Model Assignments to Reduce PlagiarismThe following assignments offer useful models for planning, developing, and implementing course strategies to reduce the occasion of plagiarism. Many of these assignments utilize primary sources or require students to create their own projects; assignments may also state that students must use only recent sources, and may often include a detailed process of staggered deadlines to prevent the end-of-the-semester plagiarism by procrastinators. This interdisciplinary range covers the following topics:
- Working with Illuminated Manuscripts (Religion Studies and Art History)
- Editing a World War I Surgeon's Diary (English)
- The Problem of the Planets (Physics and Philosophy)
- Steel Lives (Technology-Based Teacher Education)
- Book Project on Asa Packer (Design Arts)
- Global Citizenship and the AIDS Pandemic (Global Citizenship)
- Explaining International Politics or Foreign Policy Outcomes (International Relations)
See also the University of California at Berkeley's Effective Assignments Using Library and Internet Resources.
Ben Wright (Religion Studies) and Ann Priester (Art History, Art & Architecture):
Working with Illuminated ManuscriptsIn the Special Collections of Lehigh’s library are a number of late 14th-16th century Books of Hours or prayerbooks. During the course of the semester you will be assigned to a group and each group will be examining and analyzing an entire Book of Hours or a portion of one. These books, as you will see, are often rich in illustrations that connect with the text of the scriptural readings or the prayers to be said. In a separate document we will give you the basic guidelines for the project and we will discuss it in greater detail as the semester progresses.
Each group should write a paper analyzing the images of their Book of Hours in the context of the book.
Format of your group paper (Due Dec. 2):
- Physical Description of book.
- Size & decoration of margins
- How initial letters are decorated
- Text and miniatures (pictures)
- A catalogue of the texts & accompanying miniatures
- What is the subject matter of the miniatures accompanying each section of text?
- An analysis of each of the major
miniatures in your book (similar to what you did in your first set of papers)
- Describe the miniature:
- What is happening
- Identify the textual sources relevant to each miniature
- Discuss how the artist uses
(or perhaps ignores) the textual sources
- What elements in the picture can be explained by which text, which elements in the picture cannot be explained by the text, which parts of the text does the artist not use?
- Discuss the stylistic characteristics
of the miniatures.
- Are they all by the same artist?
- In comparing your Book of Hours with others you see in your reading and from the Book of Hours links (under External Links), can you venture an approximate date and place of origin for your book?
- Describe the miniature:
- A catalogue of the texts & accompanying miniatures
We will be looking at the same sections of text and their illustrations for all the Books of Hours together, according to the schedule below:
Nov. 18. Calendars, Gospel lessons, Prayers to the BVM
Nov. 23. Office of the BVM
Nov. 30 Penitential Psalms, Hours of HS, Hours of Cross, Office of Dead
Be able to talk about and answer questions about your miniatures.
Given that in any one class, there may be a lot of images to look at, you should NOT prepare a long presentation, but be prepared to point out any unusual features and answer any questions that might come up. In addition to being able to talk about your miniatures, each group will be responsible for a 5-minute explanation of one of the standard sections of text.
Group 1: Calendars
Group 2: Gospel lessons
Group 3: Obsecro te & o intemerata
Group 4: Office of the Virgin
Group 5: Penitential Psalms
Group 6: Hours of the Holy Spirit
Group 7: Hours of the Cross
Group 8: Office of the Dead
Barbara Traister (English):
Editing a World War I Surgeon's DiaryWith the goals of helping Senior English majors practice some of the skills they had learned during their major courses and having them experience first-hand the steps necessary to turn a manuscript text into a print-published text, I chose a manuscript from Special Collections. It was a diary written by a surgeon, a Lehigh alumnus and eventual trustee, who volunteered to go to the battlefields of France during World War I. Six notebooks are filled with entries recording his day-to-day experiences for nearly ten months. The students deciphered, transcribed, and annotated this diary, establishing sets of rules and conventions about spelling, abbreviations, and acronyms which would make the work of ten people compatible. They wrote an introduction to the diary containing biographical information about its author, background information about the medicine practiced during WWI, and an overview of Dr. William Estes' experience. They created a medical glossary for the volume and wrote explanatory footnotes for difficult passages. Each student contributed particular skills and knowledge which helped the project, from the pre-med student who led the work on the medical glossary to the student who managed to combine the ten separate computer files into one consecutive text. As a final step, the students wrote a letter of inquiry to the Lehigh University Press, asking whether the manuscript might be appropriate for publication by the press.
