Research Paper Guidelines
These guidelines are intended to provide you direction in writing your research papers. They are not exhaustive, but merely provide guidance in your writing. There will be some specifics on here, but by and large, I cannot tell you how to write your paper; that is your job. You are expected to write a research paper that does not merely summarize a topic but instead critically analyzes a topic and offers a discussion based upon previous research findings as well as your own opinion injected into the paper. You will be expected to offer critical analysis and thinking to your topic, not just talk and talk for pages and pages.
• Topics for the research paper must be approved by Week 3 (Sunday). Students who have not had a topic approved will lose one letter grade on their research paper (This means topic approved, not topic submitted).
o To gain approval for a topic, please complete the Topic Approval assignment under the Assignments tab in the course.
• Rough drafts for the research paper are due on Week 6 (Sunday).
• Final versions for the research paper are due on Week 8 (Sunday) at 11:59 pm . NO LATE PAPERS WILL BE ACCEPTED!!!
Topic and Cases:
It is your job to choose a topic that is neither too broad (e.g., Drugs and Sports) nor too narrow (e.g., a topic with no research on it). You need to have researched your topic before you decide upon it. It will be difficult for you to write a paper on a topic for which you cannot find any previous research. These are not opinion papers and should not be written as such. These are research papers, and they should reflect it. You should start by looking up peer-reviewed articles on your topic of choice. Google should not be your first avenue of research. Articles from ESPN or Sports Illustrated should only be used sparingly – they are not peer-reviewed sources.
• You may use the Troy Libraries homepage to search in a variety of databases for articles on a particular topic, such as gender issues in sport. Then, while reading those articles for your topic, you can see other articles cited that you can then go and find. You will need to use journal articles for the bulk of your paper.
• You are expected to produce your papers with Microsoft Word, using 12-point Times New Roman font and double-spacing, except on your References page.
• You are expected to use APA 6th edition formatting throughout your paper. If you are not familiar with this formatting, you need to either purchase an APA manual (Amazon is a good, cheap place), check out a manual from a library, or use a variety of online resources dedicated to APA formatting:
o http://www.apastyle.org/ (look at the Tutorials here)
• The formatting must be throughout the paper, including References. You will lose points for failing to use proper APA formatting.
• Your paper needs to be a minimum of 8 pages and a maximum of 10 pages. The Title Page and References do not count in this number. Make sure you are not filling your paper with “fluff” just to get the pages required.
The basic outline of your paper should be as follows:
1. Title Page
a. Tell me your title, class, and date.
a. Introduce the subject of your paper. It may help to mention recent developments in the issue/subject.
b. The Introduction should feed into your next section.
3. Statement of Problem/Issue
a. Tell me why this is an important issue.
b. Have other studied this before? If so, why is it important to do further research? If not, how is the issue important?!
4. Literature Review
a. This will be the bulk of your paper.
b. You are reviewing and summarizing the literature/cases on your given topic.
c. Talk about other research in this area. What have other scholars found?
a. This is where your opinion starts to come into play. Don’t just tell me that Title IX needs to be done away with, tell me why that is a reasoned stance and support it with research.
a. The ending to your paper. Don’t overlook this. It needs to tie everything together.
a. Need to be in APA format
b. You must include at least 10 peer-reviewed sources (i.e., journal articles) and at least 3 other sources (cases, other articles, books, etc.). DO NOT plan on writing most of your paper off of website information or Sports Illustrated articles.
c. WIKIPEDIA IS NOT A SOURCE!!!
d. Your book cannot count toward your source total, but you can use it as a source. There are articles cited in the book chapters – pull them and use them.
e. Make sure to follow proper formatting!
Baker, T. A., Connaughton, D. P., Zhang, J. J., & Spengler, J. O. (2007). Perceived risk of terrorism and related risk management practices of NCAA Division IA football stadium managers. Journal of Legal Aspects of Sport, 13(2), 145-179.
This is really where you get the least amount of information. Grading is a tricky thing. I can tell you that you will lose points for failing to follow proper formatting guidelines. You will also lose points for spelling and/or grammatical errors. You have spell-check, so there are no excuses for these things.
