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Writing Assignment #3
Personal Research Narrative

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Summary of assignment
• Task: You will complete the following

o Expand on the topic that you researched for writing assignment #2 by locating at
least five more sources on the topic.
o Take notes as you read through the sources.
o Write a personal research narrative in which you not only comment on what the
sources say but also comment on your research journey that led you to these

• Length: 1800-2400 words
• Format: APA
• Sources: 10 sources, six of which should be scholarly sources

More details that explain each of these sections are provided below.

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Background of this Essay
In many classes in the past, you might have been instructed never to use the word “I” in your
writing. However, throughout this class, in both the response essay and the reflective
annotated bibliography, you have been instructed that the use of the word “I” was totally
acceptable, even encouraged. In this essay, this use of the first-person point of view continues.
This essay is a research essay in which you use the word “I.”

Ken Macrorie, a professor at Western Michigan University, wrote a textbook in 1980 called The
I-Search Paper. In the book, Macrorie criticized traditional research papers that students were
often asked to produce in classes. He designed, instead, a type of research paper that asked
students to use the first-person point of view (“I”) in their papers, encouraged them to explore
topics that were of interest to them, and required that they comment on their research journey in
finding sources and information on their topics as much as on any arguments or conclusions
they were making on their topics.

This writing assignment in WRTG 291 is informed by Macrorie’s approach, although it does not
involve all elements of the research process he asked for.

In your WRTG 291 class, you have been given access to a chapter from Linda Bergmann,
“Writing a Personal Research Narrative.” Please access that chapter.
In that chapter, please review “The Personal Research (‘I Search’) Paper,” starting on page 160.
On page 160, Bergmann (2010) writes:

Although an I-Search assignment calls for a personal narrative, like most academic writing it is
written to communicate to a particular audience, not for the writer alone. Its purpose is to help
you discover and communicate the personal and professional significance of your research to a
particular audience.

Moreover, pages 161-162 in Bergmann’s chapter list some steps to take in organizing
and preparing to write your paper.

Sample Personal Research Narrative Essay

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On pages 162-166 of Bergmann’s chapter is a sample personal research narrative essay. Another
sample I-Search paper can be seen by clicking here, although this example has fewer sources and
fewer scholarly sources than this assignment call for.

Moving from the Reflective Annotated Bibliography to the Personal Research Narrative

For writing assignment #2, you wrote a reflective annotated bibliography. In that assignment,
for each of the articles you found, you wrote not only a précis of the article but also some
vocabulary, reflection, and quotes from the article.

Hopefully, through that assignment, you developed an interest in a focused aspect of your
topic. The following describes some examples of focusing your topic:

• You may have conducted research on whether Massive Open Online Courses
(MOOCs) are effective in classroom environments. For writing assignment #2, you may
have found 5-6 articles on MOOCs in general.
Perhaps, as a result of your findings, you have now done more research and have
focused on MOOCs for a particular field of study (e.g., computer programming or
creative writing). You then found more articles related to not only MOOCs but also
MOOCs for learning computer programming or MOOCs for learning creative writing.

• You may have conducted research on cyber breaches in the health care industry. For
writing assignment #2, you may have found 5-6 articles on various cybersecurity
incidents in hospitals or other areas of the health care industry.
Perhaps, as a result of your findings, you have now done more research and have
focused on not only what breaches have occurred but what training practices are being
implemented to avert such occurrences in the future. As a result, you found more
articles that rounded out your research on this topic.

• You may have conducted research on the CSI effect. For writing assignment #2, you
may have found 5-6 articles on studies that analyze whether a CSI effect exists.
Perhaps, as a result of your findings, you have now done more research and have
focused on the various types of CSI effects that are shown in the literature. You then
found more articles that expanded your knowledge of the CSI effect.
It is this research experience on which you will write the personal research narrative.

Examining the Sample Personal Research Narrative in
Bergmann’s Chapter:

Note how, in the sample student personal research narrative on page 162, the student begins by
providing the background that gave him an interest in the topic. He then discusses his first steps in
researching the topic. As he describes his steps in the research process, he uses expressions
like, “I was astounded by…” or “This idea seemed valid to me, but…” or “…let me to
wonder…” or “At this point in my exploration I have come up with a slight dilemma.”

For your personal research narrative, you want to follow the same pattern. Describe to the
reader what you thought when you started researching, what you already knew about the
subject, what interested you in the subject, etc. Then describe your various steps, commenting
on what surprised you, what ideas did not seem valid to you, what research articles you may
have questioned, etc.

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You might consider your response essay, which was the first essay you wrote for this class.
The personal research narrative is, in some ways, an expanded response essay. In the personal
research narrative, you may be responding to several authors while providing a narrative of
your thought process and learning process throughout your research journey.

Length and Other Requirements:

Your paper should be 1800-2400 words. It should include at least ten sources, six of
which should be scholarly. The sources are to be cited and listed in APA format.

In addition, the paper should be formatted according to APA style (e.g., you should include a
running head with page numbers, have appropriate margins, etc. in accordance with the video
tutorial you observed in class, How to format your paper according to APA style.)

Additional resources:
In our class, in the e-reserves section, we have a chapter from the book by Graff, G. and
Birkenstein, C, They Say / I Say: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing with Readings.
The chapter mentions various techniques to apply in stating what an author said and your
response to the author. As was recommended for the response essay, it is recommended that
you read through that chapter so that you might apply these techniques to this essay.

Submitting the assignment:
Please post a rough draft of your Personal Research Narrative essay as your instructor directs
you by the due date your instructor provides. After receiving feedback on your response
essay, please use the comments from your instructor to help you to assess your own rough

Please post your subsequent draft of the Personal Research Narrative as your instructor
directs you. The number of drafts you write will depend on your instructor’s arrangement as
well as your timeliness in submitting the assignment.

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