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Survey: Peer Review for Final Paper

Originally, we were going to do mandatory peer review for the final paper during the last week of April. Now, that idea just seems unfeasible, given the global situation and the various ways it might be impacting everyone’s lives.

However, because I believe peer review can be a very useful tool (both in terms of getting feedback AND in terms of practicing analyzing others’ writing), I still want to offer that opportunity to anyone who wants it.

Therefore, please fill out the survey below to tell me what you would like to do!

For everyone who says they would like to be in a peer review group, I will split you into groups of 2 or 3 based on your topic and let you know who you are paired with. I will send peer review instructions/prompts next week.

**Please fill it out even if you do not want to participate in peer review.**

Final Paper Peer Review

    "Work for you" means you have the technological capacity AND feel comfortable using this method, even if it is not your first choice. Please check all that apply.

APA Lesson and Master Doc

This post is a repeat of everything from my Blackboard emails– repeating just because different people have different notifications/email settings, and I want to make sure everyone has access.

The link to the APA Lesson (recorded Zoom class) is here:

It will ask you for a password. The password is in your Blackboard announcements– I’m not posting it here because our site is public and the video is private since the faces of the people who attended live class are shown.

I’m also attaching below a “Master Doc” of all online activities/assignments/rubrics that we’ve done since CUNY closed down, in case you want to download that and find it easier to navigate than the course site.

Imaginary Interview Instructions

The imaginary interview is one of the 8 assignments the English department requires from all 101 students. (Due Monday 4/20 by the end of the day).


  1. Review the sources you think you are planning on including in your annotated bibliography.
  2. Choose two or three sources to work with for this activity.
  3. Write an imaginary conversation where you interview the authors of your sources about the topic of your final project.
      • You should ask at least three open-ended questions that allow the authors to give complex, interesting answers (3 points)
      • Each of the authors should respond to each of your questions, giving a complex, interesting answer (6 points) (So, you write a minimum of 6 responses total)
      • One of the authors should respond directly to the other author’s comment at least once (1 point)
      • The assignment should be turned in on time (2 points)

Total: 12 points

To complete this assignment, you must think about each author’s point of view (based on what they wrote/said in your source) in order to imagine (as accurately as possible) what they would think/say about your questions.

It also might help to consider, if you were actually interviewing those two people, what would be interesting to hear both of them talk about?

Format the interview like a script. For example:

Scripted Interview Formatting Example

Olivia: What is the most important thing you have learned in college so far, and why?

Student 1: I learned that I have to be really careful about planning my time, because it’s easy to get behind, and if you’re behind, you don’t have time to do a very good job on your assignments or think about them a lot. So you learn less, even if the material is easy.

Student 2: I learned a lot about the history of the American justice system and how it came to be the way it is, all the things we inherited from English Common Law, and also what we took from the Iroquois League’s constitution. I hadn’t even thought about the question in terms of life skills– I thought she was just asking about the content of the classes we’ve taken.

Student 1: Oh, that makes a lot of sense. And I’ve definitely learned useful stuff in my classes. But since I’m still in my general education classes, I think the skills I’m practicing are the most important, since they will be important for me to use in my major classes later on.

Module 4: Citation Styles and APA Formatting

This week, we’ll be learning about citing, why citation styles are the way they are, and APA formatting more specifically. Tasks are due by the end of Monday, April 20, with an optional Zoom class on Wednesday, April 15.

You will also complete another one of your Required Portfolio Assignments, the “Imaginary Interview.” The citation activities will prepare you to write the “bibliography” part of the annotated bibliography, and the imaginary interview will prepare you to write the annotations.

Learning Objectives

  • Students will understand the value of not only citing, but citation styles
  • Students will be able to critically evaluate the features and purposes of different styles
  • Students will be able to apply APA Style to their own research sources
  • Students will continue their rhetorical study by learning to identify cognitive biases in the world

Overview of Tasks

  1. Orient yourself with a Writing Into the Week prompt (share only if you wish)
  2. Play a citation explorer game to learn your Citation Style Match
  3. Watch a YouTube tutorial on APA style paper formatting
  4. Attend an optional Zoom class on Wednesday, April 15 OR watch the recording of Zoom class on your own time to learn about APA style citations
  5. Read about cognitive biases and share two examples + analysis
  6. Write an “imaginary interview” with two or more of your sources (due Monday April 20 by the end of the day)

Step 1: Writing Into the Week

Spent 5-10 minutes freewriting. Freewriting means writing about whatever you want, as meandering as you want. But make sure you keep writing the entire time– I recommend setting a timer.

