Stephen W. Potts
These assignments are designed to encourage independent investigation of literature and related issues. Because the quizzes demand a focus on assigned texts, lectures, and class discussions, the papers provide you the opportunity to explore original territory in the field.They also monitor your abilities to formulate questions, topics, and theses of your own; to generate a thoughtful program of investigation and research; and to demonstrate your rhetorical and linguistic skills through the use of evidence and argumentation — of these valuable critical thinking tools you will need in any professional discipline.
Each paper must be 1500 words long (roughly five pages double-spaced in 12-point font) and make use of outside resources for purposes of quotation, evidence, and authoritative support. In most cases, that means a bibliography or “Works Cited” list of four to six sources, mostly critical works. You will find advice on how and where to seek acceptable sources on “Starting Points for Research” (below). Take advantage of it. Take advantage as well of my office hours, which will be expanded on the days indicated on the syllabus. I can help you formulate a topic that will interest you and a good thesis. Further suggestions for writing an “A” paper are appended as “Words for the Wise.”
THE LONG PROJECT OPTION: Some students will be allowed to turn in one long project instead of the two short papers. This project should be 3000 words long or the equivalent in other media. You must sign the permission sheet. To receive said permission you must:
The Fine Print: The university and the department have stringent regulations regarding cheating, plagiarizing, and turning in papers copied off the internet. We are asked to inform you that we have access to the same online sites and term paper services as you do, and means for comparison and identification. Past offenders can be visited in the cadaver vaults at the medical college.
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, you need to 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 much 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 short cuts.