Guidelines for research paper
Spring 2021

This is a series of assignments in which you will prepare a proposal, an annotated bibliography as well as a final research paper.  The final paper is due on Friday May 14 by 7pm. This assignment (proposal, annotated bibliography, and final paper) accounts for 35% of your final grade.

Part I

  1. Choose a topic. The topic can be anything related to the themes of the course, and can be general or specific. The best topics link things you are interested in to the theme of the course. I’d encourage you to come in and talk to me about what you’re thinking of doing. Because this is a seminar in comparative and international studies, if you choose a topic related to the US it must be comparative, bringing in at least one other non-US case.
  2. Narrow down the topic to something do-able in a research paper. Once you’ve chosen a topic, frame it in terms of a question. The best questions are ones that do not have an obvious answer, that are a kind of puzzle. The research paper will be an answer to that question. Setting up a puzzle also helps you to focus your paper.
  3. How will you go about answering the question? There are two parts to this question:
  4. What are some possible explanations or answers to your question? And how will you decide which explanation(s) are the most satisfactory? You may have a hunch about what the answer is, but the only way you can know that your answer is the best one is by looking at alternative answers and showing that they aren’t satisfactory. You should think about at least three possible explanations.
  5. What are the sources you will be using? Given the question you are answering, what kinds of evidence, data, sources will you look to in order to try to answer the question and to explore alternative explanations?

Assignment 1.

  • What is your general topic? What is the specific question you would like to answer? Write a paragraph or so explaining why this question is of interest and how it is related to the theme(s) of the course.
  • What are three (or more) possible explanations for the puzzle you have chosen, or answers to your question? Please write about a paragraph for each explanation. Also, what kinds of evidence or data would be needed to answer the questions and consider the alternative explanations?

Due Friday April 16.

Part II

You should draw on a minimum of 15 sources. Of those, 10 should be from published scholarly books or academic journals (not daily or weekly newspapers or magazines). The others may be internet sources but you must be very explicit about the credibility and reliability of the source. (Online versions of academic journals do not count as internet sources.) If you have any doubts or questions about sources including which ones are scholarly please let me know.

Assignment 2Annotated Bibliography.

Prepare an annotated bibliography of your sources. For each source, provide a citation (Author, Title, place/date of publication, Journal name and issue number), and a one-paragraph summary of the main points of the source and how it relates to your question, in your own words. (For more info on annotated bibliography see the link under “written assignments” on the online syllabus)

Due Friday May 7 by 4pm

Part III

The final paper is due by 7pm on Friday May 14 (during finals week). It should be 20-25 pages minimum (double spaced, 12 or 10 pt font, 1-inch margins). Double-sided printing is preferred.

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