A paper in a computer science course should be about computer science. A paper in a race course should be about race. A paper in a theory course should be about theory. Etc.
Uses the same (black) font throughout.
Includes the following subheadings (in all caps): INTRODUCTION, LITERATURE REVIEW, EXPOSITION, and SYNTHESIS AND FUTURITY.
Avoids first-person point-of-view.
Includes ASA-formatted internal citations throughout.
Note: Place internal citations before the period (Goss 2019).
Note: Do not include commas.
(Goss, Ellis, and Hemenway 2000)
Has been spell/grammar-checked by Microsoft Word.
Has been read out loud to another person.
Note: Research suggests it’s easier to correct clarity and flow issues when reading aloud.
Can be visualized using the following graphic:
Is saved as a Microsoft Word document (i.e., with a .doc or .docx file extension).
Are each 4-7 sentences long.
Are each focused on one general idea.
Have more sentences that include an internal citation than sentences without an internal citation.
Note: This is not a requirement but will help ensure your essay is properly cited.
Do NOT include any quotations.
Note: Students often confuse “quotations” and “citations.” A quotation refers to repeating what someone else has said word-for-word. A quotation is enclosed by quotations marks. A quotation is a type of citation. However, a quotation is the worst type of citation. It typically demonstrates lazy writing. Professors prefer to see students engage with source material through paraphrasing or summarizing (instead of quoting).
Note: however you integrate sources — e.g., quoting, paraphrasing, or summarizing — you MUST cite the source.
Is NOT a complete sentence.
Note: Complete sentences that are questions are generally allowable.
Does not end with a period.
Capitalizes all nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs.
Includes a thesis statement as the last 1-2 sentences.
Note: Systematically build your argument to avoid flow and clarity issues. E.g., state your argument as succinctly as possible (e.g., “Game of Thrones is a horrible television show”). Produce supportive statements (e.g., “The acting is subpar…The plotlines are unrealistically melodramatic…The use of racialized bodies is problematic”). And provide evidence for your supportive statements (e.g., “Williams (2006) found that viewers ranked the acting on Game of Thrones lowest among the 20 most watched television shows between 2010 and 2018”). An outline will be helpful in this process.
Is NOT opinionated.
Note: Posit a supportable claim rather than a high-spirited opinion (including superlatives and hyperbole), especially in the introduction (where you are supposed to present as somewhat ignorant of your topic). E.g., “Game of Thrones is a terrible television show because the acting is sub-par, the plotlines are melodramatic, and the racial discourse is problematic” instead of “Who watches this garbage? I mean, really. It’s so bad. Game of Thrones should be banned from all televisions.” Write like a scientist who has come to a reasoned and logical conclusion rather than a zealot spouting opinions. Doing so signifies a lack of faith in the science supporting your argument. In other words, there’s no need to assert opinion when your argument is supported by science.
This means your thesis does not reiterate class material, but rather extends it into new intellectual territory. For example, “Black Americans are disproportionately criminalized” is reiterative and not nuanced. However, “Black Americans are disproportionately criminalized due to the intersection of settler colonialism and the hegemonic domain of power” extends course material into new intellectual territory and is therefore nuanced and not reiterative.
The simplest way to nuance your argument is to integrate key terms that are seemingly unrelated to your essay topic. In this case, your argument would involve connecting your topic and key terms. For example, explaining the relationship between an apple and a pear is much less nuanced than explaining the relationship between an apple and an iPhone.
Includes my two key terms explicitly.
Note: This is not a requirement but can make your thesis statement more effective.
My literature review:
Elaborates on the findings/results/positions of two peer-reviewed scholarly articles that were NOT required course readings.
Note: Dissertations, magazine articles, newspaper articles, Wikipedia entries, blog posts, conference papers, institutional reports, books, and book reviews are not scholarly peer-reviewed journal articles (i.e., scholarly = produced in the academy; peer-reviewed = evaluated by other experts on the topic; journal = a collection of academic articles dispensed periodically; article = a write-up of a research study that usually follows a standard format of introduction, literature review, methods, findings/results, discussion, and conclusions).
Does NOT restate the author’s name or university affiliation nor the article title.
For example, avoid the following format: “In “Why Game of Thrones is Horrible,” Professor Desmond Goss from Georgia State University suggests that the show is unwatchable.” Instead, simply state the point and cite the author: “Game of Thrones is unwatchable (Goss 2018).”
Begins with an elaboration of my argumentative thesis.
Elaborates my two key terms in the context of course material.
Explicitly demonstrates the relationship between my argumentative thesis and my two key terms.
Does NOT simply repeat my introduction.
Demonstrates a synthesize of the material presented in my essay.
Consider this analogy: your introduction is an inquiry, the body of your essay is your exploration/research, and the conclusion is the answer.
Succinctly and logically discusses the possible future of my essay’s topic.
Are all in ASA format.
NOT APA, MLA, Chicago Style, etc.
Alba, Richard, John R. Logan, and Brian J. Stults. 2000. “The Changing Neighborhood Contexts of the Immigrant Metropolis.” Social Forces 79(2):587-621.
Goss, Desmond. 2020. “The Knees: Race, Gender, and Embodiment in the Lyrics of Megan Thee Stallion.” Journal of Pop Culture 21(3):12-29.
Do not include DOI numbers.
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