Step 2: Citation Explorer “Game”

Play through this Citation Explorer “game” to discover what citation style best fits YOU and why. Make sure you read the introduction and the explanatory material at the end.

Step 3: Watch a YouTube Tutorial

On the final page of the Citation Explorer, there are links to two YouTube tutorials for APA formatting (one for Google Docs and one for MS Word). Please watch whichever one matches your software– you can also follow along by doing the steps while you watch. I recommend doing this if you can, so that you don’t have to do it again when it’s time to write your annotated bibliography. Go ahead and get this part out of the way.

If you write using another program, watch either video just to learn about the different formatting elements. Most text editing applications (like Pages, etc.) will let you do all of the same things– the menus will just arrange things differently.

If you mostly do your work on your phone/a tablet, but you do have limited access to a computer, I recommend you just do all of the writing first, like normal, and then do all of the formatting at the end on the computer.

If you don’t have computer access, I think all of the same features in Google Docs can be used in the mobile app– it just might be a bit of a pain. Just do your best.

Step 4: Attend Zoom Class or Watch the Recording

I will be hosting class on Zoom on Wednesday, April 15 at our normal class time (4:30). We will definitely end “early” (before 5:45), though. The YouTube tutorials introduced you to APA paper formatting, but the purpose of this Zoom class will be to walk you through how to do APA-style citations.

If you’re not able to attend class live, that’s fine! I will be recording the class session and uploading it to YouTube, so just watch the video when you can.

Step 5: Read About Cognitive Biases and Post Examples

Read the Overview of Cognitive Biases  AND read through each of the 5 pages in the sidebar about specific biases (anchoring, sleeper effect, repetition, reactance, and declinism). Then, find 2 examples of people exhibiting these cognitive biases and post the examples + context + analysis as a comment on this post.

Step 6: Write an “Imaginary Interview”

The full instructions are here, but the general premise is this:

Pretend you are interviewing the authors of two or more of the sources you’ve found in your research so far. Ask them 3 or more questions about the topic you are researching. If they don’t directly address the question in the source, use the source to imagine what the author would/might say.

Both authors should respond to the same questions, and should also respond to each other at least once.

Do not spend more than 1 hour working on this step. 

Normally I would have us do this as an in-class activity with the option to finish it at home, so we would not spend more than 1 hour on it. I would rather you complete all elements of the assignment in a fast, not-very-detailed way, than have you only get part way through because you’re trying to be very detailed and do your best work. Please don’t do your best work. Just complete it.

This is due Monday, April 20 by the end of the day, submitted on Blackboard.

Optional: Viral Phony Google Doc Shows the Rhetorical Power of Academic Formatting

This morning, the Guardian posted an article explaining the long line of bad science and misinformation that has led tens of thousands of people– including Donald Trump and Elon Musk– to believe that Hydroxychloroquine, a drug used to treat malaria, is 100% effective against COVID-19. (Spoiler: there is currently no scientific evidence that it is effective against COVID-19, although there are many ongoing studies on its effectiveness)

I think this situation is highly instructive about ethos and the many ways academic credibility can be faked/manipulated. As we begin our own research and are going to be discussing APA formatting in detail next week, I think this is very relevant to our coursework.

Essentially, some French researchers published a poorly-designed study (will explain in a footnote later)**, then a lawyer named Gregory Rigano did a lot of things to publicize the drug in the U.S. by misrepresenting both himself and the information. Then, several high-profile people got this information, including Trump and Musk, and they further spread it around.

In the rest of this post, I’m going to summarize the events and then analyze the different ways Rigano used academic writing styles, academic formatting, and academic language to portray himself as a credible source on COVID-19 even though he is not. 