Gary DeLeo (Physics) and Alex Levine (Philosophy):
Copernicus: The Problem of the Planets
(online syllabus in PDF)
Group Project TopicsAll group projects minimally require 1) an oral presentation, in which all group members participate; and 2) a written exegesis of results, illustrated where appropriate, suitable for posting to the web.
Group 1. Present a close reading of Book I of Copernicus, De Revolutionibus, with emphasis on the importance of passages marked with marginalia in Lehigh’s first edition. Explain the rhetorical and scientific function of Book I in historical context. Decipher the marginalia. What do they reveal about their author? What do they reveal about the contemporary reception of Copernicus’s work?
Group 2. Using the figures and explanations in Tycho Brahe’s Astronomiae Instauratae Mechanica, build a Tychonian sextant. Explain the differences between Tycho’s astronomical sextant and a sixteenth century navigational sextant. Record observations in a manner similar to that of Tycho Brahe for several stellar and planetary bodies over several weeks. Show that these observations can be understood in the context of the Copernican model.
Group 3. Determine the approximate technical specifications of a Galilean refracting telescope. Describe the operation and characteristics of the various types of reflecting telescopes, and the history of their development. Build a Newtonian reflector, using the closest possible approximations to seventeenth century materials. Using ray-tracing methods, describe the characteristics of this reflector, including magnification, light-gathering power, and resolving power. Using your telescope, perform observations of the Galilean satellites of Jupiter, sufficient to sketch rough plots of their orbits
Group 4. Describe the historical use of sundials in the study of celestial motion. Identify an outside object on the Lehigh campus that may be used as the gnomon of a sundial. Carefully record the gnomon’s shadow over several weeks, and use this to describe the apparent motion of the sun, particularly in the context of seasons. Construct equivalent gnomons for each member of your group, and compare observations made at different locations when traveling.
Group 5. Construct an optical device that would produce a projected image of the sun with suitable resolution to observe sunspots. Track the positions of sunspots over several weeks, and use this information to describe the rotation of the sun and the motion of the Earth about the sun (in the spirit of Galileo’s observations and interpretations). Discuss the observations made by Galileo.
Group 6. Work out the mathematics required to convert the orbital positions of several planets (including Earth) into local altitude and azimuth coordinates as viewed from any position on Earth at any time and date. Construct a computer program that will perform these geometrical calculations.
Group 7. Examine the economic and institutional (e.g., religious and political) environments of Copernicus and Galileo. Describe in detail how these conditions affected the technical methods used and the thought processes applied in their studies. Describe in detail how these conditions affected the dissemination and acceptance of their observations and conclusions.
Group 8. Discuss the history of time-keeping methods (science of chronology), including the various calendars used in the past, and in use today. Discuss the compatibility of celestial and non-celestial time keeping methods. Consider various ancient and modern structures around the world that are or were used to keep track of the passage of time (e.g., Stonehenge). Describe modern methods of recording the times of events as used by astronomers.
Group 9. Examine the history of studies relating to the apparent motion of the moon, including position in the sky, phases, librational motions, and tidal effects on the Earth. Describe how these observations were explained in the context of pre-Copernican and Copernican models of the solar system. Discuss details that remained unexplained until more recent times (twentieth century), and the explanations in terms of modern physical principles.
