Readings and Reading Reports

Assigned readings will focus on research topics, generally consisting of:

  • A framing paper: presenting a theory, language, or understanding that can contextualize the contributions of additional research.

  • Two papers with more recent or specific contributions: presenting the type of contribution you might initially be expected to attempt in your research.

You are expected to read: (1) the framing paper, and (2) either of the more recent papers (in other words, whichever seems more compelling or interesting to you). You obviously may choose to read all three. The calendar will link to assigned readings and provide any day-specific revisions to this reading structure.

You are expected to have read and considered the assigned readings prior to class, as the in-class discussions are a critical component of this course. To help prepare for an engaging and meaningful discussion, we also assign Reading Reports.

Reading Reports

To help prepare for an engaging and meaningful discussion, we require posting thoughts and questions beforehand. You can start a new discussion, participate in an existing discussion, or do a bit of both. You can discuss all of the assigned readings, or focus on a portion of the reading that you found most interesting. The important part is that we can see intellectual effort in your forum participation, not just a simple paper summary.

Reading reports are generally expected to be approximately 200 to 400 words. which may be in a single post or distributed across several posts related to a day's readings. We expect most will be short and focused on discussion points or questions, and posts that problematically exceed the upper limit or primarily summarize the reading itself will receive low grades. This aims to strike a balance between: (1) enough text to convey a meaningful response, and (2) succinct enough to allow review before class.

Your participation in the forum discussion for each day will be graded on a scale from 0 to 3.

  • 0: If you do not participate.
  • 1: If your participation seems weak and does not convince us you read, understood, and considered the readings.
  • 2: If your participation shows you read and understood the readings and had something interesting to say. This will be the most common grade.
  • 3: Reserved for especially insightful participation.

It is generally easy to find something to criticize in any piece of research. But focusing exclusively on the potential flaws of research is generally not productive. You will generally find it more intellectually worthwhile to focus on aspects of work that are particularly well done, new ideas are prompted by a piece of work, or what you might have done differently if you conducted the research. This will also lead to much more valuable discussions.

Potential topics for discussion are:

  • What idea or innovation enabled this, what more might be done based on that idea or innovation?
  • What new questions or research agendas are suggested by this research?
  • How might this research have informed some other research you have seen?
  • What aspects of this work were particularly well done or effective?
  • If you had conducted this research, what would you have done differently?

We also note that some papers will be presented by authors of those papers. Although we want everybody to be comfortable with open discussion, and we do not expect posts to be overly formal, this is another reason to be thoughtful in how you approach paper discussion.

Discussions will be coordinated using Canvas:

We will create a post for each day and a discussion thread for each paper. If you have a thought or question that relates to multiple papers, post it wherever seems more appropriate.

Reading reports are due at 11:59pm the night before each class meeting. This ensures time the next morning to review discussion before class. Submitting the day of class, just before class, or in class is therefore unacceptable and risks zero credit.