The lesson I want you to take away from this is: Just because something looks fancy and academic, and just because someone has a PhD or the name of a fancy university next to their name, doesn’t mean the source is reliable. But on the flip side, getting good at academic formatting and academic language can help you seem authoritative in your own situations. Please use that power ethically and wisely.

Rigano did several interviews on TV and radio stations, but most importantly, he co-wrote a Google Doc formatted like a scientific paper and released online. Google has taken down the file because it violates their Terms of Service (probably the part saying public documents can’t falsely represent another organization), but you can see an archived version here. I will embed a screenshot of the beginning of the file– red lines are added by me.

Beginning of page previously linked to, with red annotations added by professor

This is not a scholarly source. However, it is designed to LOOK like one.

While it doesn’t have a separate title page like papers in APA and Chicago Style do, the way the title and authors are formatted mimic what a title page looks like. It includes acknowledgements and an abstract (the Summary), as well as a scientific diagram and subheadings.

Other than the fact that both scientists and many news sources have since discredited the paper, its authors, and the claims it makes, here are some clues to how it’s bogus, going in order of my red highlights:

  1. It’s published/distributed on Google Docs. Google Docs is great for writing, but scientific studies get published in scientific journals or released on university websites.
  2. Thomas R. Broker is a real biochemist affiliated with UAB (I looked him up), but when academics list their university affiliations on a publication, they just say where they currently work (or study, in the case of students)– you don’t include where you got your PhD. So the “Stanford PhD” part here is weird.
  3. Rigano’s title, “Esq,” means esquire, used to designate lawyers. He seems to really be a lawyer, but what are his qualifications for writing a biochemical study about viruses? His listed email address is affiliated with Johns Hopkins University, but he is not employed there–he’s a student. His LinkedIn profile says he is currently pursuing a master’s degree there but is “on leave.”
  4. “In consultation with” is so vague it could mean just about anything. In fact, Stanford, UAB, and Thomas Broker (the “first author” listed) have all said since this doc was released that they had nothing to do with it and want their names to be removed.
  5. The credits for the translation are also strange– I’ve never heard of an undergraduate student being referred to as a “candidate” before (usually that’s just PhD candidates), and this person is slated to graduate in 2021– they’re a junior in college. So probably they did do the translation, and for all I know they did a good job, but the formatting is designed to lend more ethos to the paper.
  6. The scientific diagram of the molecule is not actually linked to anything in the text– it’s just a decorative image that looks sciencey.

If you continue to read through the archive of the file, there’s lots more reasons to be suspicious– the actual content doesn’t make sense. At the bottom, you’ll also see there are no sources actually cited. The two sections of sources say “More Sources” and “For Informational Purposes Only.” So– the information discussed in the article itself is not actually cited at all. We just get links to related materials.

We also can see that they didn’t follow any sort of normal academic citing protocols. They say, “Due to urgency, certain parts of this publication are taken directly from their attributed source.  Cite them accordingly.” But they don’t say which parts! This is in a gray area of plagiarism. They did acknowledge that some parts of some sections were copy/pasted, but we don’t actually know which parts. 

The lawyer, Rigano, has also gone to some additional lengths to boost his apparent ethos. He is legally the CEO of a “research” company called “Jonas Research,” which was founded in either January or February (unclear) and is filed as an LLC in Albany, NY. There is no information to be found about this company beyond his affiliation with it. They are brand new, and do not appear to be doing research. Yet, he can now truthfully say he’s the CEO of a drug research company.

Fox News falsely credited him as a medical advisor and medical doctor affiliated with Stanford, and he did not correct this characterization. So, he did not claim it directly, but he is now presented that way online.

Furthermore, take a look at the Education section of his LinkedIn profile. His original college degree is in finance, then you see his law degree, and you see his master’s degree-in-progress, but you also see a nonspecific note for “Biochemistry” with the “State University of New York.”

As CUNY students, all of you should know that the CUNY and SUNY systems are just that– systems, not universities themselves. The notes say he has 32 credits in biochemistry classes split across 3 different schools. He says this is a “minor” in parentheses, but it’s impossible to get only a minor– a minor must be connected to a major. So, he’s really saying he has the equivalent coursework of a minor in biochemistry, even though he does not actually have that minor.

