Note: Sections in boldface below indicate requirements
that must be fulfilled to earn a satisfactory grade (C or above) on the research
paper. Use this page, especially the boldface portions, as a checklist
while you complete and edit your paper. A B paper is above average and an A
paper is excellent in its fulfillment of these requirements, with a precise,
insightful, well-focused thesis; effective, well-organized examples and
discussion to support the thesis; sentences that are smoothly worded and clear;
and few or no errors in proofreading or documentation.
The major paper (containing at least ten pages of discussion) can explore
any aspect of nineteenth-century literature. The topic may overlap with your
other shorter assignments or pursue a different subject. The paper must include some
analysis of at least one primary work of literature (more than simply mentioning
specific titles). Although your topic may connect literature with
other subjects, be sure that you are writing a literature paper, and do
not stray too far with general discussion of other issues involving social problems
You should have your definite topic approved no later than Dec. 1.
The paper is due on Fri., Dec. 19 in the drop box. (Think about
how it will affect your exam schedule if you choose to complete the paper
during exam week.)
Everything in the paper should support a central thesis. I
strongly recommend that you have your thesis approved before the paper
deadline. Starting a final draft without a clearly stated thesis in the
introduction can lead to multiple problems with unity, coherence, clarity
and organization in both long and short papers. It is often helpful to refine the thesis and revise the
introduction after a draft of the whole paper is completed. Since writing is
a process of discovering new ideas about your topic, ask yourself after
completing the paper whether it is unified in support of the thesis as you
originally formulated it, and whether the introduction could do a better job
of leading into the precise focus and main idea of the paper once you have
all the ideas worked out in a draft.
The paper must make reference to at least three secondary sources (reference
books, reviews, critical books or articles, etc.), in addition to the primary work(s) of literature discussed. Personal letters,
interviews, and Internet resources may be used, as long as they
are reliable sources, they are documented accurately, and you have at least
two or three written sources from edited books or periodicals (whether
obtained online or elsewhere). Databases available in the library and
through the library’s home page provide abstracts and full text of many
articles online, as well as reference-book articles that give background on
authors and full-text books online.
For the MLA Bibliography and
other reliable reference sources on literature such as
Contemporary Authors Online, in the
Ferrum College Library web site, go to links for Resources by
Subject, then Language and Literature, then MLA Bibliography or Literature
Sources must be documented accurately using
MLA or APA format. The Little, Brown Handbook and Hacker's Rules for Writers give
instructions for standard format in academic papers and preparation of
research papers, including use of quotations and documentation (see also
Little, Brown Handbook online guide to documentation). The MLA Handbook for
Writers of Research Papers, 7th ed. (in reference section of our library) has more detail on MLA documentation.
Some types of literature, such as illustrated books and folktales,
may require that you indicate in citations the illustrator, translator,
or editor of a work, or whether a book lacks pagination. (N. pag.
is the MLA abbreviation used for unpaged books.) If you have done
background reading you want to acknowledge, in addition to the sources cited
within the essay, you can label your reference list at the end Works Consulted
instead of Works Cited.
Supporting materials (copies of letters or illustrations, samples of student
work, etc.) may be attached in one or more appendices. Make sure each
appendix is clearly labeled and the reader of the paper can tell how it
relates to specific parts of the paper.
All papers must be typed and double-spaced, with pages numbered. You can
make last-minute corrections neatly in ink on the final typed copy if necessary.
Be sure to leave time to edit and proofread the paper carefully
(including checking it after the final copy is printed). Check carefully
throughout the paper for inconsistent verb tenses (a common and distracting
error in literature papers) and other mechanical errors. I or professors in the Writing Center
will advise on drafts of papers at your request. If a paper is submitted
with frequent mechanical errors, imprecise and unclear wording, or multiple
errors in the format of documentation, I reserve the right to stop marking
specific errors and assign a grade of D or F. For a review of common
proofreading and editing problems, see Marking Symbols and Terms
for English Papers.
As stated on the course syllabus, plagiarism or any other form of cheating
will result in severe penalties, which may include failure of the course.
You are responsible for reading and understanding the Ferrum College
Honor Policy, and for avoiding the undocumented use of the words
or ideas of others in your writing. If your paper involves literature
not in the assigned texts for the course, be sure the professor has access
to that literature. It is a good idea to keep copies of pages in secondary
sources from which you take specific ideas, information, or quotations that
you cite directly in papers. I will not grade a paper if I have any
questions about its use of sources, until those questions are answered and
corrections are made if necessary. If there is no time left at the
end of the semester for corrections, papers with inadequate or inaccurate
documentation will receive an automatic F.
College-wide writing requirements:
This course is designated as a Writing
Intensive course; this list of requirements, adopted by the
faculty in 2005-2006, will be helpful as you complete your research
paper in this 300-level English course.
grades of C or higher in writing intensive courses demonstrate competence in the
Appropriate presentation of content
Evidence of effective college-level or
professional writing skills, including
unified focus and organization
logical development of ideas and arguments
precise and effective wording
standard sentence structure and vocabulary
avoidance of mechanical and grammatical
complete and accurate documentation of
Ability to adapt writing style to needs of
Additional elements of format or design
appropriate to the discipline and the particular assignment.
November 26, 2011
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