Your assignment is to research “calls for papers” in journals or on the web and select one which focuses on a topic of interest within your chosen major or minor and then craft an argument about that topic. You are not required to submit your paper to either a journal or conference, but please consider it for the future.
If you are in a field which depends highly upon current research and developments, fields such as science, business, or psychology, you should choose a topic which is currently being debated in your field (an issue of real relevance within the last two years). If your major is in a less time-sensitive field, such as history or literature, try to select a topic which will allow you to offer a new, unique perspective on a classic debate. Conferences and journals are not interested in rehashing old debates.
For whatever topic you choose, you must develop an arguable thesis (i.e. an opinion statement, not factual) which will require you to convince people of your position. Your position may follow a problem/ solution set up again, or it may another pattern of your choosing, but your paper must have a clear argument (and not just be informative).
Then you must support this thesis throughout a research paper while incorporating opinions or data from scholars in your chosen field. Try to treat these outside sources as if you were having a conversation with the writer; allow them to inform your work, but do not allow them to overwhelm your own voice. Specifically, you must include a minimum of four scholarly journals or books in your work; you may also include primary source information from either a survey or interview that you conduct yourself. Ultimately, your paper should address opposing perspectives but build to a thoughtful conclusion of your own.
Another issue to keep in mind is your style. In addition to paying careful attention to your grammar and punctuation usage, you must incorporate rhetorical or stylistic devices you have learned in either this or other courses in order to make your argument more convincing or memorable (i.e. more appealing to your audience).
The paper itself must be 7-8 pages long (minimum of 1700 words), stapled, typed, double-spaced, in twelve point Times New Roman font, and containing one inch margins and a reference page. For 111 and 112, the paper should be in APA style, no matter your area of study. I expect to see consistent and interwoven support from your sources and the primary text in your paper (the research should not be an afterthought).
Moreover, your essay should include the basics of any sound written commentary*: (1) an early statement of the essay’s thesis (with an inherent argument), (2) a logical organization of materials in the argument, (3) sufficient support of your thesis via logic, collected data, scholarly opinions, etc., and (4) a clear summary of the materials you have assembled and their significance (explain your quotes). Finally, remember that saying something does not make it so; you have to prove it.
If you have an idea for a research paper topic that does not quite fit the requirements of the assignment, please talk to me about it some time soon. After the topic proposal has been turned in, I will only accept alternative topics in person and well before the first rough draft is due. So, please tell me if you are considering an alternative topic.
Good luck with your paper. Remember to hand in your final version to me physically as well as upload a copy of your paper to the school’s anti-plagiarism software. If you have questions or need help with anything, please let me know. Enjoy!
*The four commentary requirements were developed by Dr. Gianakaris, Western Michigan University
Things to remember
1. Investigate paper conferences. 2. Pick a relevant topic. 3. Make an argument. 4. You need four scholarly sources. 5. Keep style in mind. 6. The paper is in MLA and a minimum of 7 pages. 7. Give me a printed and a digital copy of your paper.
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