Term Paper Instructions
Child Development Theories
General Writing Instructions:
Once your proposal has been approved, you can begin the task of a thorough literature review of your topic. Remember to use scholarly sources, and remember to use APA style throughout your paper. †You should continue to develop your outline as you find more articles. Your outline will help to keep your thoughts and your writing organized. I will be happy to review your outline as your paper topic develops. You must start your paper early, and work on it gradually throughout the semester. It is all too obvious when a paper has been written in a weekend. I fully expect you to stay in contact with me as you work (in fact, your participation grade relies on it).
††††††††††† An excellent writer in the field of child development once gave me a piece of advice that I use to this day. When writing a paper, first say what youíre going to say, say it, then say what you said. Sounds simple, doesnít it?† Yet Iíve found it is the essence of good, clear writing.† To you, the writer, it may seem somewhat repetitive, but a certain amount of appropriate repetition of key points is needed (and it wonít seem repetitive to your reader if you do it right).† In the following paragraphs, Iíll explain how this should work.
Begin your paper with a good introduction. Introduce the topic, and then essentially tell me what youíre going to sayówhat can I expect to read in the body of the paper? A good introduction serves as a road map to your paper, and helps to keep the reader organized and focused as he/she reads.
††††††††††† Once you tell me what youíre going to say, then you say it. Go into detail about each of the topics that you say youíre going to discuss. Make sure that youíve read and understand the articles before you begin writing. Synthesize what youíve learned. Do not simply give summaries of one article after another. This is not an annotated bibliography. This is your paper, written in your own words, about what youíve learned about a particular topic. If you need to summarize the articles (or at least the aspects of them that are relevant to your paper) for yourself before you begin your paper, thatís fine. Once youíve summarized the key points from the articles that youíd like to use, organize them topically (consistent with your outline) for yourself. Many writers find that to be useful. Itís best not to have the article itself in front of you as you write, although you can certainly refer to it if you need to. Itís too easy to plagiarize (even inadvertently) if you write while reading the articles. Plagiarism, whether intentional or unintentional, is a serious form of academic misconduct that should be avoided at all costs.
††††††††††† Once youíve completed the body of your paper, write your discussion/conclusion section. Students are generally weak at writing introductions and conclusions. A short, one paragraph conclusion will be inadequate. A good conclusion should go on for a page or so. Refer back to your introduction to make sure you touch on all the points you mentioned there (which should also be all the points you elaborated on in your paper), then basically say what you said (summarize your main points). Now that youíve written about 15 pages, itís time to make the point of all your research clear. What do you want your reader to get from your paper? In what direction do you see this line of research/area of study going based on what you learned? Again, I would be happy to work with you on that and to provide you with feedback as you write.†
Because I have found that students need a great deal of feedback in order to develop as writers (and thinkers), and because I want you all to do well in the course, I am requiring that you turn in at least one rough draft, which is worth 75 points. I donít expect your conclusion to have quite jelled yet, and I donít expect that you will have finished the body of the paper. In fact, I fully expect that your introduction will need some revision by the time youíre done. Therefore, I will not hold the rough draft to the same standard as your final paper. However, I do expect that you have found and have incorporated into your paper at least 10 relevant articles, and that your paper should, by the time the rough draft is due, be at least 10 pages in length (10 pages of text, not including references or cover sheet). (This does not mean that you need to devote one page to each reference; obviously, you will rely more heavily on some references than others as appropriate.)† For more information on what is expected of your rough draft, read the grading criteria sheet. I will provide you with detailed feedback based on your rough draft that you can use to finish your final draft of your term paper.
Responding to all the comments from your rough draft will help to ensure success on your final term paper. Do not lose momentum. Continue to work on your paper consistently; you may turn it in prior to the due date. The final paper will include a well developed introduction, body, and conclusion. It will be at least 15 pages in length (of text) and include at least 15 scholarly references. Your final draft should be free of grammatical errors, and APA style errors should all be corrected at this point. You should have a good grasp of your subject matter, and your writing should convey that. Keep your writing clear and concise. Long, awkward sentences are not impressive. Good, clearly expressed ideas are. Try to avoid the overuse of passive voice, as it leads to awkward, less clear writing. (Some social scientists tend to use passive voice a lot in their writing, but the APA Manual recommends against it. Itís just bad writing by anyoneís standards.) Again, checking the grading criteria will help to ensure that you earn a good grade on your paper. Again, check the grading criteria sheet for more specific information about the term paper requirements and grading.
Extra incentive: If I am very impressed by your work, I would be willing to spend time working with you to submit your paper for publication to a scholarly journal. A publication can greatly enhance your resume. For those of you who are planning to pursue a Ph.D., it can help you get into a good program. Itís a good deal, so take me up on it.