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University Library

Faculty Guide to Library Research Assignments

Cultural Studies Assignment

This research assignment has been divided into several sections. Note the following sections: 

  • Selecting a topic; 
  • Selecting resources; and
  • Taking notes

You can also review selected aspects of the research paper requirements:

  • Introduction;
  • Research question; 
  • Annotated bibliography; and
  • Conclusion

 

This assignment was created by an AUS International Studies professor.

Selecting a Topic

Select a topic. This could be a particular culture (ethnic group) you would like to know more about, e.g. (i) the population in a homogenous nation state, i.e. a country in which the entire population (or almost the entire population) shares the main aspects of the culture (language, family patterns, political/social system, religion, etc.);

or

(ii) an separate ethnic/cultural group or a tribe that lives in one or more nation states (for example, the Maasai people in Kenya/Tanzania or the Kurds in Iraq/Turkey/Syria). However, you could also decide to focus your investigation on the interaction of two cultures or a particular development in a given culture.

If you need ideas for a topic, browse through the textbook, consult the reference works listed at the end of this handout or our textbook, or explore the “cultural-anthropology section” in the AUS library (call numbers starting with GN…).

When selecting the topic, you want to make sure that it is researchable, i.e. that the AUS Library has the literature that enables you to write an analytical paper. Start by looking up the chosen culture(s)/countries in the reference works listed at the end of this handout. You may also consider supplementing the analysis with ethnographic research (if possible).

Selecting Resources

Make sure to consult all of the following resources:

(i) the reference works listed below;

(ii) the AUS Library Catalog; and

(iii) the databases (especially JSTOR and Academic Research Library) that are accessible via the AUS Library’s webpage.

When selecting scholarly articles, make sure that they provide information that you do not already have and make sure that you are not mistaking a book review for a journal article. Finally, pay attention to the publication date. New research is continually being published and it is important that the information you employ is up to date.

Taking Notes

Make detailed notes with exact references to the text throughout the research process. This will help you develop the annotated bibliography that must be submitted.

Detailed notes also save you time later because they enable you to retrieve a particular piece of information when developing the final version of the research paper.

Research Paper Requirements- The Introduction

A brief introduction to the topic you will be analyzing in your paper (who are the people/culture(s) you want to focus on? where do the live? how do they make a living? which language(s) do they speak? what religion(s) do they practice? what characterizes the family and kinship structure? etc.). This introduction cannot exceed 400 words. Develop (and edit) the text carefully in order to make the most of the 400 words and make sure to consult the relevant parts of our textbook.

Research Paper Requirements - The Research Question

A clear and concise research question and a brief explanation of why this question/problem is particularly interesting for a research paper in cultural anthropology (make sure to employ information from the textbook when developing this explanation).

Research Requirements - The Annotated Bibliography

An annotated bibliography provides an overview of the literature you will use for the research paper.The bibliography must contain the bibliographical details for at least eight resources (e.g. encyclopedia references, books, scholarly articles) you are planning to use.

Please provide this information in the APA or the Chicago formatting style (make sure the formatting is consistent; see http://library.aus.edu/ResearchHelp/CitingSources.htm for further details). 

In addition to the bibliographical details, an annotated bibliography contains brief summaries of the content of the books and articles that are listed. In the annotations, it is important that you explain how and why the particular book/article is useful in relation to your research question (i.e. the value of a given text will depend on its relation to your research question). Hence, in order to submit an annotated bibliography you have to read the literature; otherwise you cannot determine whether or not it is useful. And remember, for every ten books/articles you consider only one may be useful. This implies that it takes time to develop a useful bibliography. The annotations for each resource must be at least 50 words and no more than 200 words.

Research Requirements - The Conclusion

The conclusion may remind the reader of the significance of the problem you have explored. It should also recapture what you have discovered and address the implications of your analysis. Finally, the conclusion should of course be directly related to the research question you presented in the introduction.