For this assignment, you will compose a ten-page research paper on a great thinker chosen from the attached list. There are three components to this assignment. The first is that you will write about the major thought, idea, or system of belief for which the great thinker was known. Secondly, you will write about two or three ways in which the teachings of the great thinker influenced history. Thirdly, you will provide a thoughtful analysis of at least one idea touted by the great thinker. You will need to research and properly document eight to ten scholarly sources using the MLA standard for citation. In addition to writing the paper, you will be learning and implementing a way to organize your research and writing. You will receive two grades for this assignment: one for the final paper and one for the research and writing prep work.
Research is an important skill for college students to learn and implement. When done well, research will help strengthen an argument, prove a point, verify facts, and explain with first-hand knowledge. At its most basic level, research is studying the works of experts in any given field. For instance, if I want to research heart surgery, I will locate experts in the field of cardiology and read what they say about the heart. In reading their works, which may consist of published studies, medical journal articles or medical books, or informative medical websites or blogs, I am presuming and appealing to their expert knowledge and skill in an area I know little or nothing about. In short, I’m reading and studying their work in order to learn. For your research paper, you will be appealing to the expert knowledge of a great thinker. You will research articles and/or books that were either written by the great thinker (we call this a primary source) or by someone who studied the great thinker (we call this a secondary source).
For example, let’s say you are studying Jonathan Edwards (great puritan theologian). Were you to read and study his actual sermons, you would be researching a primary source. Were you to read and study what John Piper (present day pastor and avid Jonathan Edwards fan) has written about the
theology of Jonathan Edwards, then you would be conducting secondary research.
Both primary and secondary sources are very valuable when writing research papers. Usually primary research is considered to be the most reliable in that it is closest to the original (the idea originator, the eye-witness account, the photograph, etc…). A good research paper will be able to navigate both types of research and carefully integrate it appropriately. For the purposes of this assignment, you’ll be doing both because you’ll be concerned with what the great thinker actually taught and that will best be discovered by his or her actual writings, and you’ll be concerned with how his or her thoughts influenced history, which is most likely written by other scholars.
In addition to conducting primary and secondary research, you’ll need to make sure that your sources are consider scholarly; that is, your sources come from people who have appropriate expertise in the field of you are studying. This will not be an issue with your primary sources because you will go straight to the source (i.e., you’ll study the writings or Marx or Lewis), but it will be more of an issue in secondary sources. How to tell if an article or book is considered scholarly or written by an authoritative expert in the field can be tricky, but here are a few rules: 1. Does the author have an educational background that would account for the knowledge in the article or book? 2. In the case of articles, is it published in a peer-reviewed journal? 3. Does the article or book offer analysis and critique of original sources or just give mere impressions or opinions? Another term I have mentioned in regards to research is MLA citation (Modern Language Association).
MLA is a method of citation that is used primarily in the humanities that indicates the source of your research. Learning MLA citation rules takes time and lots of effort, but it is a necessary part of conducting and writing a well-researched paper. For this assignment, you’ll need at least eight scholarly sources that may include journal articles or books but may NOT include websites. There will be in-class lectures that will teach you where to locate scholarly resources and how to properly keep track and cite them. As I see it, there are two major avenues of research for this paper: the first is research involving the actual ideas of the great thinker. The second is research involving the analysis of the thinker’s ideas.
Content of Research Paper
As mentioned in the assignment overview, there are two components to this research paper. The first is that you will research the major idea or set of ideas for which the great thinker was known. This will be the first section of the research paper and will include a thorough explanation of the great thinker’s idea or ideas and he or she came to belief or think in such a way. The second section of the paper will include a discussion on two or three of the major ways the great thinker’s ideas influenced history. The third section is where you provide thoughtful analysis about at least one of the great thinker’s ideas. This is not, necessarily, an argument, but rather it is an opportunity for you to break down the idea and comment on it yourself. Although I’m more interested in your analysis, it may help to research how others have analyzed and critiqued your great thinker’s ideas. In this section you may
1. Critique the thinker’s idea
2. Break down the thinker’s ideas and provide additional clarification or implication 3. Show how different scholars have viewed or interpreted the great thinker’s ideas and whether agree or disagree 4. Show why the thinker’s ideas produced negative or positive effects on society, theology, history, etc. 5. Any combination of the above.
Please note that I do not wanting you to write a biography; that is, I do not want detailed discussion on the great thinker’s family history, marriage, hobbies, physical appearance, personal health, friends, etc. unless is it absolutely pertinent to his or her intellectual contribution.
Each of you will be required to create an outline for your paper and turn it in as part of the assignment. Additionally, you will be required to keep track of all research and turn in your research notes.
I will require you to keep track of your sources through Microsoft One Note or Word, whichever works best for you. For every source you look at, you’ll need to record the following information: 1. Source Title- title of the article or book
2. Source Location-book, ebook with web address, journal article with web address 3. Source Citation- MLA citation as it would appear in your works cited page 4. What-what information are you using from the source. If it is short, type it here. If it is a chapter or large section, write down the major idea or some key words and the necessary information to find it in your source easily (page or section numbers, headings, etc.). 5. Plan- how you plan on using the information
You will have at least eight records with the above information, although it is much more likely you’ll have more and may not use all sources in the actual writing of the paper. That is okay. Note: Make sure you accurately record information for every source because you won’t remember.
Each paper will be graded on the following:
1. Accurate, detailed, and thoughtful discussion and analysis of the great thinker’s ideas
2. Coherent, fluid prose
3. Accurate implementation of MLA citation
4. Integration of scholarly sources
5. Proper adherence to Standard English grammar and style
6. Proper adherence to page length and formatting guidelines
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