changed your thinking.
To begin the I-search paper make sure that you understand the terms and assumptions that are embedded within the prompt. As you begin to consider the questions listed below, keep a record of your thought process. This will become part of your I-Search story.
These are some questions that might help you narrow your search.
- What is art? What is fine art? What is design? What is visual culture?
- What is new media?
- Can anything be art? Who decides when something is art?
- What does aesthetics mean? What is a canon? Who/what do canons include or exclude?
- How do priorities like race, ethnicity, gender, politics, religion, class affect how people make, use, and view art/design/visual culture?
- What are your priorities as a future maker and how do those priorities influence your position on art, design, and visual culture?
Remember, you are not looking for “the answer.” You are not writing a report. You are investigating a topic in an attempt to learn something new about where and how it is discussed in print and other media. In fact, given the personal nature of this paper, your conclusion might offer reflections on what you learned about the topic and about researching.
- Start with the Databases that are provided for you through the Library website. Art Source is arguably the best for this course. Try it!
- Keep track of the actual search terms and specific databases you used and how you modified your strategy as you went along. (See Beginning Your Research). You will include those details in your paper.
- Analyze the results. How many hits did you get? Say how and why you modified your search strategy to get more or less. What did you learn about each database that you tried?
- Include actual facts and theories that you discovered about your topic as well as idiosyncratic information such as what surprised you. You could say what you already knew about the topic before beginning the research and how what you knew about that topic may have changed during the research process.
- If you have trouble finding relevant articles or books in the Library, ask a librarian. They have Master's Degrees in research, are more discerning than search engines. Plus, they are happy to assist!
- You will then create a bibliography of at least 2 sources (books and/or journal articles) that MUST be found through the Otis databases and/or the OPAC (book catalog). You may also include websites if you used them, but those will be in addition to the 2.
- You must annotate and evaluate the sources in the bibliography. Remember, the annotations must include the credentials of the author and the type of information (scholarly, popular, etc.), and the intented autience of the publication. (See Sample Annotations, CRAAP Detection and Types of Information.
Remember that research is a creative process. Use your creative thinking skills in the research process. Explore widely, question, learn, and keep revising your strategy as needed.