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I’m working on a environmental science question and need guidance to help me learn.4 attachmentsSlide 1 of 4

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ES498: Instructions for the Research Paper, Fall 2021 This document provides only a rough outline of how academic research is done. Be sure to read the applicable chapters in the books I recommend in the syllabus (“Communicating in Geography…” and “Study Skills…”). You should also consult the many research tutorials and handouts provided on Laurier’s Library page (more links are posted on the ES498 MLS course page under ‘Resources for your Research Paper’). I expect that you consult those resources as you write your paper. This document has three sections: Purpose, Task, and Criteria for Success 1) Purpose The purpose of this Research Paper is to: • • • apply the conceptual knowledge you have learned in this course to a case study of your choice o For example, how (and why!) is the concept of ‘nature/natural’ employed to differentiate resource use by First Nations from commercial fishing or logging operations? Or to justify the hunting of seal pups? o How is the concept of ‘environment’ used to defend positions on either side of the conflict over the Keystone pipeline project? Or in the push for electric cars? o How is the concept of ‘pollution’ used in the arguments made in support of nuclear energy? analyze your case study by placing it into the larger context of academic literature o what have scholars written about the concepts that are at the heart of your case study? o what can you learn from how they have applied them to other case studies? write a paper in several stages so you can incorporate feedback and thus actively improve your writing skills. In general terms, this Research Paper will challenge you to show your mastery of: • • • • course concepts and textbook content o can you correctly use concepts and terminology from the textbook? literature research o can you find/evaluate/integrate good academic sources? academic conventions o are you able to properly integrate, format, and cite quoted material? writing for a critical educated audience o can you write with proper logic, tone, clarity, style, grammar, spelling, and punctuation? What is this Research Paper good for? Researching and writing this research paper prepares you for a variety of writing tasks you will encounter in your professional life, for instance: • • • • • • • writing a proposal for a project preparing a research brief for your boss so she can negotiate with project stakeholders applying for funding for the project writing a progress report writing a position paper that responds to stakeholders’ concerns or lawsuits preparing an accountability report on how the funding was spent composing a media release about the project’s success 2) Task Your task in this Research Paper is to: • • • • select a concept from the textbook that interests you find a case study that illustrates the concept find literature that helps you analyze the concept as it plays out in your case study write up a paper in which you explain why and how this case study illustrates the concept Stage One: select a concept and a case study you wish to write about • • • as you read the textbook, you become interested in the concept of development colonialism: how and why did the Canadian state prevent Indigenous peoples from developing natural resources on their own land? you become aware of the recent conflict over Mi’kmaw fishing rights in Nova Scotia that pits Indigenous fishermen against commercial fishing operations you do some initial reading to find out whether this conflict illustrates the concept of development colonialism and you decide that it is a suitable case study Stage Two: understand the concept better by doing some preliminary ‘scoping’ research • • • in this stage you o become informed about the concept you chose and the topic in general, and o develop an idea of what to look for once you begin to search for more specific, academic sources in Stage Three start by mining the textbook sections that relate to the concept you chose, paying particular attention to the bibliography do some ‘scoping’ research by consulting non-academic sources and platforms such as Wikipedia, but only for the purpose of building your general understanding of the topic. Your actual paper should be built on ACADEMIC sources (see below – also refer to Peter Genzinger’s workshop and videos). • • here is a random selection of freely accessible non-academic platforms/magazines that you could turn to for reliable general information: The Conversation, The Economist, The Atlantic, The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, The National Post, the CBC, BBC, and NPR, The Guardian, Vox, TED talks. once you are more informed about your concept and the topic in general, you are ready to begin the next, more specific stage of your research Stage Three: search for academic sources on which to build your paper • • • through the library system, find academic sources (also called scholarly or peer-reviewed literature) that examine the concept you want to examine from an academic perspective for example, you may look for academic journal articles examining the concept of development colonialism in the American or Australian context learn from the way these articles explain and use the concept in their analyses o this is the point of the literature search: you want to learn from the methods and conclusions other authors have put forward o in other words: don’t re-invent the wheel, but build on the contribution of other authors – but be absolutely certain to properly cite their work! Stage Four: transfer and apply those insights from the literature to your case study • analyze your case study by transferring and applying what you have learned from the scholarly articles you found in the literature to the events/processes you are examining in your case study o for example: you find a journal article that relates the concept of development colonialism to the disenfranchisement of the Maori in New Zealand and you transfer the methods/insights from that article to your own examination of the Mi’kmaw case study. Stage Five: build an argument based on your readings and analysis – and write up your paper! • • • • • • if you read academic sources carefully, you will find that they all are written to make an argument (laid out in the Abstract and Introduction, and often repeated in the Conclusion) o the articles on the website The Conversation are great examples: