Shelley Reid .


Honors 110.005:  Introduction to Research

Professor Shelley Reid

Class Assignments Class Schedule Folder Assignments

Fall 2005 Meetings:

Tuesday/Thursday, 1:30-2:45, IN 133

Friday Lectures (see schedule) 10:30-11:30, IN 105




Robinson A420

Office Hours: 

Monday 11-2, Tuesday 3-5, Thursday 12-1, and by appointment

Office Phone:


Teaching Assistant:  Brian Heston, Robinson A 468, Tuesday 11-12, Wednesday 1-2, Friday 9:30-10:15.

Course Goals

HNRS 110 introduces students to basic research and writing skills that will be required in every course in the curriculum.  It is built on the idea that research and writing are reflexive, thought-intensive, discovery-focused, interwoven processes that happen to lead to final products—rather than being only the products themselves (as in the dreaded "Research Paper"). The readings and assignments are designed to lead you through this process by giving you practice in the various stages of researching, drafting, and revising a research essay.  This course addresses such questions as how to select a suitable problem or question, how to formulate an argument or thesis, how to find and select evidence to support the argument, how to organize ideas into a coherent essay, and how to make your own discoveries come clearly and persuasively alive for other readers.

Textbooks and Materials 

Textbook:  The core text is by Booth, Colomb, and Williams, The Craft of Research, second edition.  It is available for purchase in the GMU bookstore.

WebCT:  This section of Honors 110 has a WebCT component; you will need to log in to WebCT ( to complete some readings and assignments.

Readings: Additional readings will be made available to you online through the GMU Library Databases and through Mason's E-Reserves (, under Prof. Jann's name (see WebCT or your in-class notes for the E-Reserves password).

Required Software: Endnote bibliographic management software is available free by download at or for minimal cost on CD through the Johnson Center computer store.

Materials:  Please acquire at least three basic pocket-folders to use when submitting your assignments.  You will also need a disk, flash drive, or CD-R to use in the labs and computer classrooms.  You must activate your GMU email account and use it for all class correspondence.

Course objectives

  • To help you learn to analyze the rhetorical situation -- the purpose for writing, and the needs/expectations of your audience -- of a writing task and to apply a range of strategies to respond to that situation
  • To help you learn the methods, materials, and practices of research and writing appropriate to university-level academic discourse
  • To familiarize you with how researchers in different fields create arguments, apply evidence, and present their findings
  • To help you improve your ability to actively read and critically evaluate sources of information
  • To help you develop and integrate strategies for a wide range of research- and writing-related tasks, including evaluation of print and online sources, interpretation of non-textual evidence, and careful management of information
  • To discuss the ethical issues associated with research and writing
  • To give you experience in considering larger audiences and purposes as you create and polish the written and oral presentation of your research findings
  • To give you opportunities to reflect on, better understand, and gain more control of your own writing processes, from posing initial questions through drafting, revising, and editing your writing

Methods of Instruction

Most class sessions of English 110 will be interactive and will involve a significant amount of student discussion and writing.  Students may be asked to work individually as well as collaboratively as they investigate issues, practice writing strategies and techniques, learn research and critical reading approaches, and review their own and their peers' writing.  Students who attend regularly and stay engaged in class activities, who keep up with all of the assignments, and who block off sufficient time each week for thoughtful drafting and revising usually succeed in this class.

General Course Requirements and Grading Percentages


Museum Assignment


Research Log


Research Proposal


Website Analysis


Source Analysis


Research Paper


Oral Report


Supplemental Assignments

Completion Policy

You must complete all major assignments (those worth 10% or more) to earn a "C" or higher.

Folder Assignments

Because learning how to write is as important as producing strong writing at the end of the process, in addition to earning credit for the assignments themselves, you will frequently earn points based upon your efforts in the drafting process, for the assignments (homework and in-class) that lead up to the essay drafts, for reflective analyses of your own essays, and for the assistance you give others.  Each main assignment will thus be submitted in a folder along with the additional related assignments.

Midterm Grades

In Honors 110, students receive a midterm letter grade based on the work of the first seven weeks of the course.  The purpose of this grade is to help students find out how well they are doing in the first half of the course in order to make any adjustments necessary for success in the course as a whole.  Instructors calculate letter grades based on the completed course assignments as weighted on the syllabus through the seventh week.  The work in the second half of the semester is weighted more heavily, and so the midterm grade is not meant to predict the final course grade.

Course Grading Policy

In grading essays and analyses, I use the following general criteria:

A "C" level grade (70-79%) denotes average college-level writing and achievement.  The essay or analysis is a competent response to the assignment:  it meets, to some degree, all the assignment requirements, and demonstrates that the author has put significant time and effort into communicating his/her ideas to his/her targeted audience.  It has a thesis or clear focal point as needed, presents some support, and moves from point to point in an orderly fashion; sentence-level errors do not significantly prevent comprehension.  Essays or analyses that do not meet these criteria will not earn a "C."

