Reflecting on my Inquiry Process


The topic for my research this term was the athlete compensation controversy. I looked into why athletes should be compensated monetarily beyond their scholarships. I chose this topic because as the years go by and sports in the United States become increasingly large, the debate of whether or not student athletes should be paid becomes quite heated. This was a topic that at the beginning of my inquiry process I honestly had no idea what my opinion was. Because of this, I shaped my inquiry question in a way that guided me through my research. My inquiry question was the following:

How should D1 student athletes be compensated for playing sports beyond their scholarship? 

By constructing my question as an open ended question, this question framed my research in a way so that I am focusing on how college athletes should be compensated outside of their scholarships. It requires me to look at the topic from multiple different sides or opinions before I was able to come to a opinion myself. It also allows me to come up with an extensive amount of search results to pick and chose sources from. 

Source Selection 

When choosing sources for a research project, it can be very helpful if you have a general guide or list of criteria each source needs to include include in order to use it. My list of criteria for choosing sources is:

  1. Does the information in this source directly help me answer my inquiry question? 
  2.  Is the source created/edited by someone who is a credited and  reliable author?
  3. Does the source provide me different information than sources I’ve already selected? 

I chose these criteria each for different reasons. The first one I chose because it will make sure I stay on topic and focused throughout my inquiry process, as well as ensuring that my sources are helping contribute to answering my initial inquiry question. The second one I chose will ensure that my sources contain information that is accurate, presented by someone who is knowledgeable and qualified in the subject matter. Finally, the third one I chose will ensure that I was building a strong/effective argument by obtaining new ideas during the process.

Among the many sources I didn’t chose to use in my article, one in particular was from the Huffington Post, Should College Athletes be Paid? by Jeremy Engle. I chose against this article when selecting sources primarily because of two reasons. The first being who wrote it. The author of this article, Jeremy Engle, is known for his work as a classroom humanities and documentary-making teacher, professional developer and curriculum designer working with students and teachers across the country. Not exactly an expert in the  sports world. The second reason I chose not to use this article is because it does not have its own opinion. The article just offers ideas for thought and not necessarily specific opinions.

On the other hand, one source that I kept was a documentary by HBO called Student Athlete. The documentary was directed and executive produced by LeBron James, a very famous NBA player. Student Athlete unveils the exploitative world of high-revenue college sports through the stories of young men at varying stages in their athletic careers. The film follows former players, a former coach that now advocates for players, and a shoe rep who is ready to expose the NCAA. I chose this documentary because it fulfilled all of my criteria above by presenting the documentary from the students point of view.

Considering that sports are such a big deal in America, there are many people who choose to post whatever they feel on a certain topic with out having any knowledge in the subject area. Therefore, my first issue issue could be accessing posts on websites, blogs, or social medias that are written by creditable authors/reporters.

To avoid the issue of finding sources that were written by unreliable authors, I made sure to read into each author and their background before selecting the article, post, or web page as one of my sources.

Source Overview 

As a result of my inquiry process, I learned and discovered many new things about my topic. A few are the following:

  1. The main way student athletes are exploited is through advertisements for the school/sports team 
  2. Big brands use student athletes as free advertising 
  3. The ban on compensation to student athletes needs to be universal throughout all sports 

I learned the first two listed above mainly from the HBO documentary Student Athlete and The Huffington Post articles. They were well written by authors who’s professions revolved around sports analyzing. The third idea that is listed above I learned about from CBS Sports who’s authors work was also mainly in the sports field. 

Out of all of the sources I selected to help me answer my inquiry process, the HBO documentary Student Athletehelped me the most. The documentary followed four student athletes and one former head coach from their point of view on the subject. This was also the source that I found the most exciting and interesting by far!

The film was very engaging to me because it was shot in such a compelling way that after I watched it I knew exactly what my opinion was on the subject. This is what in turn helped me write my online argumentative article.

Key Takeaways 

Throughout this inquiry process I not only learned about my topic, but I learned a lot about myself as a researcher as well. Before this process, I thought of myself as a pretty good and through researcher. But as I continued through the sources selection part of the inquiry process, I found that is not always the case.

I found that I can tend to be a inattentive researcher. Early on I found myself only reading headlines of articles and barely skimming through the article to look for words that related to my topic. Thankfully my peers noticed this during peer review time and helped me to change this habit immediately.

Next time I engage in the inquiry process I plan to make a few changes to how I approach this. Some of those changes are:

  • Spending more time in the research process
    • in order to expose myself to a vast variety of options for sources
  • Write down more notes as I change up search terms
    • in order to make my inquiry process reflections more accurate

One thing I found really successful was my use of films to support the answer to my inquiry question. In the past terms where I’ve engaged in the process I never thought to look and see if there were any documentary’s, movies, TV shows, or Youtube videos that could help me in finding more information about my topic. My use of the documentary was successful because it explained the issues with my topic better than I could.

After going through the inquiry process in each of my writing classes over three terms, you could say I’ve found what works and what doesn’t. So if I were to give advice to someone who is starting the process for the first time I would say the following:

  • Make sure you choose a inquiry question that you don’t know the answer to 
    • this helps you when actually trying to make an unbiased opinion on the subject
  • Take through notes as you progress in the source selection process 
    • especially search terms as it will help you later on in the reflection part of the process
  • Explore all of the resources available to you when looking for sources. 
    • this allows you with a vast variety of options for your source selections
  • Make sure you take the time to read through the whole article, web page, post, etc. that you want to use as a source 
    • this is so you are making sure you are choosing sources that will legitimately help you answer the inquiry question

Theses are things I wish I would have known before starting my first inquiry process assignment, so its best to caution and educate others as well!

Works Cited 

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