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McLaughlin / WR 13300 / Fall 2015

Research Essay Proposal/Exploratory Draft

Due by the start of class on 11/10; worth 20 points in the total score for your
research paper (10 points for the proposal and 10 points for the exploratory draft)
Directions: Drawing from the strategies discussed by Wayne Booth in The Craft of
Research, as well as our discussions in class, complete the following proposal and
exploratory draft for your research project. You may type on a separate document, if
you wish. To earn full points, these items should be detailed and should reflect your
careful thinking about your project.
Part 1: Research Proposal
Thomas Matysik
TOPIC (I am studying):
I am studying the role of rhetoric (specifically emotional and humorous contact) in
patient care
RESEARCH QUESTION(S) (because I want to find out)
because I want to find out how poor bedside manner can lead to poor patient
AUDIENCE & SIGNIFICANCE (in order to help _______ understand)
in order to help the general population understand why it is so important to
consider more than just a resume when choosing a physician.
CONTEXT (This issue is important and timely because)
This issue is important and timely because understaffing and the increasing
complexity of modern medicine is leading to less physician-patient contact,
ultimately leading to poor connections with patients (bedside manner) and poor
patient outcomes.
EXHIBIT (To illustrate my discussion of ______, I plan to focus on _______):
To illustrate my discussion of the role of patient-physician contact in patient
outcomes, I plan to focus on finding sources that show a relationship between
patient-physician contact and positive patient outcomes. I also plan to focus on the
mechanism behind why this relationship exists, and what this research suggests for
the general population (find a physician who actually cares). I also plan to find the
relationship between mental/emotional health and physical health, and how does
this relationship change the way that physicians approach treatment, or how
patients approach finding a physician.

McLaughlin / WR 13300 / Fall 2015


MLA citation

Penson, Richard. "Laughter: The Best

Medicine?" The oncologist 10.8

Type of source?
News article?
Scholarly journal
article? Book?
Website? Other?
Scholarly journal
article (The

(2005): 651-60. Print.

Lothane, Zvi. "The Uses Of Humor In

Life, Neurosis And In Psychotherapy:
Part 2." International Forum Of
Psychoanalysis 17.4 (2008): 232239. Academic Search Premier. Web.
9 Nov. 2015.

Martin, R. A. "Is Laughter the Best

Medicine? Humor, Laughter, and
Physical Health." Current Directions
in Psychological Science (WileyBlackwell) 11.6 (2002): 216-20.

Scholarly journal
(International Forum

What does the source offer

your project? Background?
Statistics? Theory? Argument?
Counterargument? Example?
Offers an overview of how humor
can help the patients in their
mental helath, which goes on to
affect their physical health.
Humor may help to ease the pain,
show the human side of the health
care team, and help everyone
cope. Whether the patient uses
humor to lighten the mood of a
difficult consultation with their
physician, or health care workers
use it to help cheer each other
through the day, humor and
laughter can be valuable tools.
Humor can soften the isolation
experienced by both patients and
The use of humor in psychological
therapy. Describes the reason why
it is effective as well.

Of Psychoanalysis)
Scholarly journal
(Current Directions in

Interesting for mechanisms, also

includes statistical analysis that
could be used as a
Examines research evidence for
the popular idea that humor and
laughter have beneficial effects on
physical health. Potential
mechanisms for such effects are
discussed first. Evidence for
beneficial effects of humor and
laughter on immunity, pain
tolerance, blood pressure,
longevity, and illness symptoms is
then summarized. Overall, the

McLaughlin / WR 13300 / Fall 2015

evidence for health benefits of

humor and laughter is less
conclusive than commonly
Lackner, Helmut, et al. "Cardiovascular
Effects of Acute Positive Emotional
Arousal." Applied Psychophysiology
& Biofeedback 39.1 (2014): 9-18.

This article describes

the physical response
of the cardiovascular
systems to positive
emotional arousal
such as humor.

Good source for an example of

how mental health can have
physiological effects.

