The next three papers will all be closely related to your specific issue: Paper 4 will be a paper proposal in which you detail your reasons for choosing your issue, briefly explaining the issue and its relevance/significance to the field, and detailing a plan of study; Paper 5 will present an in depth examination of your issue and how that issue is viewed from varying perspectives in your field; in paper six you will (finally) take a stand on the issue and present your own (by now, well-researched) position on the issue.
For Paper 4, you will gather the sources which you will eventually use for all three papers. Eight sources is an absolute minimum. You may use as many as you like, but it seems likely that using more than fifteen or so may result in confusion, chaos and exhaustion. You need not have access to all of your sources when you turn in Paper 4; some may have to be "potential sources" if you find you must order them through interlibrary loan., a process that may take up to two weeks.
Paper 4 is less a paper in itself than a proposal for a paper--a type of document frequently used for seminar papers in graduate level courses which are modeled after thesis and dissertation proposals. Hence, the organizational plan for Paper 4 will be highly structured in keeping with these guidelines:
Points #1 and #2 may be interchanged if you feel that your paper will be more effectively organized this way, but the structure of the paper should include all of these elements. Whichever point you decide to address first, this discussion should not make up your introduction, but should come after your introduction, which should be broad enough to suggest how you will proceed to address the first three guidelines.
Since a bibliography is an essential component of this paper, you will have to investigate the documentation used by the publications in your field--Chicago Style, APA, MLA, etc. Be sure to follow all organizing guidelines within your documentation style: you should not only provide all the information your documentation style requires, you should be certain that it is correctly formatted on the page. Pay attention to such details as whether or not to double-space, use hanging indentation, appropriate underlining and punctuation within your citations. Most of this information should be found either by examining the documentation style at the end of a researched article or, sometimes, the journals themselves detail submission information, including style guidelines.
Some of you may have a major emphasis which overlaps or combines two separate fields utilizing two different documentation styles. In this case you will have to decide if your particular emphasis of issue "leans" more toward one or the other field, and then use the appropriate documentation style. This will also necessitate "translating" some of your sources out of their documentation style in to yours--in other words, don't just copy publication information verbatim if it originally appeared in a documentation style other than the one you have decided is most appropriate.
One of the most significant results of your research on this paper should be narrow your focus to a specific aspect--a concrete, non-general consideration of the facets of an issue. This process may entail "peeling back the layers" of an issue until you have revealed specific points of controversy or differing approaches to a problem/issue. You may find that a topic which seems specific enough at the onset becomes much larger as you become more knowledgeable. You can always narrow your focus as you go along, but to minimize extra work, begin as specifically as possible. For example, if you plan to write on discipline in junior high schools, you will quickly need to narrow your focus to a specific aspect of discipline, such as the controversy surrounding corporal punishment, innovative disciplinary methods, etc. On the other hand, the impact of AIDS in the business world is much too broad a topic--but you might be able to successfully narrow your focus to specific workplaces, or some of the specific issues raised by the problem of AIDS in the business world. If you do begin at a fairly general level, be prepared to read (or at least skim) some articles, then narrow your focus to a single issue within the broader topic.
The audience for this paper is a committee which has the power to either support the research on your paper project with time and money, or to leave you to your own devices. In a sense then, this paper is a persuasive writing. You must convince the committee members that you are engaged in this topic, that you understand the topic and its significance to your field, and that you are prepared to produce an intelligent and useful analysis on the issue. Nonetheless, be sure to write for this audience, not to it--in other words, no reference to committee itself should be found in your paper, nor should any sentences along the lines of "I'm engaged because. . .," "I understand this topic and its significance . . .," etc. Your consideration of the topic alone should generate these impressions in your readers--by reading the subtext "between the lines", your audience will form its own evaluation of your engagement, knowledge, and preparations to proceed wisely. Make sure that the focus of the paper remains your issue, not your endeavors to locate and define an issue--no "I would like to work on this issue because. . . " sentences. Let the facets of the issues speak for themselves.
*** The only out of class writer's notebook assignment for this paper is a record of your interview with a professional or educator in your field. This must include a complete list of questions you intend to ask (due before the interview), notes you have taken during the interview itself and a summary of responses to your questions. The summary should be a one to two page summary of the important points brought out in the interview and should constitute a separate writing within the notebook. Yes, it should be written on a word processor or computer.
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