Research Paper Instructions
Description of Assignment
- For the research paper, your assignment is to research and write an 8-10 page essay examining a course-wide theme.
- Your paper must significantly engage with at least three primary sources assigned for this course, at least one of which must be a philosophical work (e.g., a work by Plato or Aristotle).
- The choice of theme is up to you. You may write on a theme you have already addressed in a previous paper or the midterm exam, but if you do, your paper must very substantially expand on the work you have already done. (As a rough guideline, no more than 20% of the paper may consist of â€œrecycledâ€ writing from previous work.)
- Your paper should articulate and defend a significant thesis related to your chosen theme. The thesis should be clearly stated at the end of the first paragraph of your paper.
- Because this is a philosophy-focused interdisciplinary course, your essay should also demonstrate:
- Because this is a research paper, we expect you to find and make use of at least six secondary sources that provide scholarly perspective on the primary sources you have chosen to work with. Peer-reviewed articles, books or book chapters, or encyclopedia articles are preferred; blogs, Wikipedia, and academic assistance websites (like Sparknotes) may be useful as starting points but do not qualify as scholarly sources (although you must still cite them if you quote or paraphrase from them). We strongly encourage you to make use of the Newman libraryâ€™s electronic databases for the purpose of finding your sources.
- This paper is due by 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, May 6.
oAn ability to evaluate a topic from both a literary/theatrical and a philosophical perspective, and
oAn ability to critically discuss and evaluate philosophical claims relating to the true, the just, or the beautiful as they arise in the course of your discussion.
Standards and Expectations
The successful paper will:
- Be between 2,000 and 3,000 words, not including bibliography.
- Be typed, double-spaced, use a standard 12-point font, and have 1-inch margins.
- Consistently and correctly use a standard citation style (Turabian, MLA, or APA). Note that textual evidence should always be introduced and explained in your own words; avoid simply inserting a quote without making clear what its meaning and purpose is within your essay.
- Provide a detailed, compelling, and well-supported argument in support of its thesis.
- Start with an introduction that grabs the readerâ€™s interest, clearly expresses the paperâ€™s thesis, and lays out a logical, easy-to-follow organizational plan.
- Follow the plan, developing the thesis in a clear, coherent, and well-supported manner.
- End with a concise summary of the overall argument and a brief statement about its significance.
Throughout the process of researching and writing your paper, we encourage you to return continually to two main questions:
- What claim am I attempting to defend (what is my thesis)?
- Why should my reader accept my claim (what is my evidence)?