Stephen W. Potts
For each paper, devise a topic and thesis from one of the subject areas below. Think of your topic as a question you are trying to answer, and your thesis as 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 (4-5), not counting fiction. See further advice on research on “Starting Points” below.
Each paper should be 1200-1300 words, approximately four pages double-spaced in 12-point standard font. Further advice on producing a good paper is attached as “Words for the Wise.” Ignore the attachments only if you don’t care about grades. I will be happy to help anyone with topics, theses, and research options during office hours.
For both the midterm and final, formulate a topic from any of the following subject areas:
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 2500 words long and cite 8-10 outside sources. It can be fashioned from one of the subjects above or one of your own choosing. Before signing the long project permission sheet, 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 students, in fact, you even access many 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 university 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 inspiration, but it is not a quotable resource, though 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, such as the Literature Resource Center. Fortunately, UCSD offers access to many electronic journals and other potential research materials alongside the printed books and periodicals in the library building itself. Make use of resources in all media.