Write a research paper that focuses on the synthesis, understood here to mean the creation of new knowledge from several sources, between and among popular media portrayals of a profession and how that profession views itself, as represented in trade publications, organizational websites, job descriptions, and other non-scholarly sources. This two-fold purpose needs a strong organizational framework to hold together, so consider using a comparison/contrast organizational framework, discussed below, to inform your pre-writing and research. In order to represent your popular media portrayal, you can draw on characters from books, films, TV or streaming shows, or reviews of the same. One example of a popular portrayal of a sales professional might be Ricky Roma’s conniving, calculating, and cutthroat real estate salesman in David Mamet’s Pulitzer Prize winning play Glen Garry Glen Ross, or another example might be the unorthodox, unruly, and, at times unsavory Baltimore police officer Jimmy McNulty from The Wire. You’re free to make your own choice of popular portrayal as long as it reflects your career or field of study. There are numerous choices available. To represent a professional perspective, consider visiting organizations’ websites where ideas about best practices, recruitment, professional development, or innovation are represented. You can explore sources that provide the latest news on industry growth or present profiles of those who are driving change in the field. Further, you might look into magazines or other periodicals that focus on a specific field, like Scientific American or Road and Track, to see what can be learned from journalists exploring the careers and speaking with professionals. Because there is wider latitude in your research choices with this paper, make sure that you remain focused on your purpose: writing this focused research paper should identify and explain specific similarities and differences in popular and professional perspectives of the career or field of study under examination.
Refining the Focus: Although the general paper topic is given to you, you’ll need to identify the specific profession you’d like to explore. Each profession, moreover, might be defined in more or less specific terms. For instance, you could focus on IT professionals in general, or you could focus on computer programmers in particular; you could focus on psychologists in general, or particular jobs in psychology, such as counseling or coaching. Unless you have a very specific professional identity you would like to investigate, start with a general professional area and begin searching for sources conveying perceptions of individuals in that broad field. You may find that there are multiple distinctive identities, some of which interest you more than others.
Collecting and Analyzing Data: The class’s Knowledge Base on Professional Identities provides a good starting point. Many of the sources you and your classmates have found will be usable for this paper. First, though, you’ll need to analyze the sources, paying particular attention to specific observations made about the profession you’re examining, particularly the popular media portrayal that you’re using as the basis for one of your perspectives. All along, keep in mind that you are exploring images of the profession from different perspectives. It might help to make two separate analysis tables, one focusing on popular media portrayals, and one focusing on professional sources. For each collection of sources, you might catalogue particular job titles, qualities, behaviors, or values associated with the profession, noting where they appear (e.g., in which article, on what page, in what show, with what character, etc.) and how they are discussed (e.g., as an essential quality, as common activity, characterization, directorial choices, etc.). Reflect, then, upon the similarities and differences between the trends you find in the two different ways the career field of area of study is represented..
Developing a Thesis Statement: The thesis of the paper should make a compelling statement about the similarities and differences between popular media portrayals of a field and those held by the professionals themselves about their work. Some ways to make the thesis compelling are to highlight the most striking differences, to posit reasons for the different perceptions, or to call attention to similarities or differences that are least obvious to the casual observer. Such rhetorical moves not only help you to add your original observations to the ongoing conversation, but they also intrigue readers and invite them to see how you’ll demonstrate your thesis in the body of the paper.
Organizing Your Analysis: An extended compare-and-contrast paper can be organized in a few different ways. Here are some strategies to choose from:
Present an extended analysis of the popular media portrayal, then demonstrate an overview of how professionals see themselves and their work, and lastly produce a final section that directly compares or contrasts key points of similarity or difference.
Present a focused section explaining the popular portrayal on the profession, and then dedicate one or more sections to reconciling that popular image with what you find in professional sources, explaining in particular how popular images match up, fall short, or exaggerate the image that professionals hold of themselves.
Compare the popular and the professional perspectives feature by feature, analyzing first, for instance, perceptions of what such a professional does, then, what it takes to succeed at that profession, and so on.
However you organize your analytical points, keep in mind the general goal of comparing and contrasting, as well as arguing what you think readers are meant to understand about the field because of your analysis. What is it about your career field or area of study that your audience will gain after having read your work? What is important about you having analyzed these relationships? Be sure to take your thesis to the extra step of arguing what the comparisons and contrasts mean, not simply that they exist and can be identified.
Specific Expectations for the Final Deliverable:
The paper must be formatted and documented following APA recommendations (for specifics, see the assignment sheet for the final draft).
The paper must be between 1200 and 1600 words (not counting the title page or References page).
At least six sources must be referenced in the body of the paper and on the References page. You’ll need to have a balance of popular and professional sources to successfully demonstrate your thesis.
The paper must be submitted to Turnitin, and it must be plagiarism-free. Be sure to correct inappropriate references before turning in your final version through the Submit tool
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