Group 10. Discuss the relation between celestial observations and the determination of terrestrial position in the seventeenth-century context. Consider problems of both land and sea navigation. To what degree, and in what contexts are ancient and early modern methods still in use?
Kathryn DiPietro (Technology-Based Teacher Education)
Steel LivesDuring Fall 2004, I was charged with the task of developing a new course at Lehigh--Tools for K-12 Teaching and Learning. The intent of this graduate level course for preservice teachers was to focus on high-level technology skills including multimedia, video, audio, graphic manipulation, web-design and creation as well as some other skills. A class focusing on technology skills did not sit well with the Kathryn who is a constructivist!
During the summer, I spent time reading up on the oral story telling as well as found some great sites and information on digital story telling. Small films or shorts with an independent film style are created by laypeople to reveal an aspect of their world or to tell a story using digital media much like oral histories. Frequently these films are compressed to Quicktime .mov s or Real Player .rm files and shared via the web.
I put the three components together and created Steel Lives-- a project that embedded preservice teachers in a complex learning task that allowed them to acquire the technology skills while applying them to solve a real-world problem.
While working on Steel Lives, pre-service teachers learned the technology skills in the context of applying them to solve a real-world problem. They were charged with the task of finding out the influence and impact of Bethlehem Steel on the Lehigh Valley. They were asked to use multiple resources to do that as well as look at the content from multiple perspectives. As they investigated the influence/impact of "The Steel," they were asked to use digital video/storytelling to give voice people whose lives were touched in some way by Bethlehem Steel. Once the video stories were compiled, students used them to draw conclusions about the experience of Bethlehem Steel and what it meant to the Valley and the people of the area.
Finally, students self-evaluated their learning in terms of content, processes, and product and made recommendations for further learning. This process allowed me, as a teacher educator whose focus is to prepare technology literate teachers, to both model and to engage my students in a learning environment that emulated for them effective planning and designing of learning environments that apply current research in relationship to both constructivist learning and problem-based learning while they acquired a sound understanding of technology operations.
The learning was complex, learner-centered, and required the use of higher-order thinking skills and creativity as students self-directed to build a concept of Bethlehem Steel, its influence/impact, and to represent that accurately and creatively in their digital videos. The videos and a rubric served as an assessment tool for them to self-evaluate and re-direct their learning in terms of what they discovered about "The Steel" and the community who was touched by it as well as their own learning processes, technology, storytelling, and film-making skills. This was all within the context of society as they used the technology to give voice to and empower former steel workers.
The culminating activity was a showing of the movie. All 22 of The Steel workers were invited to the Classroom of the Future in Iacocca Hall at Lehigh. Iacocca Hall, on the top of South Mountain, is the former home to Bethlehem Steels research and development department. It was a powerful experience to bring together 22 graduate students and the former Bethlehem Steel workers they interviewed to reveal "Steel Lives." We sat for 3 hours watching the movies, captivated by the personalities and the emotions that telling their stories revealed. Listening to Ed O’Brien, Richie Check, Dick Roberts and others as they paint a picture of their lives as steel workers at the steel giant Bethlehem Steel is an experience that will surely remain with you.
Let me remind you that these movies were made by novices who had never storyboarded, shot, produced, or edited a movie prior to this experience. And even more striking is that these were done in a 3-week time frame from start to finish.
Sample projects: (install the free *basic* RealPlayer to view)
- The Bethlehem Steel: A Steel Worker's Perspective
- Bethlehem Steel by Dana M. Clymer
- Bethlehem Steel by Melissa Clymer
- Steel Lives: A Look at Bethlehem Steel by Tara Gerstner
Thom Lepley (Design Arts, Art & Architecture)
Senior Design Research Project: Books about Asa PackerSee web presentation at ASA 200: Birthday Books for Asa Packer
Students embark on a factfinding mission to uncover as much information as they can on one specific topic. They are introduced to a variety of methods in researching and explore historical as well as contemporary data. This gives them a body of work to study and learn from.
