In Unit 1, you were introduced to some of the methods used by writers and scholars to explore the politics of sports and some of the central questions at issue about power, identity, and social justice that they raised. Now, it’s your turn to engage in inquiry into the politics of sports.
Think about your sports-related interests, whether they be academic (something you’ve found interesting in another course, perhaps?) or personal (what kinds of entertainment/issues do you actually find yourself gravitating toward in your free time?) or an issue of social/political concern about which you are passionate/would like to know more about OR a blend of all these points of interest. Write them down and ask the following questions about each:
- What’s the central situation or primary case?
- What kinds of frustrations/fascinations do I have about this topic?
- What questions do I have about this topic? Can I envision multiple and conflicting answers in response to my questions?
- What is a question at issue that can guide my inquiry?
Once you decide on a topic and develop a question at issue to guide your research, your next question should be: Is my provisional research question at issue appropriate in scope for an 8-10 page paper (or whatever kind of project you will be writing for your class)? Keep returning to this question as you start exploring what has already been written about your area of inquiry. Look at the scope of arguments each writer tackles. Consider the form. If you find a book-length discussion on your topic, for example, your question might be too broad. Similarly, if you find a short newspaper opinion piece that covers all of the relevant issues related to your topic, you might need to expand your thinking.
At this point, you are prepared to start reading more about your topic to get a basic, overview picture of the different kinds of perspectives and arguments. Your goal is to discover ongoing conversations about your topic so that you can develop an argument and line of reasoning in response. Your investigation into your topic should also give you a sense about in which kinds of contexts your topic is addressed. A “context” can include the reasons a piece of writing is written (why this article now?), the author’s motivation for writing it (what do they hope to accomplish?), and the intended audience (who can take action on the issue?). Academic articles in scholarly journals have different purposes and audiences than long-form journalism pieces in the New Yorker. The writing you will be doing for your class will also have its own purposes and audiences.
It’s now time to consult the UO WR 123 research guide to continue in the research process. The guide has detailed help for you to choose a topic, find background information, find research on your topic, evaluate your sources, and create source citations as well as resources to help you as you start writing your paper.