Each paper is to be approximately 7-10 pages long. You may use your textbook or assigned articles as sources, but your paper must also include information from at least four additional sources. One of those sources must be a scholarly chapter providing background information. A second source must be a peer-reviewed empirical article (with a method and results section). The remaining two (or more) sources may be any scholarly sources. Credible sources cited to give background information on the "problem" you choose (see below) do not count toward the four required sources. See specific directions for the paper below. Note that there is a proposal/outline for this paper due on the date listed in the course schedule. Let me know if you have questions.
Choose a problem that's important to you, analyze the situation using
social psychological concepts, then propose a solution (based on social
psychological theory). To define your problem, you can draw on your personal
life experiences, films, news events, etc. In the past, general paper topics
have ranged from the environment, to racism on campus or in sports, to the media's portrayal
of women. In developing ideas, keep a sharp eye on events in the world and your
life as class progresses and generate a paper idea by noticing social psychology
in your world.
The problem that you choose to analyze needs, of course, to be fairly specific and well-defined. Thus, “the environment” is not a good topic. “Recycling on campus” is better. Also, the problem you choose is merely the topic of your paper. You do need a thesis and inter-related arguments to create the architecture of your paper. Social psychological theory and empirical evidence (i.e., studies) should be laid onto that basic architecture to support your points. Your proposed solution would be the most likely place to find your thesis.
You should be cautious about generating an overly simplistic paper. I'm anticipating interesting, coherent papers with complex applications: not 7 pages listing a bunch of simple two-sentence applications. For example, most of the past papers I’ve read that exclusively define the existence of “stereotypes” or occurrence of “prejudice” (without going in to more depth using the theories we have learned) have been overly simplistic and superficial. Note that the response paper assignments were designed to elicit the sort of information I expect to see in the final paper (e.g., descriptions of studies, integration & analysis). See more hints and tips below.
Very important suggestions for this assignment:
Your paper should describe the problem and solution sufficiently, but the majority of your paper should reflect the application of social psychological concepts. For example, I don't want 6 pages about the problem exclusively and 1 page of social psych. Integrate the application with your description of the problem and solution.
When writing your applications, be sure that you apply all components of a theory or concept, noting where the theory or concept fits and where it doesn’t (giving suggestions why).
It is likely you will be analyzing your problem using a mix of various theories and concepts. Please note: quantity of links to social psychology is not as important as quality of your applications. Your paper will be graded for how thoughtful and articulate it is, not for sheer number of sources or theories. I’ve had great papers that happen to only use 3 concepts and lousy papers that use as many as 10. In-depth explanation, exploration and application matters.
Be sure to spell out for the reader, in very small and detailed steps, how social psychology helps us understand the problem and suggests a solution. Be sure your reasoning is complete and fully elaborated.
Nuts and Bolts (note below, the grade sheet lists automatic deductions for failures to follow basic instructions)
Your paper should be 7-10 pages. Double-spaced. Approximately one inch margins all around. Use 12 point Times New Roman font or the equivalent.
For a paper of this length ONE quote is more than enough. Avoid paraphrasing. Paraphrasing can slip easily into plagiarism and also makes for a boring paper. Remember that the following website is required reading: Avoiding Inappropriate Paraphrasing.
Follow the APA style guidelines described at the following website for citing your sources in the text of your paper and formatting information about your References page: Finding, Reading and Citing Your Sources.
Please DO staple your pages together, but JUST staple -- no folders or fancy cover sheets.
You may rely on the textbook, readings and lectures as references, but you are also required to draw substantively from FOUR additional sources. One of those sources must be a scholarly chapter providing background information on your social psychological topic area. A second source must be a peer-reviewed empirical article (with a method and results section). The remaining two (or more) sources may be any scholarly sources. Note: Entire books and dissertations are not acceptable as references for this paper. Book chapters which review empirical research and journal articles are fine.
In addition to the sources mentioned above, you may also use non-scholarly, but credible sources for information about your problem (e.g., The New York Times). You must use (at least 4) scholarly sources for any psychological information, but merely credible sources are fine for the description and/or background of your problem.
Do not rely only on the abstract of a scholarly article. You will need to actually obtain the article (PSYCHINFO only provides abstracts) and read it. Some articles are quite complex. Feel free to ask me for help “translating.” Start early as you’ll probably have to use interlibrary loan (ILL) to obtain your articles.
