The goals of this assignment are to help you:
• become more knowledgeable about finding and using varied research sources.
• further develop your critical thinking skills and back up your points with evidence.
• become more adept at synthesizing information and developing informed views.
• discipline yourself to follow a scholarly research format to document in-text sources and a reference page (MLA Works Cited).
Research Paper Question. Your paper begins with the research question. I won’t provide any specific examples yet; let’s see what you can come up with. In a separate post I will provide info regarding what this is and how to go about establishing one. I will need to see your research question by 11/19.
Don’t Plagiarize. Northern has excellent detection software. If you submit a plagiarized paper you will fail. If I catch you plagiarizing while I’m in a bad mood, I will see what penalties beyond F-for-the-class exist.
Topic: Even if you don’t realize it, your research paper began during the first week of the semester when you began gathering data on the semester’s broad topic: Covid. After you brainstorm about possible subjects and then select one, narrow your topic down to a manageable issue. Investigate possible approaches to your chosen topic and map out your strategy. Your final product will be judged on how well you succeed in producing a well though out, clear paper which shows you can interpret and intelligently discuss an aspect of Covid and how well you can backup your findings with evidence.
Approach: Your paper does not have a chance to be substantive unless you have substantive sources. Find 5 to 10 VARIED sources – including professional journal articles and professional publications, Internet sources, and possibly (but not required) interviews or other field research. It is a balancing act to find sources that you can understand – that relate to your level of study in your discipline, and, at the same time, challenge you intellectually. In this paper I do not want you to try and solve a problem or necessarily reach a conclusion. What I am looking for is evidence that you can gather a body of knowledge on a particular aspect of Covid, narrow it down to a particular focus and show that you can synthesize the information and make some intelligent, insightful argument about your topic. What I don ‘t want is just a regurgitation of information strung together. A significant part of the paper should be your interpretation of the information and how your knowledge about the topic has been enriched.
Remember, the focus of your paper should be in an area of Covid that is controversial. You will write an argument/persuasive or an analytical paper.
Your paper should contain these parts:
Introduction: Your introductory material should set up your topic for your audience. Briefly summarize your findings on the subject – If the sources disagree about the value of or perspective on the subject, point out the areas of disagreement. Your introduction should not meander around the point of your paper. It may be more than one paragraph in length, but at some point, very early in the paper you then need to start the substance of the paper. Your thesis should come at the end of your introductory material. State your thesis in the form of a sentence or two. It should not be in the form of a question but should begin in your Research Question. Your thesis should be a brief statement, in your own words, that points out an arguable or complex point within your broad topic. If you can’t articulate in a sentence or two (in answer to a workable research question) what your main point is then you probably don’t have a good idea of what you will be writing about.
Body of Paper: Use subheadings, where appropriate, to separate different aspects of your paper which support your controlling idea (your thesis). The body of your paper should provide supporting evidence to support your argument, in a logical, fully developed manner. For each new topic which supports your overall thesis, provide a topic sentence or two which is, in effect, the thesis for that sub-topic. If you do not use subheadings, you need to provide transition sentences to move your reader from one paragraph to the next. Your supporting sub-topics should address these issues: How will this knowledge advance science or technology or society – not in broad, abstract ways, but in concrete ways? What is are the points I’m attempting to make via my presentation? How will my presentation affect my audience?
A writer of a research paper should synthesize the information gained from sources and weave them into a well ordered discourse, using the sources as evidence to support key points. A paper which is just a string of quotes shows that the author made no attempt to come to grips with the subject and is relying on the sources to speak for her or him.
Conclusion: Your conclusion should make some “wrap up” statements about what you learned about your argument and the possible impact of your findings on people and perhaps society in general. Also, address any issues that may still not be resolved for you. Don’t be reluctant to address any issues that aren’t easily resolved or have negative or ambiguous outcomes. I am not necessarily looking for a neatly wrapped up conclusion with no loose ends. I am looking for a conscientious, thoughtful argument about some aspect of your chosen topic and even unanswered questions that may have been raised during your research and writing.
Audience: Your paper should be understood by a broader audience than I – for example, your classmates. You will have to explain concepts and not expect your audience to understand in-house jargon. Have a target audience in mind. Who would be interested in and benefit from your treatment of the subject? By anticipating your audience you can anticipate the kinds of questions that may arise.
Format: [Web-based papers will approximate these guidelines.]
MLA Guidelines. MLA in-text citations and works cited pages are covered here:
I recommend against the use of online citation engines.
I will have further information about this aspect of the paper next week.
Length – 6 to 8 double spaced pages of text (not including graphics, cover page, appendices, or reference page). Ten “rambling” pages is not better than 7 clear, fully developed pages. Title page does not count. Works Cited page does not count. A few sentences on a sheet of paper does not = a page. Any illustrations, appendices should appear in a separate section of your paper, to be explained as needed.
Margins – 1 inch top, bottom, left, right, should be set by the machine you are using.
Cover Page – Not required. If you chose to do one, should be in MLA style (which should include your name, course and section, date, my name. The title should give your audience a good idea of what your paper is about – not tease your audience. For example, a clear title might be: Covid: Will There Be a Vaccine? . This aspect is optional. You may choose the option to have your name and title on the first content page of your paper. Would look something like I Hate My Students by Steve Hesske centered on first content page after dropping down five spaces.
Pagination: Don’t worry about it. Let me know if you insist on page #s
Sources: Use a minimum of 5 varied and CURRENT sources – for example, journals in your major, Internet sources, interviews (no textbooks, please or encyclopedias – unless they are specialized encyclopedias for your topic area and you are using them for definitions of concepts. Check the source of all information for reliability. Is the Internet site sanctioned by a reputable institution or organization? Does the person you interview have credentials and experienced with your subject? Does he or she have a built in bias you need to address in your paper? What biases of your own may you have to be aware of to produce a scholarly look at this subject?
Documentation: Follow the online MLA Style Guide (latest version at Purdue OWL) for documenting the sources in your text and your Works Cite page. If you are unsure about a particular source, we can discuss it. Links provided above.
Use MLA parenthetical citations (citation information in text between parenthesis) for information that is someone’s opinion and is not common knowledge. Give parenthetical citation information for quotation sand paraphrases. Include page number(s) when available for direct quotes.
You must have at least one in-text citation per Works Cited entry (should be more). If you have questions about in-text citations after examining the link above, please email or text me.
Use quotes judiciously. Use them only when paraphrasing will make the statement unclear or a kernel of an idea is so perfectly stated that trying to paraphrase in your own words will ruin the impact of the statement. See the OWL MLA for how to handle long quotes.
“Long quotations. For quotations that are more than four lines of prose or three lines of verse, place quotations in a free-standing block of text and omit quotationmarks. Start the quotation on a new line, with the entire quote indented ½ inch from the left margin; maintain double-spacing.”
Appendices: Graphics or charts should only be used if they can clarify some concept in your paper. Don’t use them just for a “flashy” effect or for “gee whiz” value. If you include large graphics or charts, include each on a separate appendix page and label each one A, B, and so on. Refer to such appendices in the text where you discuss that issue. Graphs, charts, and appendices are not included as pages of text. They must be in addition to the 6 to 8 pages of writing required..
Any initial draft submitted without at least 5 in-text citations (for five different sources) and 5 Works Cited entries will automatically fail this assignment thereby failing the class.
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