In tandem with this process, the topic is further dimensioned by presentations from people outside the classroom. Once the students have a developed sense of the subject, they are asked to write one to two pages about it. It is from these pages that the instructor meets individually with each student to assess a direction for development. Students may work with purely historical or faculty correct information. They may choose to evolve a more creative form- such as scriptwriting or even poetry. The emphasis is that the writing should spring from them and develop into a mature state.
The writing is then equated in terms of pages and students begin a process of learning page design and layout. As their pages emerge into a set number of pages, they then explore the basics of book design which incorporates ideas for covers, title pages, etc.
In its final form, students will have produced a finished handbound book with original writing which is projected to raise the consciousness of the topic. The goal is to make the work interesting enough for someone else to open it and read it.
The evolution of this project has been to involve many people in a process to yield the most compelling idea to work from. The instructor encourages outside instructors from other disciplines to combine their knowledge with this project, magnifying the breadth of a topic which may begin as a boring exercise. Students see firsthand from these experiences that a subject can unfold in unique ways, thus offering them the ability to think more expansively about information they may not otherwise have interest in.
In reality, this is a graphic design project, meant to introduce senior students to a means of creating a small body of work with contemporary substance. Because the instructor would like those in other fields—such as history or journalism or even science—to be involved, these students derive a larger sense of how one topic can have more meaning for many people, based upon the perspective gained. It is experiential, in that the many ways of uncovering information—through both research and the information from diverse people and places—helps to unfold circumstances of unique connections, creative environments for linking ideas.
This is also a project which could evolve over one year—in two parts, with one semester on the writing and one on fabricating how the writing will take its form in a book.
The initial project I gave senior students was to learn as much as they could about Asa Packer. They were then to produce their vision of what his life meant to them. They were not encouraged to write about their own feelings about this man, but to point towards interesting facts, connections, and contemporary insight which stems from Mr. Packer. The students in this class are also encouraged to think more visually, to study artifacts and evidence of Asa’s lifespan. Their own exploration of how to tell a unique story develops as the students gain perspective on ways to define this man. In all cases, students are encouraged to give substance to their writing, to effect and individual frame of reference which gives more meaning to this man and his legacy.
Wes Atkinson (English)
Global Citizenship CourseASSIGNMENT #1
Find an article that pertains to our March 1st, 2005 meeting with UN representatives about AIDS and pharmaceutical companies. This article must contain information about two of the three major “players” of our meeting: AIDS, the UN, and pharmaceutical companies. If you find an article about all three, more power to you. The article must also not be more than one year old.
By “article” I mean a newspaper article, magazine article, journal article or short reporting in any other respectable periodical. Anything less than 250 words (about one typed page) will not be long enough to respond to.
After reviewing your selected text, write a short response. You can respond to any number of issues, including nature of the “facts” revealed, the underlying assumptions behind such “facts,” the credibility of the news source and the tone of the article. However, I want you to focus on the content of the article and its connection to AIDS, the UN, globalization and pharmaceutical companies more than the delivery itself.
Length: 1 page, single-spaced
Point Value: 10 points. Automatic 5-point reduction for late papers and papers that do not fill one page (two inches of white between last line and bottom of page max).
In class, give a five to ten-minute presentation on the article you responded to. In your presentation, be sure to give a brief synopsis of the article and publication, followed by your own thoughts on the article and its relevance to our upcoming visit. Please don’t bore us by reading directly from your paper. At the end of your presentation you should ask the class a well-formulated question (try writing it out before class) that you could ask the UN representative based on the information in your article. Be prepared to answer questions from the class.
Duration: 5-10 minutes.
Point Value: 10 points.
Chaim Kaufmann (International Relations)
Instructions for IR 334 Research PapersI. General Instructions
Explain some important outcome in international politics or foreign policy -- this could be either a momentary event or decision, or a broad pattern of behavior or outcomes -- that has implications for the prospects for peace in first half of the 21st century, either globally, or in a specific region.