A "B" level grade (80-90%) highlights a strong example of college writing and thinking.  In addition to meeting the "C" level requirements, such an essay or analysis goes further in some way(s): it demonstrates some insight into the "gray areas" of the topic, provides original or very thorough support that is tightly woven into the overall argument, reads smoothly at both the sentence and paragraph levels, and/or exhibits a personal "voice" or style.  It has few sentence-level errors.

An "A" level grade (90-100%) marks an essay or analysis that is a delight for the reader.  Even more than in a "B" assignment, its author anticipates and responds to possible reader questions, uses a wide range of supporting evidence, engages the reader in a provocative conversation, provides unexpected insights, and/or uses language with care and facility.

"D" and "F" level essays do not meet the basic expectations of the assignment.

More specific descriptions of grading criteria will be made available with each major assignment.

Submitting Class Work

Assignments are due at the beginning of class on the due date.  Unless otherwise noted, all formal assignments should be typed using a standard font and size (Times New Roman 12 or 14 point is commonly acceptable), one-inch margins, and double-spaced text.  Assignments should be stapled (and no, I do not carry a stapler with me 24/7).  Put your name, my name, the class session, and the date at the top of the first page; no separate cover sheet is needed. 

I accept emailed assignments only as "place-holders" to avoid a late penalty in an emergency situation; unless otherwise stated, all assignments must be turned in as hard-copy.  You should keep all of your assignments as they are handed back to you; you will be asked to turn them in with your final folder.

Late Work Policy

Late assignments are those arriving any time after the beginning of class on the due date.  If you need to, you can email me an assignment to avoid a grade penalty, but you must still turn in a hard copy as soon as possible. You may place an assignment in my mailbox in Robinson A487, but do not ask the office staff to validate that you have turned it in.  Do not put work on or under my office door or on my desk if I am not there.

Major and Minor assignments (all those worth 5% or more) that are turned in late will lose 5% of their overall grade for every calendar day they are late.  Late-penalties cannot be changed through revision. 

Folder Assignments that are turned in late will automatically lose half their folder-credit, though you are allowed one late Folder Assignment this semester with no penalty.

Lateness due to Rare, Uncontrollable Natural Disasters will not usually incur penalties; it is your responsibility to provide explanation/documentation of such occurrences.  (The flu is not rare, and a lack of parking spots is not a natural disaster.)

Computer Crises are neither Rare nor Natural, and most of them can be avoided or controlled with good advance preparation.  Assignments which are late due to electronic disasters will earn sympathy but will also earn the grade penalty.  Back up your files, print often while in process, and print final assignments before the Last Minute.

Class Participation

This is a hands-on, minds-on, workshop-based class, and your attendance and active participation are crucial to your success for the class.  Work completed during class will frequently count toward your overall Folder grades, and generally cannot be made up.  Any significant pattern of absences will also lower your class-participation grade.

If you are frequently late, you may lose class-participation points.  However, in an emergency I would rather have you come late than not at all; if you get stuck in traffic but you can get here 20 minutes late, please try to come.

You should also be actively present.  This implies brain awareness as well as the basic courtesies of formal social gatherings.  Students who are sleeping, reading the newspaper, carrying on private conversations, answering or texting on cell phones, or working on assignments for other classes (etc.) are not wholly, actively present and thus may lose class participation points. Any serious breach of good classroom conduct may cause you to lose all participation points.

In addition to our regular T/R meetings, you will be required to attend four Friday lecture sessions and to sign in with Brian Heston at each one. You will also be required to go on a field trip to the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.  You will need to attend at least four main conferences with me and/or Brian (see schedule).  

Revision Policy

All of the major assignments (5% or more) may be revised for a new grade (except the last version of the research project, which is already a revision, and the Oral Presentation).  Revisions must demonstrate substantial change to the focus, support, approach, and/or organization of the assignment in addition to comprehensive error correction, or they will be returned with no grade change.  Revisions must be submitted with all previous drafts and a new Post Script, and completed within two weeks of the assignment's return to you (or by the deadline posted for that revision assignment). 

English Department Statement on Plagiarism

Plagiarism means using the exact words, opinions, or factual information from another source without giving that source credit.  Writers give credit through the use of accepted documentation styles, such as parenthetical citation, footnotes, or end notes; a simple listing of books, articles, and websites is not sufficient.  Plagiarism is the equivalent of intellectual robbery and cannot be tolerated in an academic setting.

Student writers are often confused as to what should be cited.  Some think that only direct quotations need to be credited.  While direct quotations do need citations, so do paraphrases and summaries of opinions or factual information formerly unknown to the writers or which the writers did not discover themselves.  Exceptions to this include factual information which can be obtained from a variety of sources, the writers' own insights or findings from their own field research—what has been called common knowledge. What constitutes common knowledge can sometimes be precarious; what is common knowledge for one audience may be so for another.  In such situations, it is helpful to keep the reader in mind and to think of citations as being "reader friendly."

