Posted: January 9th, 2022
The ultimate paper you will be writing will be on the order of 2500-3000 words and around 8-12 cited sources, though I leave it up to you to use judiciously any sources you’ve submitted previously or replacing these with other sources that you find helpful to your argument (per the usual dictum, I am less concerned with numbers—of words or of sources—than with you covering your selected topic as you believe fitting).
Make your argument clear and logical; keep your writing clear and succinct. You may use any citation style you are comfortable with; be consistent. I also don’t need a cover page, but there are a few formal elements your paper should contain:
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- a title: it should be original to your topic (e.g. don’t submit a paper entitled “Final Paper” or “Sociology Paper”) and somehow describe your paper topic.
- an abstract: Abstracts should lay out in just a few sentences your topic, the thesis you aim to demonstrate, how you go about approaching your thesis, and what you have found. In other words, it should be a micro-version of your whole paper. Too often (and too many professional academics do this) authors use the abstract solely to create intrigue about their topic or their paper, but really what is needed is letting the reader know your conclusion right away. One version of an abstract might look roughly like this:
Environmental research has often looked at issue A from the perspective of how process B functions. Rather than using process B, I argue a way to better understand issue A has been through the lens of how social group C has managed this. My paper explores issue A through group C, concluding that group C’s success has broader applicability for mitigating issue A in the future.
- the abstract should be followed by a few keywords—either the keywords you’ve previously submitted with your proposal or bibliography, or consider words that more appropriately represent the topic you are writing about.
- the main body of your paper, including an introduction (including the thesis), evidence, analysis of evidence, and conclusion. (You are not required to divide your paper into sections, though I do generally find this helpful to both you as writer as well as to your reader for clarifying where you are in your argument. I also highly, highly recommend composing an outline of your argument—even if you’ve started writing, go back and re-outline to make sure you have your argument in order).
- the citations (not annotated, just listed in the bibliographic format you are comfortable with).
(And you are welcome to put your name in the header and pagination in the footer)