Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Blogging for Hire: Exploring the Career Potential of Writing on the Web

Villanova's Professional Research Option is an opportunity for graduate students to explore a professional field over the course of a semester and write a report to summarize their findings. This is a great opportunity for students to explore a profession that appeals to them in the process of deciding on a career.

In light of currently expanding digitized media distribution and the growing commercialization of social networking practices, this project sought to explore the career potential of professional blog writing through both self-hosted platforms and contractual blog contributing under established media outlets. After summarizing the historical progression of blogging since it began in the 1990s, this investigation also brings blogging up to speed by reporting on some of its current statistical uses and  trends. It then investigates the relationship between education and blogging, a link that is itself inherently uncertain because of the self-mediated and open-access nature of blogging (i.e. the promise that anyone can publish). The project also offers practicalguidance concerning the various approaches to commercial blogging as well as the projected income and viability of blogging professionally. In recognition of the ways that blogging has challenged journalistic domains and encroached upon traditional publishing hierarchies, the exploration herein also examines the positive and negative aspects of unmediated self-publishing in relation to its predecessor: traditional journalism. Lastly, because of the ubiquity and inevitability of social media use, this investigation looks at some of the professional benefits of maintaining an online presence regardless of one’s particular career trajectory.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Today's English Educators

This paper explores the roles and responsibilities of today’s English educator (both the secondary teacher and the university professor). It first provides a general historical overview of how literature has functioned and served society over the last several centuries. By chronicling the various literary movements since the 18th century, we can begin to understand how English situates itself in modern schooling and how the social and political systems and statuses of the world over history have dictated how literature can serve society. The study then explores different facets, duties, and skills of the actual teaching role and position as literary educator. By synthesizing current educational pedagogy and literary theory along with incorporating commentary from several interviews with professionals in the field, we explore the teacher’s moral sensibility, her competence as a “social being,” her improvisational and spiritual performance skills, and the all important ability to model the process and lifestyle of scholarship and inquiry. The final portion of the paper briefly examines several reading theories that are useful to the English educator. We first look at the importance of viewing reading as a craft- a practical and useful life skill. Finally, there is a consideration of reading as emotional education and ethical exercise.

For a copy of the full paper, contact Dr. Hicks at, or drop by the Graduate Lounge where hard copies of all Professional Research Option projects are archived.

Innovations and Opportunities in the eBook Industry

This Professional Research Option project explores the history of the eBook industry, considers its current state, and offers some projections regarding its future. The project also discusses the best job opportunities in the industry, considering positions at traditional publishers, small presses, and recent entrants to the market like Amazon and Apple, then pinpointing geographic centers for eBook publishing. Finally, this study highlights the advantages of advanced studies in literature when seeking a career in eBooks, and identifies a variety of additional skill sets, such as technology and marketing, that could make a jobseeker more appealing to potential employers. The appendices include a selection of additional reading and resources, a sample cover letter and résumé, sample job listings, and industry statistics from the United States Department of Labor.

For a copy of the full paper, contact Dr. Hicks at, or drop by the Graduate Lounge, where hard copies of all Professional Research Option projects are archived.

So you want to be an editor?

The gravity of the written word is not taken lightly by the English scholar, and in the course of study, the goals of precision and clarity in written communication and argumentation are essential to a successful completion of an MA in Literature. Approaching editing as a professional option then, seems a probable path for the skill set of a newly minted English MA recipient. This independent research project sets out to discover just how probable it is, providing a brief history of the book editing profession, matching the English MA scholars’ skills sets with those of the professional editor, demystifying the editorial job function, and examining current print and digital models of the publishing industry. Additionally, sections on advice from the experts, educational resources, and job opportunities in the current market serve as a helpful how-to guide.

For a copy of the full paper, contact Dr. Hicks at, or drop by the Graduate Lounge where hard copies of all Professional Research Option projects are archived.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Academic Librarianship

The Role of Instruction in the Academic Library
This paper focuses on the role of instruction in the current field of academic librarianship. It explores the history of the field, including the evolution of both traditional and new models of academic librarianship. It examines future prospects of the field through personal interviews as well as through job searching websites for librarians. It identifies job descriptions for information literacy/instruction librarian positions and considers the requirements and education/preparation for that role. Finally, the paper addresses the ways in which high school and academic librarians’ roles intersect, suggesting particular practices for cross-collaboration between the two similar fields. The appendices include job listings, a cover letter sample, a sample résumé, and an additional bibliography for further research in library instruction.

For a copy of the full paper, contact Dr. Hicks at, or drop by the Graduate Lounge, where hard copies of all Professional Research Option projects are archived.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Model Proposal

Click here to view a model proposal for PRO projects. Check back for updates on the latest PRO projects from previous semesters!