Needless to say, the event(s) to be explained must have already occurred; we can speculate about the future, and at best predict it, but we cannot explain it. Your paper should first explain the event, and then briefly follow out the implications for policy today.
Examples of possible projects could include:
1) Under what circumstances due governments intentionally promote nationalist feeling in their publics? Under what circumstances does this cause “blowback” that forces leaders to adopt more aggressive foreign policies than they might wish? Is China at risk today?
2) How much did the nature of the American political system or society contribute to the deepening of the Cold War? Is there reason to believe that the American political system “needs” an enemy? (An answer to this would affect our judgment as to whether it will soon find a new one, such as China.)
3) Why did Napoleonic France, Wilhelmian and Hitlerian Germany, and the Soviet Union come to be surrounded by rings of enemies? What are the implications for whether the United States’ extraordinary degree of international economic and military primacy is likely to provoke counter-balancing?
4) Why has the number of terrorist attacks against American and American-allied targets worldwide increased since we conquered Iraq?
Possibilities are limited only by your interest.
Note that a question like: “Will democracy succeed in Russia?” would not satisfy the requirement, as this calls for speculation rather than explanation. We could, however, define projects that would help inform our judgment on this, for instance: Does a sharp decline in a state’s international standing (Germany after World War I, France in 1940, Russia after 1989, etc.) tend to undermine democracy in that country?
You must state your project in the form of a question. This is the only way to explain to the reader what you are trying to accomplish, and to keep clear in your own mind as you do your research what issues are and are not relevant. Thus “United States policy towards the rise of Chinese power” would not be acceptable; A valid project could be: What accounts for recent changes (or, perhaps, the relative lack of change(?)) in U.S. policy toward China?
Your paper should identify the major competing explanations for your event(s) and [should also] design and carry out tests that will help you assess their relative validity.
While your paper need not be specifically aimed at testing a particular theory, competing explanations for any outcome are almost always based on more general explanations about how things work (i.e., theories). Therefore you will probably find it necessary identify the underlying general explanations that have been used, or could be used, to form specific explanations for your event(s).
Also, often people choose questions precisely because a well-known theory would have predicted a different outcome. For instance, I have a student working on a thesis that attempts to explain why Belgium sought independence from the Netherlands in the 1830s, something that at least one major theory of nationalism would have predicted should not have happened.
Your ultimate explanation of the event(s) you study in your paper will, in turn, affect your beliefs about the validity of these more general explanations/theories, which will in turn affect your expectations about what will happen in the future under different conditions. It is in this way that theory testing is the necessary basis for all policy choice.
In terms of Van Evera’s typology on pp. 89-95 of his Guide to Methods, your paper could be almost any mix of Types 2, 3, 5, and/or 6. (Nominally, Van Evera’s purpose here is to suggest types of Ph.D. dissertations, but in practice the same categories apply to any social science research projects).
Projects of Type 4 or 7 (policy prescription and prediction of the future) are not acceptable.
If anyone has an idea that you would like to pursue as a project of Type 1 (theory-proposing), see me.
A note on standards of fairness: While you may have a favorite explanation even at the beginning of your project, it is essential that you treat alternative explanations fully seriously. Make sure to “argue against yourself” with at least as much vigor and care as you pursue arguments that you favor.
This is the only way that you can make arguments that will be persuasive to people who are not already in full agreement with you—whether in scholarship, in politics, in business, or any other setting. Experience shows that taking this task seriously is also the most common difference between good and bad papers in this course.
II. Specific Instructions for Each Stage
First Assignment (Proposal): Follow the instructions for parts 1 and 2 on pp. 115-116 of Van Evera.
