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Term Paper

March 31, 2013

Here’s a quick reminder about the term paper. The following information is on the course syllabus, but I reproduce it here for your convenience:

The final paper is worth up to 500 of the 1,000 possible points in this course.

  • Students must turn in a paper proposal and outline via email by T31. Students who turn in their paper proposal and outline on time receive full credit (25) and prompt feedback. Students can turn in paper proposal and outline late, though the credit which they receive declines daily (20% if it is up to 1 day late, 15% if it is between 1 and 2 days late, etc.). I provide further information on the thesis statement as well several weeks before they are collected.

  • The paper itself is worth up to the remaining 475 points and is due on May 10, COB.

  • The paper should be 10-15 pages (3,000-4,000 words).

For now, let’s focus on the paper proposal and outline. To repeat, they’re due on T31 which is April 16. The paper proposal does not need to be a big deal, but I want it to be useful to you and to me.


Let’s say that the assignment should include all of the following:

  1. A proposed title for the paper (examples: “Two Visions of Free Will in the Matrix Trilogy” and “Are We Our Brains? Verhoeven’s Total Recall and the Critique of Reductive Physicalism”).
  2. A proposed topic for the paper (examples: “‘A’ Time and ‘B’ Time in Back to the Future” and  “Metropolis’ argument against the place of revolution in utopia).
  3. A short explanation of why this topic is a good one.
  4. A game plan for the paper.

I’m not providing examples of 3 and 4 here, but you should be pretty familiar with how they go. If you’re looking for help, well, I do this for a living, so you might want to ask me. But people often have questions at inconvenient moments – say, the night before the assignment is due. Should, heaven forbid, you find yourself in this position, you might want to cast your eyes in the direction of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s writing center. They’ve got some great material. As a former Tar Heel, I am required by law to promote the old place, but I’d do so even if I weren’t. There are also good pieces of information about outlining at the State University of New York at Albany and the University of North Dakota, among other places. Use ’em.

Photo of the robot looking in the mirror courtesy of Joel Hesch.


From → Term Papers

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