McLaughlin / WR 13300 / Fall 2015

Part 2: Exploratory Draft

1) You should begin with a statement of what you hope to accomplish with the
project, and with what audience (e.g., I plan to argue that the NCAA must
revise its existing social media policy in order to combat the recent increase
in recruiting violations). Explain why you find this topic interesting and
important. Provide relevant background information to show the existing
conversation around your topic and the new perspective you hope to offer
through your project.
I plan to argue that patients or families of patients need to find physicians who
make an effort to connect to each patient on an emotional level, since mental
health has a role of physical health. I find this topic interesting and important
because understaffing and the increasing complexity of modern medicine is leading
to less physician-patient contact, ultimately leading to poor connections with
patients (bedside manner) and poor patient outcomes. Furthermore, patients and/or
the patients family dont really consider the personality of the physician when
choosing a physician. For example, my grandma took my grandpa to an oncologist
at UChicago just because the doctor is working at an esteemed hospital and the
doctor went to Harvard Medical School. While I understand the importance of having
a smart physician, this isnt everything. The oncologist turned out to be extremely
rude and inconsiderate toward her patients on the few occasions when she actually
spoke to my grandpa. Her negativity and pessimistic attitude toward fighting the
cancer affected my grandpas mental health, which in turn affected his physical
health. I truly believe that an oncologist with a different attitude would be able to
successfully treat more patients because of the effect of a positive attitude on
physical outcomes. (insert possible example, placebo effect?). What I hope to
accomplish in this project is to educate the non-healthcare educated public (my
class) about why it is so important to find a physician who cares about you as an
individual, and remains optimistic (while still being truthful) in even the more dire of
2) Identify and discuss the intended audience for this project and what this
audience has at stake in the topic you are researching. Questions to help you
identify an audience: Who will benefit? Who will lose something? Who is in a
position to be persuaded to follow the new course of thinking/action for which
you plan to argue?
My intended audience in this project are the people who will be making medical
decisions for themselves or someone else, and are not educated in medicine.
The people that work in the healthcare field experience this everyday, and they
understand the importance of bedside manner (even if they still arent good at
it). Im hoping to reach the decision makers because these people are often
entrusting their own, or a relatives life into a doctors hands. This can seem
daunting, and I really want to emphasize how important it is that they find a
doctor who they feel comfortable around, and who communicates well with the
patient, not just a doctor who has a good reputation or who has a prestigious

McLaughlin / WR 13300 / Fall 2015

3) How do you imagine your essay unfolding at this point? What are the distinct
claims/points you anticipate making in order to convince your audience of
your arguments quality and relevance? Provide a tentative outline.
At this point, I want to try to set up a series of evidence that eventually leads to
my overall point, starting with things that are familiar to the audience (ex.
Placebo effect), and working my way all the way up to the most complex idea
(the mechanism that causes the linkage between mental/emotional health and
physical health. I also plan to address a counterargument (cited above), that
claims that the stat. tests arent significant, and address that counter by citing
other studies that found a statistically significant relationship between a mental
stimulus and a physical response (ex. The cardiovascular study found above, w/
statistical evidence).
4) Discuss what sources youve found so far and what other ones you would like
to look for. What kind of evidence will your audience expect? How will you
accommodate those expectations? Who do you anticipate might disagree
with you, and why? What evidence will they likely point to?
-I have found some that show linkages between humor and mental health (already
being used in treatment
-I have found others that examine the physical health response to humor or other
-I have found articles that aim to explain why we observe what we do.
-I have found a possible counterargument.
-I want to try to find more that speak about the importance of bedside manner on
physical health.
-I have anticipate that my audience will expect to see scientific evidence that
supports my point, and to accommodate these expectations, I have cited many
different scholarly articles (mainly from science journals), that examine the issue
and test them at a certain level of statistical significance.
5) Fifth section: Share any concerns or questions you have about the project.
Where do you anticipate running into problems?
-I may run into problems fully understanding the medical studies, putting the
medicine into terms that my audience can understand, and transitioning from
the detailed medical stuff to the conclusion that my audience cares about/what I
want them to walk away with. It is a difficult balance to transition between them.
But based on the brainstorming I have done thus far, I feel fairly confident in my
ability to tie my various points together in a cohesive way.
-One of my main concerns was making sure that my point ends up being
communicated effectively to my audience, and they walk away with something
that they think is important. Do you think that my ideas thus far are in terms
that the public that makes medical decisions would care about?