the authors always clearly state their argument in the opening paragraph and again in the closing paragraph! o keep in mind, however, that the articles in The Conversation are not academic articles – but they are written by academics, and that’s why they show the same structure. in your paper, you should have an argument to make, and you should express it clearly this argument is the point of why you write your paper: you should have something to tell to your reader an example of a simple argument could be: “This paper argues that the Mi’kmaw fisheries conflict illustrates that development colonialism persists to this day in Canada.” see the section below for instructions how to construct an argument/thesis statement. lastly, write up your paper! How to avoid a frequent mistake As you compile your research, the temptation may be great ‘not to waste’ any material you have found and try to ‘shoe horn’ it into your paper. However, the content of your research paper should demonstrate that you are not just repeating information you have found, but that you can apply and analyze concepts. Therefore, you should be careful not to ‘overstuff’ your paper with all the factual information you have found and thus run out of space for the more important analysis of that information! To repeat: the point of this paper is not to chronicle a development or describe a situation, but to advance an argument about how and why the process you are writing about is happening, and how that illustrates the concept from the text. Consequently, you should write only as much background about the issue as is necessary for the reader to understand your argument about how the concept plays out in your real-life case study. In plain words: you should keep the ‘background’ to a minimum and focus as quickly as possible on the analysis – that’s where you earn the marks! That brings me to the next point: how do you get assessed? 3) Criteria for Success In terms of format, your paper should: • be 10 pages in length o 10 pages are equivalent to 2,500 words • be written in 12-pt font, double-spaced, with one-inch margins • have page numbers • have a separate title page with the title, your name, student number, and the due date • have a title that clearly expresses what your paper is investigating • the paper topic should be submitted to the MLS dropbox by midnight on Friday, Oct 29 • the paper outline should be submitted to the MLS dropbox by midnight on Friday, Nov 5 • the paper bibliography should be submitted to the MLS dropbox by midnight on Friday, Nov 12 • the draft paper should be submitted to the MLS dropbox by midnight on Friday, Nov 19 • the revised paper should be submitted to the MLS dropbox by midnight on Friday, Dec 3 In terms of structure, your Research Paper should contain: An Introduction in which you establish the context for the rest of the paper: • • • • you introduce the subject matter you state your argument (also called ‘thesis statement’) and explain why the issue you selected is relevant and important to investigate. In other words, you answer the ‘so what?’ or ‘why bother?’ question o see the section below on how to formulate an argument/thesis statement you briefly explain how you are going to investigate the issue the Introduction rarely needs to be longer than one page A Literature Review section in which you place the paper in the broader context of what has been written about the issue in the literature: • • • • you will draw mostly on articles in academic journals and chapters in academic books o you may use non-academic resources to learn more general contextual information, but you should be careful not to base your argument on those non-academic sources you provide enough information to the reader so s/he is able to understand your argument and evaluate its merit you show your RESEARCH ability (through the quality of the sources you use) and your ability to ANALYZE the sources (by explaining how they relate to your argument) the Literature Review should make up roughly one third of your paper. o do not pad the literature section just for the sake of filling space The all-important Analysis section in which you explain what you found and what you make of it: • • • you discuss how your findings from the secondary literature relate to your case study you explain how your findings support the argument you are making in the paper you show your UNDERSTANDING of the various perspectives you have found and your ability to EVALUATE them and SYNTHESIZE them into a cohesive argument A Conclusion in which you summarize how your study has illustrated your argument. A Bibliography in which you reference all materials you have used in writing the paper. Your paper must be based on properly cited academic sources. Please refer to the Laurier library homepage and the Writing Centre homepage for the many available resources regarding Information Literacy (e.g., how to find reliable academic information, how to cite sources properly, how to incorporate secondary information into your own writing, and how to avoid committing plagiarism). Much of this information is linked under ‘Resources for your Research Paper’, but you may want to seek out additional resources. Referencing guidelines: It is crucial that you state all sources of information you use in a properly formatted bibliography. There are several conventions regarding the formatting of bibliographies. I suggest that you adhere to the APA format commonly used in the social sciences. If you major in the humanities or natural sciences and would like to use the system commonly used in your discipline, talk to me. Your argument is the foundation of your paper Accordingly, your grade will be determined by: • • • • strength of argument o poor: you make a broad or moot argument (e.g., “Indigenous populations have always been disadvantaged by the state”) o good: you make a nuanced, insightful argument: (e.g., “Indigenous populations have long been systematically excluded from developing natural resources on their land. This paper uses the case study of the Mi’kmaw fisheries dispute to argue that this form of development colonialism continues to this day.”) depth of content o poor: you depend on only three or four sources and simply repeat their points o good: you do wide-ranging research and balance various sources to arrive at a wellinformed position clarity of structure o poor: your writing is uninspired and paragraphs seem to follow one another without any compelling logic or transitions o good: your writing is persuasive and shows a cohesive progression in which one