Paper Assignment: Structure

Report on Research

The paper assignments all require you to collect some information and to present it with special attention to general issues. You should aim to develop a coherent written presentation, not simply a set of notes providing information.

Make a plan, or paper outline, and use it to structure your paper. Even in the outline stage, sketch what your general conclusions will be, and take care to build up to these, being explicit about how you are arguing for your position.

References You must include some references to other literature. Use a standard form, for example the form used in my papers.

Mistakes to Avoid

Structure: Include an introduction and a conclusion, but limit these to no more than 10% each. Be explicit about the argumentation, e.g., instead of simply listing borrowed words and saying what happened to them, provide some structure, and let the reader know about it.

"We now turn to examples of borrowed words from the domain of sailing and shipping. These are interesting and their large number suggests that sea trade and travel created extensive linguistic contact."

Avoid writing the paper largely as commentary on another paper. Instead, consider what you wish to say, and shape it into a coherent paper, making reference to other works as the issues they discuss arise.

Level: Aim at a level that would be appropriate in a serious newspaper (New York Times, London Times, Frankfurter Algemeine, ...) in the science section. Avoid the style of the teenage magazines, which is much less formal.

References I assume that the general rules for what needs to cited are known, but I'll remind you of some: te herhalen.

  1. Everything that is literally repeated from another source should be in quotation marks with a reference to the source.
  2. Everything that is "general knowledge" needs no reference, and it is a mistake to provide one. Assume the "general knowledge" of a first-year university student.
  3. You could puzzle about whether general knowledge that is quoted exactly needs to have a reference. But no, general knowledge should not be quote exactly. Put it in your own words.
  4. Use a consistent style, e.g., the one used in my papers.

Note: I hate plagiarism, and I've written software to detect it. See my web site on the authorship of the Beatles' songs (the ones attributed jointly to Lennon and McCartney).