YA Inquiry Project

Your Task

I want you to ask a meaningful question about the field of young adult literature. Strong scholarship arises from strong questions, and we’ll spend some time in class discussing questioning and how we arrive at the kind of questions I will want you to explore in this assignment. You will communicate this question (and a plan for your inquiry) via a proposal submitted to me that must be approved before you engage in the inquiry. In seeking an answer to your question, you will explore scholarly sources as well as engage in your own original research.

To report on your inquiry, you will write a hybrid project, combining the journey of your inquiry (i.e., a narrative) with a report of what you found in the inquiry. In other words, I want you to tell me the story of your inquiry (including how you might have perceived your question early on and how those perceptions or your thinking changed along the way) at the same time as you tell me what you found in your inquiry. This, of course, means that your final paper will make use of the first person and can be less formal in tone. Feel free to make use of more traditional devices, like headings, in your final report.


The final product should be 3,500-4,250 words (not including references). It should be double-spaced, using 1” margins and 12-point serif font. Your paper must follow MLA guidelines for citations and for the formatting of your Works Cited page. Although the piece is a hybrid, less formal paper, I still expect your citations to be perfect and to follow academic standards.


You must approve your inquiry topic with me by means of submitting a proposal (via email) by the date indicated in the syllabus. In this proposal, please include the following:

  • your inquiry question
  • how you arrived at this question (note that here you’re starting to tell the story of this project)
  • your plans for conducting inquiry (scholarly sources and original research)

Your primary research for this project may be textual (i.e., you analyze cases or examples from books that you’ve read related to your inquiry question) or it may be field research (where you bring in voices of teens or teachers or parents as appropriate for your inquiry topic). This primary research should inform your conclusions in a meaningful way.


This link will open a PDF version of the grading sheet for this project. Remember that English department policies prevent me from giving an A grade to a paper with significant mechanical errors, and that includes errors in MLA formatting of citations.


I’ve selected three sample inquiry papers for you to look at as examples of the kind of product that meets these expectations. These are all in Microsoft Word format.