These papers will be graded very tough, as they represent 25% of your grade in this course. I am expecting to receive polished work from you, not rough drafts, so you need to have gone through significant revisions before turning them in to me. Use your peers – exchange papers and revise each other’s work. I cannot tell you how long you should spend on this assignment, but taking into account the time it will take to research the topic, read the requisite articles and cases, write the paper, and revise it to a sufficient point, I would say that you should plan to spend a minimum of 20 hours on this assignment. I cannot stress this enough; if you turn in something that was written the night before, you will most likely receive an F on it.
The following is provided to give you an idea of grading research papers:
“A” Paper: Perhaps the principle characteristic of the “A” paper is its rich content. Some people describe that content as “meaty,” others as “dense,” still others as “packed.” Whatever, the information delivered is such that one feels significantly taught by the author, sentence after sentence, paragraph after paragraph. The “A” paper is also marked by stylistic finesse: the title and introduction are engaging; the transitions are artful; the phrasing is tight, fresh and highly specific; the sentence structure is varied; the tone enhances the purposes of the paper. The objectives are specifically established and reinforced throughout the paper. The research base is current, extensive and appropriate while relationships to practical considerations are well constructed. There is a very logical sequence throughout the paper with proper references that support the author’s contentions. The paper and reference list is complete and perfectly constructed in APA or legal style. Finally, the “A” paper, because of its careful organization and development, imparts a feeling of wholeness and unusual clarity. Not surprisingly, then, it leaves the reader feeling bright, thoroughly satisfied, and eager to reread the piece.
“B” Paper: It is significantly more than competent. Besides being free from mechanical and grammatical errors, the “B” paper delivers substantial information-that is, substantial in both quantity and interest-value. Its specific points are logically ordered, well developed, and unified around a clear organizing principle that is apparent early in the paper. The introduction draws the reader in; the summary is both conclusive and thematically related to the opening. The transitions between paragraphs are, for the most part, smooth, the sentence structures pleasantly varied. The dictation of the “B” paper is typically much more concise and precise than that found in the “C” paper. Occasionally, it even shows distinctiveness-i.e. finesse and memorability. Some key research may have been missing in the construction of this paper but only an expert within the field would recognize its omission. There may be a few minor errors in the reference list, and none that would hinder the reader’s ability to locate the citation. Very few APA errors are present throughout the paper. On the whole, then, a “B” paper makes the reading experience a pleasurable one, for it offers substantial information with few distractions.
“C” Paper: It is generally competent-it meets the assignment, has few mechanical errors, and is reasonably well organized and developed. The actual information it delivers, however, seems thin and commonplace. One reason for that impression is that the ideas are typically cast in the form of vague generalities-generalities that prompt the confused reader to ask marginally: “In every case?” “Exactly how?” “Why?” “But how many?” Stylistically, the “C” paper has other shortcomings as well: the introduction does little to draw the reader in; the summary offers only a perfunctory wrap-up; the transitions between paragraphs are often bumpy; the sentences, besides being a bit choppy, tend to follow a predictable (hence monotonous) subject-verb-object-order; and the dictation is occasionally marred by unconscious repetitions, redundancy, and imprecision. Often, this paper looks like a string of research studies and/or cases with little to no rhyme or reason except to meet a page requirement. The paper has several APA throughout the paper. The “C” paper, then, while it gets the job done, lacks both imagination and intellectual rigor. It does not, therefore, invite a re-reading.
“D” Paper: Its treatment and development of the subject are only rudimentary. While organization is present, it is neither clear nor effective. Sentences are frequently awkward, ambiguous, and marred by mechanical errors. Evidence of careful proofreading is scanty or nonexistent. The whole piece, in fact, often gives the impression of having been conceived and written in haste. The research base is very shallow as if the amount of time researching the topic was done the same week the paper was written. Numerous APA style errors are present throughout the paper. Whole lines of research that should have been included are noticeably absent. A reader is therefore left confused with perhaps an ignorant level of knowledge related to the author’s intent.
“F” Paper: Its treatment of the subject is superficial; its theme lacks discernable organization; its prose is garbled or stylistically primitive. Mechanical errors are frequent. The information conveyed and the research and /or cases cited serve little to no useful purpose. Major and/or many APA style errors are present throughout the paper. A reader is not informed by the piece and must struggle and have discipline to finish reading it. In short, the ideas, organization, and style fall far below what is acceptable graduate student writing.
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