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Research paper

RESEARCH PAPER:  Each of you will prepare a research paper of between 8 – 10 pages, exclusive of title page and notes, with standard 1 – inch margins and 12 – point font, highlighting a particular issue relevant to the United States Government.


1.  You should use at least four scholarly sources.  Note that “scholarly sources” generally come from peer – reviewed articles.  Popular blogs,, newspaper articles and the like are, generally speaking not scholarly sources.  You may use those sources as appropriate, but they do not count as one of your four scholarly sources.

2. Your paper should focus on an issue relevant to American National Government.  All three words are important.

3. You should have proper citations throughout your paper – not just a “works cited” page at the end.

4. Your paper should read as a seamless whole with proper transitions.  In other words, do not simply summarize four scholarly sources in haphazard fashion, or paste a bunch of quotes into the paper.

5. And speaking of quotes:  You should use them very judiciously and sparingly.  A paper with a large percentage of quotes is almost certainly a bad paper.  Never quote purely factual information.  Quotes should be memorable.


I have purposely left the choice of topic open, but make sure it is relevant to American National Government.  If in doubt, consult me!  You may do your debate topic for your final research paper.


Now a note about “rubrics”; they have become all the rage in academia, a trend that I do not support.  I do not believe that a research paper ( or any other project) can be neatly deconstructed into “10 points for this and 10 points for that” and so forth.  And while I do not “grade” on grammar and formatting, I still am not willing to accept a paper that has numerous typos or does not have proper citations.  So please keep this in mind:  Although I assign only a limited number of points for things such as formatting and citations,  I reserve the right to reject a paper because it is not minimally acceptable with respect to those issues.  Specifically, and for example, a paper with no citations is an automatic “F,” anything in the rubric notwithstanding.    With all of that said:


Research Paper rubric:

















Paper characteristic Points
Formatting and Grammar:  Is paper compliant with APA formatting?  Is paper grammatical with good transitions and does it flow logically and persuasively? 2 = Formatting is properly done and paper is well-written.

1 = Paper has numerous grammatical or typographical errors

0 = paper is improperly formatted and/or incomprehensible in places


REMEMBER:  I expect grammatical papers.  If the paper does not measure up to the standard of upper-level university work, I will return it to you for revision.

Citations – are they complete and included where necessary?  Are they properly formatted? 3  = excellent and complete

2 = fair; may be incomplete or improperly formatted

0 – 1 = many citations omitted or improperly constructed.


REMEMBER:  Paper will be rejected with an an automatic “F” if there are no citations.

Topicality:  Does paper emphasize the importance of an issue relevant to American National Government? 5 = excellent

4 = good, although there may be some extraneous information

3 = fair; too much extraneous information

2 = poor – extraneous information is major part of paper

0 – 1 = extraneous information dominates

Substance:  Does the paper accurately and fully capture the important aspects of the selected topic? 9 –  10 = excellent   0 – 5 = poorly or not at all

8  = good

6 – 7 = fair



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