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This paper discusses a first-year writing research prospectus prompt designed to support first-year undergraduate students transitioning from high school writing—which often focuses on summary and synthesis—to college-level writing. In college, “research papers” often require knowledge production: developing research questions that address gaps in existing scholarship. My prospectus prompt offers a scaffolded structure for writers embarking on such college-level projects, and it also offers a tool to facilitate writing transfer, with the goal of enabling students to develop major research projects independently in other classes. It does so in two ways. First, it labels the components of major research projects (e.g. objects of study, research questions about those objects of study, and the theoretical frameworks used to analyze objects of study). Second, it provides a process for approaching research projects, including showing students how to develop research questions and how to move beyond summarizing and synthesizing other scholars.
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