A doctoral program involves a long road toward independent, high-quality research. In the Proseminar, our goal for you is that you take the first few steps down this road. Thus, the Research Development Paper (RDP) has been designed as a vehicle for you to (a) develop and refine your research interests and (b) begin to think about what high-quality research would entail in that particular area. Specifically, in the RDP you will revise and refine your research interests as expressed in your doctoral goal statement; discuss those interests with relevant program faculty and students; read and summarize work in this area of interest; and chart a work agenda for this interest (including both theoretical and empirical elements).

The Final Product

By the end of the semester, your will present a paper that contains the following components: (1) where you began: your initial statement of your research interests, (2) your end-of-semester statement of that interest (with a short commentary on the changes evident in the two), (3) a summary of their conversations with “experts,” (4) an annotated bibliography of relevant research, and (5) an agenda of further steps to explore and develop this interest.

The Annotated Bibliography

The Annotated Bibliography of the relevant research in your area of research interest will include at least 6 relevant sources. This is a minimum; it is very likely that you will find more. At least 3 of these sources should be primary reports of empirical research – that is, research where authors have gathered and analyzed data and drawn inferences from that data. For each piece of research, the Annotated Bibliography should include: (1) the reference in APA format, and (2) at least two descriptive paragraphs, the first summarizing what the authors said and did in their study or article and the second summarizing the relevance of the work to the students’ interests. It is important to keep these two issues separate – e.g., “Their story” and the relevance to your interests can be two very different things.

How do I turn in my work?

By the end of the class we want you to be able to turn in this as one of the web pages on your portfolio (web presence). You can use your web presence to turn in the steps of your RDP as well. The instructors will look at your profile URL setting to find where your web presence is, so please keep that field updated.

During the time that your web presence is not ready, you can turn in your RDP assignments by emailing both instructors (,

RDP Assignment Schedule

Week 1

Write initial statement of research interests. If your original goal statement included in your doctoral application is still the best statement of your research interest, then you don’t need to change a thing. Just copy it. If you have things to add to what you wrote in your doctoral application, you may do so.

Week 2

Compile and turn in a list of 3 “experts”.

Week 3

Begin to identify and review articles, book chapters, and books in their area of interest, find them, and read them.

Week 4

To stay on schedule during Week 4, try to complete your annotated bibliography of at least 6 relevant sources.

Note, however, that you won’t turn anything in until Week 5. With several other things due during Week 4, we want you to have some flexibility on when you choose to complete the RDP annotations.

Week 5

Post online an intermediate draft of your ‘final’ RDP. The goal here is, for the first time, to bring together all of the RDP’s section and begin to create a coherent paper. As a reminder, the RDP’s parts include:

  • Your initial statement of your research interests
  • Your final interest statement with a short commentary on the changes over time
  • A summary of your 3 “experts” with a short rationale for why you chose them and how their work informs your research interest
  • An annotated bibliography of relevant research
  • An agenda of further steps to explore and develop your research interest

Week 6

**Base group members comment on other members’ RDP drafts.

Week 7

Post online your final RDP. The final draft should read like a coherent whole, a story – if you will – of how your research interest changed during the term. Remember also that the final draft should include all sections (see reminder in Week 5 above), including a final section setting an agenda for further steps in developing your research interest.

Week 8

Complete Peer Review of RDP Presentations

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