1) What is your question? Be as clear and detailed as possible about exactly what aspect(s) of the event(s) you intend to explain. E.g., “Why hasn’t Russia returned the Southern Kuriles to Japan even though Gorbachev promised to do so and a great deal of Japanese investment and aid might be forthcoming if they did?” Then elaborate the subsidiary questions raised by your main question, e.g., “What are the sources of the Russian and the Japanese claims to these islands?” and perhaps “How badly does the Russian Far East need additional infusions of Japanese capital?”
There is a natural tendency to choose questions that, although interesting, are too large for a semester paper. Use the proposal to try to cut it down to manageable size. The best paper questions will engage big issues, but actually require solving only a very narrow matter of fact. Contact me if you need help focusing your question.
2) Why is your question important? What are the more general explanations/theories that are engaged by your question, and how would different answers to it strengthen or weaken our belief in one argument versus another?
Provide a 2nd paragraph explaining how different answers to your question have different implications for the peace of the world or some part of it. Think BIG. A satisfying explanation for your event(s) will almost surely have implications far beyond that event, or those countries, or that time period.
MAXIMUM length of this assignment: 2 pages.
Second Assignment (First Draft): First, provide an introduction in the format recommend by Van Evera on pp. 100-103. Note that:
- You will have already done parts 1 and 2 once in your proposal; revise as necessary.
- Part 3 should state your findings. If the findings are as yet tentative, or ambiguous, or conflicting, explain. Simple, definite conclusions should be reported only if that is what you actually have. What counts is the quality of the research, not the simplicity of the findings.
- Part 4 should be minimal, since you will devote a major section of the paper to this issue.
- Part 5 should also be minimal, since you will also devote a major section of the paper to this issue.
- Part 6 – the “road map” – can skipped.
Second, write a literature review section for your paper. That is, provide a thorough answer to question #4 of the introduction:
What is the state of knowledge/state of debate on your question? How many distinct schools of thought are there? Who are the most important proponents of each? What is the argument of each about the causes of the outcome(s) you are interested in?
Do not simply list authors and summarize the views of each; rather, it is your job to impose order on the debate and describe it clearly; cite individual authors to illustrate how you have structured the debate.
You may find the existing literature confused – different definitions of concepts, perhaps some more useful than others; maybe different labels of essentially the same arguments or concepts; etc. In such cases, you must impose order on the debate and present a clear summary to the reader.
The most serious problem you may encounter (and a likely one) will be arguments that purport to explain specific cases, but describe their underlying causal thinking poorly or not at all. You may need to work backward from the case-specific claims to what you think the underlying theories must be—i.e., to what a person would have to believe about how the world works in order to believe these explanations of these cases.
If you are lucky, you may find one particular author who has already done a good job of explaining the debate; in that case, feel free to borrow as much as you find useful—giving credit where it is due, of course.
Third, write a section on testing methods; that is, provide a thorough answer to question #5 of the introduction:
Note that the important question is “What matters of fact do you need to settle, and how will settling them help solve your original question?” and not: “What sources will you consult?” Ordinarily you should devote all your space to explaining which matters of evidence matter, why, and how. You should devote no space to discussing sources. You should discuss sourcing issues only if obtaining certain information presents special problems; then describe what you plan to do about this.
Often this section will contain a discussion of which case(s) you plan to study, and why, or a discussion of how you plan to break down what may at first appear as a single case into a larger number of separate observable outcomes (as Pape does in his chapter on why Japan surrendered).
Fourth, carry out the tests you have promised. Collect the relevant data, report it, and summarize its meaning for resolving your question. This will probably be the longest section of your paper. It will almost always be best to organize subsections by the factual questions that you identified in the testing methods section, or—sometimes—by cases. A simple chronological narrative is almost never the best choice, because it may cause you to include irrelevant information, and may also obscure which information is most important, and why.
Use tables to summarize your data, making it easy for the reader (and you) to understand the relationships between variables and the similarities (and contrasts) between cases.
