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Rationale:  

The main goal for writing this paper is analyze a popular culturerelationship book, using both personal and academic expertise to critique the claims made in the book.  In doing this, communication graduate students will demonstrate how to read various information sources, identify key features of each, critique and analyze these in a logical and orderly way, recognize overlaps with other materials, and then take a stand of their own.   Finally the practice of professional writing is a process, and this assignment adds to this process of practice and incremental improvement.

Basics for the Paper:

• 3-4 pages double spaced, 12 pt. font, standard margins• Professional objective writing style (“Based on evidence A, this means that…”) as opposed to subjective writing style (i.e., “I believe that…” “In my experience…”) • Title page  (title, name, school, date)• Properly cited paper and reference page in APA or MLA format (+3 academic sources)

Steps for Completion:

1. Acquire a pop-culture/self-help book that you haven’t read already.   Examples of books in recent history that fit this mold would be “Women are from Mars, men are from Venus,”  “He’s not that into you,”  “Coping with Difficult People.” Acquire professor’s approval for your selected text (DUE NEXT WEEK)2. Read the entire book, taking notes on aspects (i.e., ideas, arguments, examples) that jump out at you as significant or relevant to class, relational communication field or research, personal reasons, etc.3. Draft #1:   Organize your paper into three sections:  Overview of the book, three main points, and Conclusion/Summary.   NOTE:  Content in each section below represents ideas for what to write about, not necessarily a strict list of requirements.a. Overview:  This section should introduce the book and your critique, as well as give us a peek at the general relational ground the book covers, how it informs the reader (i.e., advice, description), and perhaps information about the writer.  It should ultimately convey the structure for the following section.b. Three Main Points:  Based on what you read, what jumps out at you as the most important aspects of the reading as they relate your experience of these ideas, the readings we do in this class, overlapping theory, or big picture society stuff?   Remember this is a communication class, so keep in mind the overall thrust should be about what your book and its points say about communication lessons/behavior/messages.c. Conclusion/Summary:  Pull it together…what do these three points (above) say in general about how the text informs not only a general “mainstream America” audience, but also relational/interpersonal/general communication scholars?  Is it garbage?  Informed garbage?  The new modern relationship handbook?  The next great American novel?  4. Draft #2:  After you have sufficiently walked away and thought about your ideas as they stand, rewrite, reject and reintroduce, or revise your previous draft.  Consider how ideas flow together, how you summarize the collection of points you make, and how you are using other academic sources or quotes within the primary book to support your points.  If a paragraph seems flimsy or on the other hand too cumbersome, consider what you want to say and if you are saying it with enough substance or too much.  Think about how paragraphs lead into each other.5. Final Draft #3:  After you have walked away again, read the paper for grammar, punctuation, quotation, or other writing issues.   Double check your use of objective vs. subjective writing (if you are confused or having trouble with this, read any of our assigned articles for ideas; they all use objective writing).  Double check your cited sources and your reference page, and ensure you’ve used proper format.  Correct tense confusion, passive vs. active voice mistakes, etc.6. Staple the paper in the upper-left hand corner of the paper.  Exhale.  Turn it in!

Final Checklist (before Turn-in):

o Page limit met (do not count title page and reference list toward page count)o Correct text size, color, spacing and formatting used o Writing structure reflects the three sections (Overview, Main Points, Conclusion)o Three academic sources have been used “in-text” to support claims in a substantive way, and also are not on our class reading list (you have found them independently)o Paragraphs are mostly between 3 and 6 sentences long.  o Evidence, in the form of citations and quotations, is accurately and completely cited according to APA or MLA style.o Reference page reflects APA or MLA style, and features everything you cite in the paper.o Staple in the upper right hand corner;  Pages are in the correct order.o Double check the entire document before you hand it in.  Everything should reflect your final and complete effort on the paper.

Dr. Beck’s Suggestions & Helpful Tips:

• Take clear (not excessive) notes as you read, with the goal of helping yourself to organize the paper later on.  When you are immersed in a text/source sometimes a connection to a theory, example, or another source is most clear at that particularmoment.  Don’t lose the moment!• Each of us knows how long it takes to write papers, but I’m asking you to write something “three drafts” worthy.  If you turn in a “one draft” worthy paper it will most likely show.  Put in the time and you will have a higher quality product (which is the bar for graduate level work).

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