Five to seven pages in length. Not including reference/bibliography page(s). Do not use a cover page. The History Department uses

Five to seven pages in length. Not including reference/bibliography page(s).

Do not use a cover page.

The History Department uses Chicago/Turabian formatting. But I would accept
APA formatting.

Writing Expectations

I once thought college-level students came to class with firmly established writing skills.

Experience demonstrates this is not necessarily the case. This document offers information on

what is expected for college-level papers in my courses and hopes to provide some writing tips to

those who can use them. Becoming a better writer is a lifetime endeavor. Hopefully, these tips

will assist you in that goal.

1. Structural Issues – Papers should have a descriptive title. Be sure to include your name on

the document. See Chicago or APA for additional information regarding the set-up of the paper,

such as an introduction, references, etc. Thought papers in this class do not need all the sections

of a formal research paper. Still, I expect an introduction with appropriate headings, references,

and Chicago or APA citation style. One exception to APA for all papers in this class is the

abstract. I do not require an abstract for your papers or a cover page. All papers should be

printed using 12 pt font, double-spaced lines, and text should use a ‘standard’ font style (e.g.,

Times New Roman, Arial, Calibri).

2. Introduction – you MUST include a formal introduction in any paper you write. At a

minimum, the introduction must clearly state the document’s purpose. It should also address why

the topic is important to consider. It should also conclude with a ‘road map’ in which you

clearly and concisely tell the reader how the remainder of the document is structured.

3. Following the prompt – The assignment started with topics. These topics require assessing

information, creating a research question, and formulating an answer (thesis). The paper must

address all of that information! Subheadings can keep you focused (and help your reader

understand what you are presenting). [Use Chicago or APA!] This will give great organization

and cohesion to your paper and your thoughts and help you and the reader stay on track

throughout your exposition. Without a plan to address each part of the prompt (Your topic and

research question), it is easy to get sidetracked in writing or get passionate about something and

forget to address a key part. While passion and exuberance are great qualities in academia and

writing, they can’t overtake the process and cause you to forget to address the prompts fully. The

prompt is there to gauge your ability to not only read the text and other materials but to

determine your level of comprehension and to see how well you understand the concepts

presented and, subsequently, how well you can apply them to real-world examples and

synthesize material.

4. In-text citations – Use in-text citations properly (i.e., Chicago or APA). I have offered you

several sources of information for APA, so the failure to use it cannot stem from a lack of

knowledge or materials. Most of the time, for in-text citations, there are two styles used (as I said

– most of the time – verify you are using the proper style). When paraphrasing or presenting

general ideas or concepts in a piece, the citations should appear as (Author, Date), or (Surette,

2011). For direct quotations, the citation should appear as (Author, Date, Page #) or (Surette,

2011, p. 49). Please note that long direct quotes are treated differently

5. Language – A frequent issue in papers is the improper use of words and language. First,

remember that these are all college-level, formal academic papers. Therefore, saying things like,

“I totally agree with that” or “That really makes no sense at all” are inappropriate for this type of

paper. The use of the first person (I blah blah blah…), in general, should be avoided. In addition,

avoid the colloquial. Rather, state what you mean in clear, concise terminology. Wordiness is

not generally a good idea as your thoughts can get lost and the reader can become confused. For

example, this sentence- “When I was taking a look at this film that I had never seen before this

class, I think that there is really no way at all for the actor to be a good portrayal of a

stereotypical lawyer and basically wasn’t believable at all, because she didn’t focus on much of

anything in the book.” This could be condensed and rewritten to state, “In light of Surette’s

presentation of a stereotypical lawyer, the actor failed to believably portray her role in the film.”

Then you could go on to state, “This is the case because of X, Y and Z (Surette, 2011).” Rather,

state what you mean using more formal, clear, and concise terminology.

6. I will… – The use of ‘I will’ and “In this paper…” are personal pet peeves of mine. Often,

students state that they will do something when they have already done it. Remove the I will! For

example, consider this paragraph from a student:

The public’s view of Crime Fighters unfortunately becomes misconstrued through things

heard or seen via the media, TV series, entertainment TV and video games. In this paper I

will give a summary of the movie Dirty Harry and utilize information from Chapter 4 of

Surette (2012) to answer several questions. First I will discuss what type of individuals is

drawn into law enforcement. From this I will next offer information on what types of

individuals are drawn into law enforcement from the movies portrayal. And finally I will

address what criminal justice policies would be advanced based off of the film.

Please note that the student provided the information they noted they “will” provide in that

paper. Note how much cleaner and clearer the document becomes with the “will” (and first-

person language) removed:

Unfortunately, the public’s view of Crime Fighters becomes misconstrued through things

heard or seen via the media, TV series, entertainment TV, and video games. This paper

uses a summary of the movie Dirty Harry and information from Surette (2012) to answer

several questions. First, the type of individuals drawn into law enforcement is

presented. Next, information on what types of individuals are drawn into law

enforcement from the movie’s portrayal is outlined. Finally, the criminal justice policies

that would be advanced based on the film are discussed.

I find it difficult to write without using “will”. My solution is to go back when the paper is

completed and search and remove “will” when appropriate.

7. Proofread! Turning in a paper that you have failed to proofread results in a sloppy product.

There is never a reason NOT to proofread your paper. Please proofread your work.

Select from one of the following topics:

a. Environmental History Topics
i. EPA – the hazardous waste

ii. Exxon Valdez and Santa Barbara oil spills
iii. The Love Canal Case and the Eastman Kodak Case
iv. The 1978 Three Mile Island
v. A comparative analysis of the most prominent earthquakes throughout history

vi. A comparative analysis of the most prominent floods throughout history
vii. A comparative study of the most prominent landslides throughout history

viii. Norman Borlaug and the Rockefeller Foundation in the Green Revolution
ix. The SARE/LISA and the USDA programs on sustainable agriculture
x. The emergence of agricultural biotechnology

b. Environmental Debates Topics
i. Can life on Earth co-exist with radiation? Artificial vs. natural radioactivity

ii. How essential is oil for the ecosystem? Oil pollution and the oil industry
iii. Is there anything we can do to reverse the ozone layer depletion?
iv. Will using red lights make a significant difference in our environment?
v. When we say green energy, what do we mean? Is it green?

vi. Can we redeem our planet with the use of green energy?
vii. How far should humans go into meddling with extinction? Is it a natural cause?

c. Environmental Justice Topics
i. Does the government have the most significant impact on the country’s recycling

effort?
ii. Do we use the total capacity of science to impact climate change?

iii. Nuclear power – the importance for the environment and its role in foreign

policies
iv. Freight transport is a major cause of greenhouse gas emissions – how can we

reduce it?
v. The hospitality industry and environmental management

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