But a minor in biochemistry doesn’t really mean you’re qualified to offer definitive proof about cutting edge coronavirus treatments.


Instructions for Module 3: April 3 through the End of Spring Break

For the next week and a half (today through April 12/13), we’ll just be focusing on learning research skills and then doing research for our final projects.

Learning Objectives

  1. Students will become adept at navigating the John Jay library website and the many kinds of online resources available
  2. Students will learn research skills relevant to the beginning of a project and apply that knowledge to explore their own inquiry questions
  3. Students will create a base of background knowledge on their topics and a preliminary list of sources to reference as they compose their projects

Overview of Tasks

  1. Orient yourself with a Writing Into the Week prompt (share only if you wish)
  2. Watch some short video tutorials provided by the John Jay library
  3. Begin doing research toward answering your chosen inquiry question, using the John Jay library website
  4. Keep a running list of sources you think you might want to use for your paper– just pasting links into a file or bookmarking them is fine.
  5. Toward the end of the module (so maybe April 12 or 13), make a comment on this post giving an update on how things are going with your project (and/or with your life!)

Step 1: Writing Into the Week

  1. Regardless of how you feel about writing a research paper, what are some things that you are excited to learn as you work on this project? You all had a lot of freedom in choosing your topics– what are you most looking forward to?
  2. Take some time to freewrite for another 5-10 minutes. Set a timer. Just a few minutes to yourself, to write whatever comes to mind. Or draw! Just keep your pencil on the page or your hands on the keyboard, and keep them moving.

Step 2: Research Training from John Jay Library

Our library offers A LOT of video tutorials.  I’m going to list links below for a few that I want you to make sure you watch, but I encourage you to also watch/read others–if not now, then over the course of the next several weeks as questions arise. I will add a longer list of tutorials I particularly recommend on our Resources page.

**Some of the pages might ask you to sign in. Just use your John Jay computer/email login.**

Video 1: From Questions to Keywords
You all have inquiry questions written– how do you choose good keywords that will take you directly to the things you want to find?

Video 2: Getting Started with Google/Wikipedia
Also click to “Part 2” of this tutorial to view the video “Moving From Google/Wikipedia to Databases”

Video 3: Exploration Strategies

Read through:

Step 3: Research!

There’s a couple places I recommend you start, aside from doing general background research.

  1. View the library’s Research Guide for your topic’s subject area and choose a database the guide recommends
  2. Try searching in Academic Search Complete
  3. In the righthand sidebar of our course site, there are two search bars– one lets you search our course site, but the other takes you directly to the library’s main database, One Search! You can start right now by typing some keywords in there!

Step 4: Running List

You should actually do this one at the same time as Step 3. Whether you use a Word doc, a Google doc, or have another way you prefer to keep track, make sure you keep a list of the sources you find that you think will be useful!

Don’t worry about shaping them into an annotated bibliography right now– we have another couple weeks before we’re at that stage. Just paste the links in there, and maybe leave a note to remind yourself of the title/author/what it’s about and why you chose it.

Step 5: Give a Progress Update!

Toward the end of the module (so maybe April 12 or 13), make a comment on this post giving an update on how things are going with your project (and/or with your life!)

How are things going? What have you found/learned so far? Are you needing to adjust your inquiry question(s)? What are your next steps?

If you want to share, how are things going in your life beyond this class?

***I would like everyone to schedule a virtual conference with me sometime before the end of the semester so we can chat about your paper one on one in real time. It’s up to you when you do it– if you are having trouble getting started with research, now could be a good time! But you can also wait until later in the writing process, or make multiple appointments**



Annotated Bibliography Instructions and Rubric

The annotated bibliography is not due until Friday, April 24th. You have 3 weeks to work on it. However, because this week (I’m writing this on April 3) is reserved as research time, I wanted to make sure you have these guidelines well in advance so you know what you’re working towards.  


**But also see below for an Alternative Option**

  1. As you research your inquiry question for your final project, compile a list of sources (bibliography) that help you answer your question and/or provide useful background knowledge for you and your readers.
  2. Cite each source according to APA style.
  3. Below each citation, write a paragraph or so about that source (an annotation). The paragraph should include:– A summary of the source
    —Your thoughts on the source (How do you think you will use it in your paper? What biases do you think it might have? What are its strengths, and what are its weaknesses? How does it connect to your other sources?)

