Midterm Essay Guidelines

1. Selection of Sources

Selecting the appropriate sources for your research topic will be critical to your paper’s success.  You may have to go through a lot of material before you find the relevant sources for your topic.  Many times we have had the experience of thinking that an article or book is going to be about something based on it’s title and we were wrong. Be patient. Invest the time in the library and email us with questions.  Read bibliographies and footnotes from relevant work and follow those leads. Engage in critical reading. Ask: Who is the author? What is their intention with this book, article or document? Who is the author talking to? What argument are they making? How do they make this argument? Why is this important to examining my topic? How does this work relate to other sources I am engaged with? There are two different kinds of sources that you might engage with:

  • Secondary sources are scholarly analysis of your topic. Pick secondary sources that are of high quality. A “scholarly source” would be a journal article or a book published by a scholar or researcher — but not, for example, an article in a popular magazine, a web site or blog, and not, it goes without saying, an article from Wikipedia, though that may be useful in locating scholarly references. This often means that scholarly sources are cited by others and been debated. Again, you might have to go through a lot of sources before you find the “right” ones for your paper.
  • Primary sources get you as close to your topic as you can possibly get (e.g. images, newspaper articles, diaries, oral histories, government documents, maps, census data, movies, television transcripts, letters, comics, etc.). Ideally we would like you to include primary sources in your paper.

2.  Citing and Citations

  • The work that you hand in must be your own. You are not allowed to collaborate or work with anyone in the class. You may show your work to someone outside of the class ONLY for the purposes of correcting grammar and spelling.
  • You can use MLA, APA, or Chicago Manual of Style Author-Date formatted citations, but please pick only one format, and be consistent.
  • You may either reference sources or lectures using either:
      • A) “parenthetical citations” in the body of the text and then including a proper “works cited” section at the end, OR
      • B) properly formatted footnotes for each citation with a bibliography at the end of the paper.
    • In either case, make sure to include specific page numbers when you are quoting an author or referring to a specific passage. (Finn and Perkel 2009:22-24)
    • If you aren’t sure on formatting rules, look them up online!
  • You may paraphrase ideas from readings, videos, or lectures, but you must properly cite these passages as well. In other words, use citations even if you don’t quote.
  • If you represent work as your own that is not, by failing to cite quotes and paraphrased ideas, it will be considered plagiarism in violation of the student code.
  • When in doubt… send us an email.  If you have any questions about what needs to be cited, please let us know.

3. Formatting and Writing

  • The paper should be no longer than 2000 words not including references, footnotes, endnotes or bibliography.
  • You need to submit the paper electronically and in paper:
    • Please submit one electronic copy submitted via e-mail yelekreb.loohcsinull@nayrb (and feel free to cc the professors) in the following format: FIRSTNAME-LASTNAME-103.doc.
  • Please hand in well written prose with proper grammar and spelling. Take advantage of those spell checkers and grammar checkers that you have at your disposal.
  • Please page number your essay in the header or footer.