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You will use some of the following critical thinking skills in this process:

  1. Choosing an appropriate topic, limiting the topic.
  2. Gathering information, summarizing sources.
  3. Analyzing and evaluating sources.
  4. Defining key terms.
  5. Synthesizing information, comparing and contrasting sources.
  6. Testing a thesis, making a historical argument, using refutation.
  7. Amassing support for a position.
  8. Documenting sources.

Because this may be a longer paper than you have written before and a complex process is involved, it is recommended that you complete this paper using the following steps:

  1. Choose a topic related to chapters covered in The American Yawp, (Chapters 16-30) that you would truly like to explore and that you are willing to spend some time on. Your chosen topic should be focused. Pose a question that you really want to answer. You may want to begin with more than one topic in mind.
  2. Do some preliminary reading on the topic(s). You may begin with the textbook, then further explore the information available. Refine your topic. Summarize your topic, your interest in the topic, the questions you want to answer, and a hypothesis you want to test.
  3. Gather information from a variety of sources. Use a minimum of four sources for your paper, and at least one must be a primary source.
    • Primary sources are contemporary to the times under investigation.
    • An example of a secondary source is our textbook, though the textbook also contains excerpts of primary sources, which you may use as a source in your paper.
  4. Outline the results of your research and the plan for your paper (you are not required to submit the outline).
  5. Write the final draft and be sure to include a Works Cited List, and use the correct MLA documentation style.

For some reason the absolute necessity of in text citing sources used in a research paper (on both directly quoted AND paraphrased material) either isn’t getting taught anymore or (and this one is my personal theory) it just isn’t sinking in anymore.  You MUST both in text cite your sources AND provide an MLA style bibliography at the end. Failing to do either/both is a form of plagiarism, whether you mean it that way or not, and it will be treated as such so please just make sure to take care of business and in text cite those sources as you go while writing the paper, and include that MLA style references/bibliography at the end of the paper. 

Grade Rubric

INTRODUCTION & THESIS: Includes a clear thesis statement, an assertion or position. The topic is original and manageable in a short research paper. /15

FOCUS AND DEVELOPMENT: Body of the essay focuses on this thesis and develops it fully, recognizing the complexity of issues and refuting arguments in opposition to the thesis. /20

SUPPORT AND SYNTHESIS: Uses sufficient and relevant evidence to support the thesis (and primary points), including facts, inferences, and judgments. Quotes, summarizes, and paraphrases accurately and effectively–appropriately introducing and explaining each quote. /25

RESOURCES: Shows a clear understanding of the sources; has evaluated each source and used it appropriately. Uses a wide variety of sources reflecting significant research. /10

CONVENTIONS: Uses MLA format correctly; includes internal citations and a Works Cited list; is free of errors. /15

CORRECTNESS AND STYLE: Introduces the topic in an interesting way; shows critical thinking and depth of understanding; uses appropriate tone; shows sophistication in language usage and sentence structure. /15

TOTAL: /100

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