Other Guidelines:

  • At least 6 sources + annotations
  • At least half of the sources should be scholarly/found through the John Jay library databases. The other half can come from wherever as long as you think they are trustworthy.
  • In addition to writing each citation in APA style, you should also include these other aspects of APA formatting: title page with title, name, university, and any author’s note you want to include, correct running head on all pages, page numbers, correctly titled References page


Complete an APA-style bibliography without the annotations.

Then, create a video in which you show each source and verbally talk through the source and your analysis of it according to the guidelines for annotations above. You can do this via screencasting (built into iPhones and Macs, not sure about PCs and Androids) or by taking a video of your computer screen using your phone. It’s totally fine if the video is informal/unedited, but you can make it fancy if you want to.


Each source + annotation includes all required parts (citation, summary, your thoughts)
(3 points per entry = 18 points, but 1 point off per source that doesn’t meet the scholarly vs. not scholarly requirements. Make sure you have 3 scholarly sources—the other 3 can be scholarly or non-scholarly)

  • Source 1 ___
  • Source 2 ___
  • Source 3 ___
  • Source 4 ___
  • Source 5 ___
  • Source 6 ___

Total for this section: ____

Every other element of APA style listed in the instructions is met: 9 points

  • Title page ___
  • Title ____
  • Name ___
  • University ____
  • Author’s Note (if applicable) ____
  • Correct Running Head First Page ____
  • Correct Running Head Subsequent Pages ____
  • Page Numbers ____
  • Beginning of bibliography is titled “References” ___

Turned in on time (3 points) ____

***Due to the many serious ways the pandemic may be affecting our lives, if you turn it in late, I’ll just grade you out of 27 instead of out of 30. It’s sort of 3 free points, but each other aspect of the rubric affects your grade on the assignment a tiny bit (0.5% per point) more. I wanted a way to incentivize turning it in on time to keep folks on track and make my grading life easier without hurting those who can’t due to factors outside of their countrol.***

Total: ____ (out of 30 or 27 points)

Final Project Proposal

Topic/Title: Statistics and data used to incriminate/judge Black people and other people of color.

Research Questions:

1) How is data used to incriminate POC?

2) Does this data and statistics take in account a person’s delinquency when judging or incriminating that person?

3) How does the media depict data and statistics in regard to each race?

Final Draft Proposal:

My research proposal will be based on how data and statistics impact the portrayal of black and POCs and the incrimination/judging of these people.  I always believed that our prison system was unfair and there are multiple example of this unjust and unfair treatment of black and POCs in that system, such as Cynthia Brown and Nathaniel Woods.

Things I will be using:
•Conviction statistics between black/POC and white people accused/charged with the same crime.
•Documentaries/Articles that can help me answer my threes question.

Final Proposal Draft

Topic: Search history used to target individuals with specific ads

Research Question(s):

1) How can we maintain our privacy and prevent apps, such as facebook, from selling our information?

2) How is our search history used to target individuals with specific ads?

3) Could there be a breach in the “Terms & Conditions” rules?

4) Is our privacy violated when apps are using our information or data?

5) what is the contract companies have with one another in regards to consumer data?

Final Draft Proposal:

My research proposal will be based on how our own search history is used to target us with specific ads. I chose this topic because I find it very eerie how quick I receive ads after seconds of only searching them up. Not to mention, how long they last afterwards, months after said search was done! An example of this is; around the month of December looking up retroviewers for my best friend’s birthday. Months later and every now and then, my instagram gives me the occasional retroviewer ad. I also have looked into the “BarkBox” website and even offers discounts!

I would like to focus on the first question: How can we maintain our privacy and prevent apps, such as facebook, from selling our information?

In April of 2018, Facebook’s creator, Mark Zuckerberg had to testify to the US congress for selling user’s data and information to third party apps. He was thoroughly questioned during the days he testified and assured the congress, as well as users, that Facebook did NOT share private information with other apps.