In other words, writers provide a citation for any piece of information that they think their readers might want to investigate further. Not only is this attitude considerate of readers, it will almost certainly ensure that writers will not be guilty of plagiarism.  Consult the George Mason Honor Code for more information.

I refer all cases of suspected plagiarism to the GMU Honor Council.

Students with disabilities

Students with documented disabilities are legally entitled to certain accommodations in the classroom.  If you are a student with a disability and you need academic accommodations, please see me and contact the Disability Resource Center (DRC) at 993-2474.  All academic accommodations must be arranged through the DRC.  I will be happy to work with students and the DRC to arrange fair access and support.

The University Writing Center

You -- yes, even you! -- should check out the resources provided by the University Writing Center (, located in Robinson A114, as you work on your assignments this semester.  While Brian and I can provide guidance, sometimes you really need to hear from a reliable third-party who has nothing to do with grading your assignment (and it's good to find a resource that will be available to you long after you leave Honors 110). The Writing Center is one of the best resources you will find on campus. They have an outstanding website that offers a wealth of online resources for student writers.  You can schedule a 50?]minute appointment with a trained graduate-student tutor to help with any phase of the writing process.  You can also obtain assistance with papers by visiting the online writing center at, but please plan ahead and allow yourself at least two days to receive a response. You can make an appointment by going to their website.

Assignment Overview

In this class, assignments will be scored on a 500 point scale:

  • 485-500= A+
  • 465-484= A
  • 450-464= A-
  • 435-449= B+
  • 415-434= B
  • 400-414= B-
  • 385-399= C+
  • 350-384= C     

At term-end, I round all half-points up.  If you are within 2 points (no more) of a higher grade, and I have seen clear evidence of you "going the extra mile" throughout the semester -- making great improvement as a writer, taking extra care with peer workshops, breaking a sweat with your revisions, enlivening class or Commons discussions -- I reserve the right to give you the higher grade.  There is no persuading me to do this with pleas or sad stories at the very end of the term or after the grade is recorded; my decision, once made, is non-negotiable.

Major Common Assignments

Museum Analysis Assignment

50 points

Due September 22

Research Log Assignment

50 points

All Parts Due October 6

Research Proposal Assignment

50 points

Due September 29

Complete Draft, Research Essay

100 points

Due November 10

Revised Draft, Research Essay

100 points

Due December 8

Minor Common Assignments

Website Evaluation

25 points

Due October 13

Source Evaluation

25 points

Due October 20

Oral Presentation

25 points

Due November 29-December 6

NoteProcess Assignments given throughout the semester are designed to help you take small steps toward completing the major assignments, so that there is no point at which you have to go from zero to 60 in 5.3 seconds, or have to worry about "what the teacher wants" from an assignment.  They are also designed to give you credit for doing the "perspiration" part of an assignment, rather than grading you mostly on whether you're a naturally talented writer or not.

These short assignments, such as the Folder Assignments (FAs), in-class assignments, and Post-Script assignments, are required for most Major and Minor Common Assignments, and will weigh in at 10% of the available points; they will be graded primarily on on-time completion

Thus, for the Museum Analysis assignment, the Museum Analysis Notes and Essay will be worth 45 points, and the process assignments will be worth 5 points.

Class-specific assignments

Writer's Review Essay

10 points

Due September 8

Research Thesis and Sketch

5 points

Due October 25

Endnote Bibliography

10 points

Due October 27

SFD, Research Essay

10 points

Due November 1

EndNote Overview

10 points

Due December 1

Commons and Class Participation

30 points


Assignment Boost Options: Writing and Thinking in the World

For most common assignments this semester, you will have the option of boosting the assignment toward the kind of writing that happens outside the classroom, when real people write for other real people in order to get something specific taken care of.

Boost options don't necessarily require more work or more writing skill; instead, they require a different kind of work, and a way of imagining the assignment beyond the boundaries of writing-for-school. 

I believe that for many students, boosting an assignment will add to your engagement and interest in the assignment; it can give you a chance to try something you haven't done before in high school; and it can help prepare you for a wider range of academic and professional writing. 

However, because boost options may require you to stretch your brain, to do a different kind of research or writing than the regular assignment options, or to work outside your comfort zone, I'll add a grading-boost to even out the experience between boosters and regular assignment takers.  This is a trade-agreement rather than "extra credit":  you agree to try something new, and I agree to spot you some points in case the new thing doesn't work out quite as you planned.  Thus, if you engage fully with the requirements of the boost-assignment, I'll raise the final assignment grade by up to five percent of the total grade -- taking a B+ essay (89%) up to an A essay (94%).

You are not required to boost any assignment this semester; you may boost more than one if you wish.  Beyond the grade-boost, I will not give boosted assignments (or the students who choose to do them) any special treatment; you can just as easily earn an A and earn my respect by completing each assignment exactly as it is described.



Last updated September 2005.Email Shelley Reid