Fully describe and explain the social psychological theories and concepts, including descriptions of studies that were done to provide evidence for either a concept or your application/argument. Choose studies from PSYCHINFO, and/or studies described in the readings or lecture that seem relevant, in some way, to your topic. Remember that you can apply a general research findings (e.g., the fundamental attribution error, basic memory processes) to your specific topic.
When deciding how much of a study to describe, consider what elements of the study would persuade a reader of your point. For example, in most instances, knowing the number of subjects that were run in the study is not useful information. However, if the study is about a special subset of the population (e.g., AIDS patients), it would be useful to know if the research findings are based on results from 3 people or 30. In most instances, knowing the names of the scales that were administered is irrelevant to your point; even mentioning ALL of the surveys and results is often too much. Pick and choose the relevant aspects of the study design and findings. Don't let your sources dictate how you write your paper. Remember your own logic or outline as you cite sources.
After choosing a topic but before writing the paper – be very certain you understand all the theories and concepts you are going to include. Feel free to come to me for clarification.
The point of the assignment is for you to demonstrate to me that you understand and can “use” what you are learning in this class. Thus, write to an audience unfamiliar with social psychology. Use social psychology terms and explain them IN YOUR OWN WORDS - copying or even paraphrasing definitions from the textbook is not acceptable.
I encourage you to show me rough drafts of your paper. While I can’t, in one quick read, identify all problems, I can let you know where the big rough spots are and give you an indication of whether you are on the right track or not.
Note: GOOD WRITERS ARE RELENTLESS REVISERS.
A copy of the standard criteria I use to grade papers is below. Read it carefully. Also read the description of the assignment you choose carefully. Read it now, read it while you are working, read it just before you turn in the assignment. A surprising number of students receive lowered grades simply because they overlooked some aspect of the directions.
In short summary, a good paper will be: accurate, well-reasoned, complete, and well-organized. An excellent paper will be all of the above as well as: meaningful, interesting, and “eloquently” written with all points elaborated and defended in a compelling way.
Note: Being “eloquent” means being articulate, persuasive, interesting, concise but including appropriate detail… it does not require flowery words or emotion.
THESE ARE THE ISSUES I CONSIDERED WHILE READING YOUR PAPER:
1. How important and meaningful does the paper seem? Were your ideas explored deeply and expressed in their full complexity? Was your critique compelling or your application creative? In other words, did you take the assignment and really delve into it thoughtfully?
____ Powerful, insightful, important ideas. I learned from reading this; I see things differently now. It’s clear you’ve thought a lot about this. Thanks for teaching me!
____ Good, interesting, and significant. Good!
____ OK, but stays a bit on the surface of things. Explore more deeply. Question more!
____ Seems sort of superficial.
2. Were your ideas presented and defended in an accurate and logical way? Might you help educate or convince someone who initially didn’t understand or who disagreed with you? Did you do more than merely state your ideas; did you also explore them, question them, defend them, show their connection to other ideas? Did you add credibility and depth to the paper by presenting empirical studies or other research findings where appropriate?
____ Thorough and logical; well reasoned. Makes appropriate use of course readings, discussions or other theory or data. Quite convincing and provocative.
____ Accurate, logical use of readings and/or other materials, but explanation or defense could be strengthened.
____ OK, but seems too subjective or incomplete.
____ Slow down a bit, think through what you are trying to say and defend!
3. Did the writing style help make the ideas credible and powerful? Were the ideas organized in a compelling way? Was the presentation interesting? How were the grammar, punctuation, spelling, construction? Did you follow the directions for font and margins? Was the paper clear? Was it eloquent? (If you would like to polish any of these important skills, I recommend the Writing Center.)
____ Eloquent; articulate, well-constructed; very clear.
____ Good in construction (e.g., grammar, spelling, etc.) but not eloquent.
____ Some problems in construction (see above).
____ You need to work on this!
Deduction: Paper Must be Re-written for any Credit & final product will be docked 2 Letter Grades (as per syllabus)
Deduction: 1 Letter Grade
obvious failure to spell-check or proof-read
failure to use four or more outside, scholarly articles or book chapters
numerous egregious grammatical errors
Deduction: 1/3 Letter Grade
obvious inattention to assignment formatting requirements (e.g. APA style citations, margins)
failure to attach photocopies of the first page of each outside article