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English 102/ YOUR RESEARCH PAPER: AN OVERVIEW

– The Basics

– Choosing a specific topic related directly to our course theme about changes in publishing, you will write a ten-page analytical research paper in which you defend an arguable thesis by means of scholarly research.

A good way to define “arguable” is just to say that someone could, conceivably, disagree with your thesis; as in your papers in English 101, your thesis needs to make a specific claim.

Assessment: This paper is worth 50% of your final grade in English 102. Preliminary assignments which function as “steps” toward your paper also factor into your final grade for the class.

Length and Format: Approximately ten pages of neatly typed (word-processed), double-spaced text, with title page, formal outline, and MLA in-text citations and Works Cited page.

Content: In your research paper, you’ll present the answer (your thesis) to an original research question you’ll have articulated in earlier steps of the research process. You’ll defend your thesis using the authoritative scholarly sources you will have found in the library, and the organizational approach you’ll have carefully outlined as part of the process. Your general purpose will be to persuade your readers (your instructor and classmates) to understand and accept your point of view. You’ll argue for a position or thesis; you’ll analyze research that has already been conducted; and you’ll maintain an academic tone in your writing.

Please note that for the purposes of this class, although your paper must have an academic tone, I encourage you to write using the first-person voice (“I”) because ultimately you’re expressing your own ideas and research on your topic. You can use personal examples, etc, as long as your ideas are based overall on research sources, as English 102 requires you to demonstrate your ability to write a research-based paper.

Research Sources: Your research paper must contain at least ten relevant secondary sources, three of which must be periodicals. It’s okay with me if all of your sources are from periodicals, but these periodicals must be reputable scholarly journals (check with me if you’re not sure what qualifies as reputable and scholarly). Probably, you’ll locate the most useful periodicals through library databases like ProQuest; see http://edcc.libguides.com/articles_databases for links to this and other databases. In addition, I suggest you utilize at least one public library system, as our local public libraries have different database subscriptions than the Edmonds CC library does; see http://www.sno-isle.org, or better yet, drop by your local public library!

– Detailed List of Specifications for the Research Paper

– 1. The specific topic of your research must be pertinent to the course theme; however, it may approach the course theme through any legitimate academic discipline or field of inquiry for which suitable sources exist, such as history, economics, art history, musicology, philosophy, sociology, psychology, literary analysis, anthropology, political science, or cultural studies.

2. The topic must be suitable for college-level academic research and be appropriately scaled to the specified length of the paper.

3. The topic must be capable of being discussed on factual grounds derived from researched material rather than purely personal preference or belief.

4. The topic must be submitted for my approval based on my judgment of its suitability and workability for the course and its likelihood to result in a successful research paper. Once your topic has been approved through your research proposal, you may not change it, although you may modify, refine, or recast your thesis during the course of your research.

– Sources –

1. The research paper must draw on a minimum of ten solid sources, at least three of which must be scholarly journals. You can use general reference guides such as encyclopedias and Wikipedia as springboards for your research projects, but these will not qualify as scholarly sources in your final Works Cited list. While the Internet is a useful research tool, material from it is only as reliable as the source of that material.

2. Websites (as opposed to sources retrieved from online library databases) may be used judiciously IF they are demonstrably authoritative and pertinent to the topic, but you may only count them as three of the required ten sources.

3. The ten required sources will be secondary sources. Sources such as general encyclopedias may be used as general references, but will not count toward the requirement. Primary sources should be used if they are pertinent (a film or novel, for example, counts as a primary source) but primary sources are not required if they are not pertinent to your topic.

4. Your research paper will include among its sources at least three articles from scholarly, professional, or specialized journals of recognized authority in the field.

5. The sources must be timely and authoritative, reflecting current scholarship or informed opinion about the topic. Sources such as coffee table books or individuals’ websites are generally not acceptable sources for a research paper. SOMETIMES you can use a blog or individual’s website if the person is an expert in the field.

6. The research paper must apply analytical and critical reading skills to the sources and use them judiciously to develop its argument.

7. The sources must be distributed throughout the paper; one or two sources must not dominate.

8. No more than around 10-15% of the paper may be quoted; the rest must be in your own words, with summarized or paraphrased material from sources clearly and correctly documented using MLA format

– Documentation –

1. The research paper must be documented in current MLA style; it MUST employ internal citations and Works Cited as spelled out in the course texts.

2. All quotations must be accurately, exactly, and correctly documented. Summaries and paraphrases of borrowed material that is not common knowledge must also be accurately documented.

3. Plagiarism, whether inadvertent or deliberate, large-scale or small, will be grounds for a failing grade on the research paper, which also means a failing grade for the course. You’re responsible for using the principles and techniques of MLA documentation as they are demonstrated and practiced in class throughout the quarter.

– Development –

1. The research paper must contain the elements of an extended essay of formal or academic argument, including background information, supporting evidence and arguments for the thesis, and anticipation and response to potential objections to the claim in the thesis, all supported by documented material from reputable sources.

2. The research paper must employ clear, systematic reasoning and sound logic. Like any other expository essay, the research paper must follow a clear, coherent, logical and appropriate pattern (paradigm) of organization and use transitions and coherence devices to create a continuous flow of thought.

– Mechanics and Manuscript Form –

1. The research paper must be written in clear, correct English that is appropriate to an academic occasion. All parts of the assignment must be carefully proofread for errors in grammar, punctuation, MLA format, etc.

2. The research paper must be presented in the manuscript form that is spelled out in the course text and handouts.

– Process –

1. Research Tasks: Over the course of the quarter, you’ll complete a series of several “step” assignments toward the completion of the research paper.

2. Writing Process: As students in an advanced composition course, you’re expected to employ the writing process, including prewriting strategies, pre-drafting and drafting, deliberation and revision, editing, production, and proofreading. In a writing project of this nature and scope, the steps in the process are vital to the creation of a mature, polished work that demonstrates your grasp of your topic and of the subject matter of English 102.

– Assessment –

The research paper will be graded in three areas: content (critical thinking and development), form (organization and mechanics, including grammar), and documentation (MLA) and research (depth and appropriateness of research demonstrated).

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