Do not worry about the polish of your paper at this point. Focus instead on obtaining the most useful and relevant information and organizing it logically. By this point you should be able to determine whether there are gaps in your data, and what you will need to do to fill them. Will your test design have to be modified in any way? Are there additional cases you should examine, or additional questions that you should ask of your current cases?
You should also be able to determine whether any of the important factual issues will be difficult to resolve, and why. Where facts are controversial, explain how you determined which source(s) to treat as most reliable, and whether you were able to resolve the controversy to your satisfaction. (Never rely on a single source on any controversial matter.)
Where data has proved difficult to obtain – perhaps because records are unavailable, or never existed – determine whether there is any available substitute that will serve (almost) equally well. If certain ambiguities ultimately cannot be resolved, explain to what degree your conclusions might have to be limited.
Fifth, your final paper will provide a short concluding section—although this can be omitted at the first draft stage if you wish.
The conclusion should summarize very briefly your conclusions about your original question, and explain why your conclusions should be considered robust (or not so robust)—and, possibly, how broadly you think they may apply to additional problems. Do not rehash your argument or provide new data.
Then explain the implications of your findings for the current or future policy problem that motivated your paper in the first place—as well as implications for other problems, if you think it has any. Normally, this part will take up most of the space in the concluding section.
If you have suggestions for further research, or additional comments about anything you learned in this process, did not learn, or would like to figure out how to learn, include them.
This organization, or something reasonably like it, is required. While not all of the best papers (in academe or in business) use this organization, it does make it especially easy for the author to keep track of what tasks need doing, and which issues are relevant and which are not. See also the advice in Van Evera, pp. 99-111.
MAXIMUM length: 20 pages (not counting charts, tables, etc.) I recommend (very roughly) 2 pages for the introduction, 5 for the literature review, 4 for the methods section, and about 9 for evidence, findings, and conclusions.
Third Assignment (Critique of Colleague’s Paper): Each of you will provide written feedback on the first draft of one of your colleagues. Focus your comments on the persuasiveness of the argument, which means on your confidence that:
1) the author’s characterizations of the alternative explanations for the event(s) to be explained are fair. You may find that you do not feel qualified to judge certain points with high confidence, but nevertheless are not convinced that the author has presented the evidence fully of fairly. Explain your qualms.
2) whether the research design/selection of evidence is appropriate to the question;
3) the completeness of the evidence. This question is not completely fair, since the author will not have completed his/her research, but you should nevertheless emphasize the directions in which you think the author needs to concentrate from this point.
4) the use of evidence, especially the persuasiveness of the interpretation of specific items of evidence.
5) Don’t provide advice on organization or writing style, except in the extreme case that organizational problems make an author’s arguments impossible to follow.
6) You need not respond to the conclusion, if one was included.
The core question around which you should focus your critique is: Are you persuaded or not, and why? Most important, provide marching orders. What would the author have to do to the paper to persuade you to accept his/her conclusions? Make these as concrete as you can.
Length: No minimum or maximum, roughly 4-5 pages. Provide as a separate document (2 copies: one to the author, one to me).
Fourth Assignment (Final Draft): Improve your paper to respond the criticisms provided by your colleague and by the instructor, and/or in any other ways that you can. Substantial improvement is expected; in the unlikely case that a person simply turned in their first draft again, the grade the second time would be much lower.
MAXIMUM length: 20 pages. Since a conclusion is now required, and since you will need to respond to queries raised by me or by your colleague’s critique, you will need to edit judiciously to stay within the page limit.
III. General Instructions
Instructor Feedback/Meetings with Instructor: Each of you will meet with me to discuss your proposal, and will receive written feedback from me on your first draft.
You should also seek me out whenever you feel the need to. Especially, many of you may find it helpful to have additional follow-up meetings between the proposal and the first draft, perhaps on your literature review, your methods section, or both.
