Research Paper Topics and Instructions: You will write a 1000- to 1250-word research essay (approximately 4 to 5 pages) for this course, employing outside secondary sources. Your paper will be due no later than 11:59 p.m. through “Quizzes” in the Canvas classroom on the due date, which is listed in your syllabus. You must submit your paper as a Word attachment. Please note that I cannot open files OTHER than .rtf, .doc, or .docx. If your word processing program generates any other kind of file, please save your work as a .rtf file (when you’re saving your work, there’s a box called “Save as Type”—just scroll through that until you come to Rich Text Format and select). Topics: For your research paper, select one of the following topics as a starting point: Consider the advantages and disadvantages of city life, as it existed in Mesopotamia starting around 4000 B.C.E. Did the positives outweigh the negatives? Why or why not? How did Cyrus the Great win support and start the process of creating the Persian Empire? What did Plato argue in his work The Republic? Do you think that a society like the one he envisioned could exist? You will do research on the topic and develop a thesis, which you will prove with the use of secondary sources (you may use primary sources as well). A really good paper will not simply be descriptive; you should pose an analytical question and use your sources to answer it. Formatting: All of your papers should be double-spaced, with one-inch margins and in ten- or twelve-point type. Your papers should be carefully composed, organized effectively, and proofread. You will lose points for excessive grammar and spelling errors. You must include endnotes or footnotes and a bibliography, both in the Chicago style. I realize that many of you are not familiar with this citation style. However, it is standard in history and I require that you use it—you will lose points from your essay if you do not. To get started, you should refer to the Chicago Manual of Style (Links to an external site.) Links to an external site. . Remember, the sooner you acquaint yourself with the Chicago style, the less likely you are to be pulling your hair out in frustration half an hour before your paper is due. Sources: You must use at least three reputable, peer-reviewed outside sources that are not assigned as part of the class reading. You should use books from the library, or articles from scholarly journals, which you can access through the library’s article databases. To access those databases and use the library’s e-book collection (Links to an external site.) Links to an external site. , visit the library website and select the relevant link. There are a number of sources I do not want to see. You MAY NOT USE any encyclopedias (online or otherwise), non-academic and/or commercial websites, or any sources that are aimed at children. You will lose points if you do not use enough sources or you use improper sources. If you’re not sure whether the source you are considering using is correct or not, send me a link and I’ll look it over and let you know. Components: Title Page. This should include the title of your paper, your name, and the class for which you have submitted it. This should be its own page; it doesn’t count toward your minimum length, however. Don’t just jump into your topic and expect your reader to figure out what points you’re making as the essay goes along. Include an introduction, which should include the statement of your topic your thesis. Given the brevity of these essays, the introduction should not be longer than a half a page or so, and should briefly explain the parts of the paper that will follow. Main Body. This is where you can expand upon your topic, using references and specific examples, and drawing your conclusions from what you’ve presented. When you’re organizing your thoughts, consider how you’re going to use your evidence to support whatever argument you’re making–that is, what organization will allow you to make your point or points most effectively. You should also be sure to cite all of the sources that you use, either when you’ve quoted directly from them OR when you’ve used information from them, even if that information is reworded. Sum it all up. Remind your readers of where they’ve been and why they should believe the interpretations you’ve constructed from the evidence you’ve presented. This should go on a separate page from the last page of your paper, should be clearly labelled “Bibliography,” and, like your title page, does not count toward your overall paper length. Your bibliography should include all of the works you cited in the main body, and any others that may have influenced your thinking, even if you didn’t use them directly. Again, use formal, correct Chicago bibliographic style. I will deduct points for improperly-cited works. Stylistic Tips: Do not include the phrase, “According to the dictionary, x is…” Do not use the first person (“I,” “me,” etc.) or the second person (“you”). This is a formal essay. If you need to use a pronoun, it should be the indefinite “one.” Do not refer to any historical person, male or female, by his or her first name. Do not use contractions. Do not use lengthy quotes—these are brief papers. Additional Resources: The rubric I use to grade the papers is available in the Resources topic in Module in the Canvas classroom. I would strongly recommend that you look it over before you begin to write. For an overview of the research paper process, see Bowdoin’s website (Links to an external site.) Links to an external site. . The section on “Research”–you can find it by scrolling down the left-hand menu and clicking on the relevant link–is very helpful for getting started on your topic, and “Structuring Your Paper” includes a lot of great information as well.
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