paragraph builds on the previous one by using transitions that express logical connection (e.g., consequently, by contrast, on the other hand, therefore, moreover, however, notwithstanding, nevertheless, regardless, etc.) quality of your academic sources o poor: you rely on non-academic sources only and use Google and Wikipedia as your search platforms o good: you use the entire breadth of scholarly resources in digital and print formats that the library offers you Style, expression, grammar, punctuation, and spelling will be considered in the grading as they form an important part of any written communication. If your argument is strong but your writing is weak, your paper will be weak too because the reader will be left wondering whether what you wrote is what you really meant. Let me use this opportunity to pass on to you some of the best advice I have ever heard: “A B paper is an A paper that was handed in too early.” I strongly advise that you have someone proofread your paper and give you feedback on content, flow, logic, and presentation. You are always welcome to ask me for feedback at any stage of the paper. “How many sources do I need for this paper?” As a very crude rule of thumb that is valid for this paper only, you should build your paper on a minimum of one new scholarly source per page of text (i.e., 10 pages require a minimum of 10 different academic sources in total). Some advice worth repeating: • • • • • • • • • • start early ask me questions frequently use the services of the reference/research librarians on duty do not rely on web sources only, they cover only some of the information out there do not base your analysis on Wikipedia or Google searches use the Writing Centre in your writing, take it very easy on background, go heavy on analysis and discussion a good paper is one part creative thinking, one part writing and one part editing if you are not excited about your paper, how can anyone else be? you may say you’ve heard all of this before, so why I am repeating it here? Because some students ignore this advice and thus end up with a paper (and a course grade) that is lower than what they are capable of. I want you to achieve the best grade you are capable of. Developing an Argument/Thesis Statement Every academic paper is written to make a point. Your argument/thesis statement is your way of telling the reader 1) what that point is, and 2) how you are going to prove it. It must be specific and concise. At the same time, the thesis statement serves as your own guide during the writing process as a good thesis statement maps out the logical path for your writing. Example 1: “This paper analyses the populations of Timbuktu and Lake Woebegone.” Concise it may be, but this ‘thesis statement’ does not really contain any thesis. It merely declares your intention to discuss some general aspect and leaves your reader in the dark about what aspects of the population you are going to analyse and to what purpose you are doing this in the first place. Example 2: “This paper proposes that the population of Timbuktu suffers from more acute health problems than the population of Lake Woebegone.” Alright, you are beginning to be more specific about what you set out to do in the paper, but you still have not addressed the issue of how you are going to prove this, i.e., you have not named your supporting argument(s) yet. Example 3: “This paper argues that the population of Timbuktu suffers from more acute health problems than the population of Lake Woebegone. With the help of a comparative analysis of public health records, I will show that the difference is caused by the higher incidence of tropical diseases and the underfunded public health care system in Timbuktu.” Bingo! Now you have told the reader everything she needs to know: what your paper is about, what your argument is, and how you are going to support your argument. The following Grading Guide and Research Paper Rubric have been adapted from Cornell University’s Cole Library Center for Teaching and Learning. The rubric is originally from: Whalen, S. “Rubric from Contemporary Health Issues Research Paper” Please note the difference between an A paper and a B paper: to achieve a grade of A, a paper must do better than to fulfill the assignment well! A Paper: This paper does not just fulfill the assignment, it also has something original and important to say and the points it makes are supported well. It is organized effectively, develops smoothly, and it is written clearly and correctly. It is based on data or a review of the literature clearly related to the points it has to make. The sources cited are authoritative, current, and appropriate in scope and quantity. Findings from the literature are integrated into a readable essay. The conclusion suggests that the writer has synthesized the literature, reflected on it and arrived at a position, stand or perspective on the topic. It is correct in mechanics and APA citation style. B Paper: This paper fulfills the assignment well. Its general idea is clear and it is effectively presented. It handles its sources well, with no serious errors of fact or interpretation. It reports on adequate literature, but sources are not as authoritative or current as they should be. Generally, the paper is correct in usage, appropriate in style, and correct in mechanical standards of writing, including bibliographic citation. C Paper: This paper is adequate to fulfill the assignment, but it might be better described as an annotated bibliography. Points may be hard to follow and the paper may be poorly organized (e.g., unbroken narrative with no headings or clear relationships; literature review that summarize sources in sequence instead of synthesizing points supported by references). Sources of information are poorly chosen –insufficient in number, of inappropriate types, too old, lacking in authority, etc. There may be errors in usage, the style may be inappropriate for the assignment, or there may be errors in mechanics of writing or citation. D Paper: This paper meets only the minimum requirement of the assignment. The paper may lack adequate focus and instead attempt to cover too broad a topic. There may be serious error of fact or interpretation. Cited information comes from no authoritative sources in this field. Citations are incomplete or inaccurate or are formatted incorrectly. F Paper: This paper does not fulfill the assignment. It may omit important material lying within its declared scope or make repeated errors of fact or interpreta…

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