Sources: Many students who have grown up since the advent of the Internet have excellent web research skills, but corresponding reduced library skills. This is a serious problem for the quality of work of all kinds because traditional mainstream sources (mainstream media, academic books and journals, etc.) have vetting processes that help them weed out at least some low-quality information, but the web, by nature, cannot not have such filters.
Accordingly, you may use web-based databases such as Lexis-Nexis as research tools; today no one could function without them. There is nothing wrong with using the web to locate sources – provided that you can identify the publishing organization. (Material from personal web pages of experts or scholars who also publish in mainstream outlets, or from expert or advocacy organizations that have good reputations for fairness and accuracy, is also acceptable.)
If, however, the publisher does not meet these standards – you must do your best to identify any possible political biases (if there is anything interesting to report, do so in a footnote). You may not use sources that appear only on the web and whose backers you cannot clearly identify.
See also Gibaldi, pp. 41-45, on evaluating sources.
Citation Standards and Writing Style: Follow the advice offered in Joseph Gibaldi, MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 6th ed. (New York: Modern Language Association, 2003). You may use either “scientific format,” (covered in Gibaldi, chapters 5-6), or “standard format” (covered in appendix B). I personally prefer standard format, but you may use either so long as you do so consistently and accurately (if you do use standard format, use footnotes, not endnotes). The format used in Pape’s article assigned for session #3 is one example of a good model to follow.
Note that scientific format requires a bibliography—which does count against page limits—but standard format does not.
On how to cite internet sources: If the document is also published in print form—e.g., a newspaper, or journal article—cite that. For web-only publications, Gibaldi covers most of what you need, but if you need additional help, try “MLA Style for Electronic Formats,” found on Lehigh's website under /libraries/electronic resources/footnotes. Note that MLA style requires more than just the URL. In effect web sites are treated in most ways as ordinary documents, with the URL serving, more or less, as the publication information.
Scheduling and related issues: See the course syllabus.
IV. Advice and Opportunities
Read many books! Or at least, gather many books. Many of the sources you will need may be books that Lehigh does not own. This means you may have to make extensive use of PALCI or ILL, and given the delays inherent in these, you must submit your requests very early if they are to arrive in time to help you.
Therefore you should, very early in the semester—probably while preparing your proposal in late January/early February—conduct a search on your question in a major university catalogue (I recommend HOLLIS, the Harvard University catalogue); also search the Social Science Citation Index (SSCI) for articles in journals that Lehigh may not own. See my ‘Chaining’ memo (on the web site) for advice on how to do this.
Then continue this practice as your project evolves. Order from ILL lavishly and often. 50+ requests – no, I’m not kidding – would be fully appropriate, since you won’t know yet what will prove useful and what not. Be a pack rat – fill your room with stuff; sort out later what you really need. The alternative is finding out, way too late, that you lack something you now realize that you desperately need.
Related extra credit opportunity: You may submit to me a list of 5 books or monographs (not journals) that Lehigh does not own but that you think it should. It is not necessary that you have fully read each item, but you should have seen it so that you can provide a short annotation—one or two sentences—explaining why Lehigh should buy the book. You must also confirm: that Lehigh does not own it or have it on order (ASA can answer this); that it is still in print (check Books in Print online if it is not recent); and provide a full citation.
Contrary to all other assignments for this course, submit via e-mail, not on paper.
Worth 1% of your final course grade; maximum two submissions per person.
Prize opportunity: Each Spring, Lehigh holds a Williams Senior Essay prize competition. Prizes are large. There are three prizes in each of 6-8 different subject areas, and 1st prize in each category can run $800 or more. In the last four seminars I taught, class members won a total of two 1st prizes and two 2nds, for about $2,000 total.
The only requirements are:
- You must have senior standing; and
- The submission date is usually around the 2nd week of April, so you would have to have a finished, polished, paper by that time.
I will be happy to assist any student who wishes to enter in accelerating your project to meet the submission deadline.
Papers that are intended for the Williams Prize contest will be allowed up to 25 pages instead of 20.