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Assignment: Each student will write a 6 to 8-page research paper on a topic that contributes to the study of American history since 1877. The purpose of this assignment is to write a research paper in history that analyzes sources to answer a research question.
1. Thesis statement. Take a clear position and precisely state the argument you will make in your research paper. You must have a thesis statement and defend it with carefully chosen, detailed evidence. The thesis must be clear and contain (in succinct form) the main points you will cover in your paper. The structure and order of the thesis should reflect the structure and order in your paper.
2. Organize your evidence carefully. Each paragraph should have a topic sentence that clearly links back to your thesis. Avoid making historical claims without making sure you provide sufficient evidence to prove your claim. You must use in-text citations per MLA format.
3. Document, document, document. For the research paper, at a minimum, you must use two scholarly, academic, well-researched secondary sources from the timeframe covered in the course that come from offline scholarly, academic printed books and academic journals. You cannot use textbooks (including your course textbook), encyclopedia articles, website articles that are not from an offline published academic journal, juvenile non-fiction books or articles, blogs, chats, or wiki sites (especially Wikipedia) as the two
mandatory sources for your paper. Keep in mind that every borrowed idea or phrase must be documented with in-text citations and a “Works Cited” section using MLA format. The following from the Yale Center for Teaching and Learning provides insight into why you are relying on offline scholarly sources only for this writing assignment: “Internet vs. Print Sources: Some professors will discourage you from using sources you find or access over the Internet. Although such restrictions may be excessive, there are reasons to be wary. It’s much easier to publish information on the Internet than to publish a book or periodical in print. Since it’s easier, Web posters are not always as careful to make sure that the information is accurate. For one thing, print publishing is more expensive, so many print publishers are careful not to make mistakes or to cut corners in case what they publish turns out to be unreliable—and therefore useless. The seeming anonymity of the Internet also encourages some people to write things quickly, without checking to be sure of their facts or their conclusions. Most of us have had the experience of sending by email something we wrote quickly—perhaps when rushed or angry. Often these are things we wouldn’t print, sign, and
mail, because those extra steps give us time to consider our words more carefully, and also because we recognize a higher expectation that things in print should be trustworthy.”
4. State your conclusion. Your conclusion must support your thesis, and should tie into your introduction.
5. Write clearly and concisely. You do not have space to waste words. Make every single sentence count. Use direct quotes sparingly and only when absolutely necessary. Grammar, spelling, and style do count. Use spell-check and grammar check as a minimum.
6. Format properly. Double-space (“0” point) your paper, with one-inch margins, using Times New Roman 12 font in MLA format. Your paper must include in-text citations and a Works Cited page listing the sources you are using. There must be a minimum of 5 and ½ pages of manuscript text plus the Works Cited page.
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