Stephen W. Potts
Midterm and final paper assignments for LTWL 116 are now available online, as a page attached to the course description (left column) or below.
For each assignment (midterm and final), choose from the subject areas below, then formulate a specific topic to investigate (think of it as a question you are trying to answer) and a specific thesis you are attempting to prove (your potential answer to that question). Whatever your subject, you will need to take advantage of outside sources—articles, books, other critique—to support your argument, and you must append a list of these sources—roughly a handful (4-6); critical non-fiction works should outnumber fiction. Each paper is about 1500 words, approximately five pages double-spaced in 12-point font. Advice on performing your research is attached, as are the Ten Commandments for writing a good paper, entitled “Words for the Wise.”
THE LONG PROJECT OPTION: Some students with suitable writing experience will be allowed to turn in one long project instead of the two short papers. This project should be 3000 words long and include approximately twice as many research sources as the shorter papers. You must discuss the topic with me first and sign the permission sheet.
In the age of the Internet, an increasing number of students have come to believe that “research” means Googling for half an hour. While there are now more excellent resources than ever online, relatively few know how to find them or evaluate their usefulness. Besides, as students at UCSD, you are paying a lot for your education, some of which goes to support a superb library/research system on campus. Get your money’s worth: take advantage of this university’s facilities and its reputation for higher learning. As UCSD students, in fact, you may even access most of the university’s library and online resources from the comfort of your own home.
Not all research materials, whether in print or in photons, are created equal. For example, Cliff Notes, SparkNotes, and their equivalent are for high school students who haven’t done the reading, not for college students supporting critical arguments. Likewise, most general encyclopedias are so secondary school. That includes Wikipedia, which is simply an online encyclopedia; it may be useful for background and ideas, but it is not a quotable resource; at best it can point you to quotable resources. Instead, begin by turning to the many excellent reference works or databases available through the library website. Fortunately, UCSD offers access to many electronic journals and other potential research materials alongside the non-virtual books and periodicals in the library building itself.
Despite the many useful online sources, books and articles in print have information that is not available online. Use research in many media; anything else will look like intellectual laziness and affect your grade.
A 1500-word paper should have at least a handful of sources in “Works Cited”—that is, 4-6 items. Furthermore, these must actually be quoted and cited in your paper.