INSTRUCTIONS FOR PAPER ASSIGNMENT - HIST 2112
This assignment requires you to write a 5 page paper on an issue or topic in US history, or a person who influenced a key issue or topic, in the period since 1865. YOU get to pick the topic, though I will provide a list of
possible choices. Whatever topic you pick, it must deal with the US during the time period specified. For example, you can choose the Civil Rights movement, or a person like Rosa Parks who influenced the development of
policy about slavery. You can examine the role of women in American society, or look at the role played by Betty Freidan regarding women's right. As a final example, you can discuss the conflict between the US and Spain
in the 1890's, or look into the role played by Teddy Roosevelt in that conflict. Be aware this is a short paper, so do not pick a topic that is too complex to cover in just 5 pages. YOU MUST GET YOUR TOPIC
APPROVED BY THE INSTRUCTOR! To encourage you to do so, everyone who has a topic approved within 2 weeks of the day after these instructions being posted will receive 5 bonus points.
Anyone who fails to have a topic approved will receive 0 bonus points.
Once you have a topic selected and approved, you will need to research your topic. You can use as many sources as you feel is appropriate, but you MUST utilize at least THREE sources, two of which MUST be books
published after 1990. Generally speaking, the more recent a source, the more accurate it is likely to be. You are responsible for acquiring your sources in a timely manner. Be aware, our library resources are limited, so you
will likely need to use public libraries or the GIL Express inter-library loan system to obtain your books. If you do not know how to use GIL Express, LEARN! Go to the library and POLITELY ask if they have a handout
or other guidance to teach you how to effectively use the system. Do not blame the library workers if you run into problems - they did not design the system and can do nothing to change it.
In regards to internet sources, I am reluctant to approve their use because so many students use grammar school level websites and/or are tempted to simply copy and paste information from the web. However, I will let you
use electronically published books and up to 2 internet sources with the following restrictions: 1) No "encyclopedia" sites - this means Wikipedia, Encyclopedia Britannica, etc. 2) You MUST provide me with the URL so I
can check the site out. Only if I approve the site can you use it in the paper. I will NOT approve any internet sites in the last 48 hours before the paper is due! 3) If you want to use an electronically published book as one of
your two "published since 1990" books, I must approve this in advance.
Once you have thoroughly researched your topic, you need to write a brief 5 page paper explaining the significance of the topic/person to US history since 1865. This means your paper cannot just be a recitation or
summary of what happened and when it happened, your paper needs to explain why it is important – answer questions such as “Why did it happen?” “What does it represent?” “What does it lead to?”
The final paper that you hand in will be worth 100 points and you will be graded based on your ability to support the arguments you make about the your topic – this includes not only the proper factual support but also
includes proper writing style and grammar. You are STRONGLY encouraged to submit rough drafts to the instructor ahead of the paper due date.
Your paper does not need a title page – I prefer if you just put your name and the title of the paper at the top of the first page. You will, however, need to use a bibliography/works cited page, and you will have to use
proper citations (either footnotes or endnotes) in your paper. The instructor will provide separate guidelines concerning when such citations are necessary and how you should include them in your paper. Be aware that a
bibliography/works cited page or an endnotes page do not count as one of the pages of your paper. For more information as to the proper way to cite sources, refer to this site.
If you have any questions about the assignment please see the instructor.
The following list includes grammar tips to keep in mind as you begin to write your paper.
1. As much as possible, avoid using the passive voice. (This means you should limit your use of verbs such as: is, was, are, were, etc.)
2. Be consistent in regards to past/present tense verbs – do not just jump back and forth between the two unless you have reason to do so. Generally speaking, when writing about the past, use past tense.
3. When mentioning an individual for the first time include their full name and title (if they have one).
4. Phrases or sentences quoted from any source should be kept to a minimum. I want your analysis, not a rewriting of what someone else has said.
Things to Avoid
1. Do not write in the first person. Say “James Burney argues that,” not “I think James Burney argues.” The entire review is your opinion, so you do not need to say “In my opinion . . .”
2. Do not simply write as if you were making a list. Your paper must have a flow to it and not be just a collection of sentences.
3. Do not use slang or clichés. Such things do not belong in a formal paper such as a book review. Also, limit the use of the word “very”.
4. In addition, keep in mind that contractions have no place in this paper. Use “do not” rather than “don’t.”
5. Do not repeat chunks of knowledge the reader can be expected to know. (For example, you do not need to point out that the Frenchmen live in France.)
6. Try to avoid the use of hyperbole, such as “This is the most significant event in world history.” Trust me, it is not, no matter how important it actually is.