Term Paper

The Term Paper Project (revised 3/19)

Email Instructions

Beginning with Problem Set 05, now due 3/24, you will submit the various stages of the term paper project by email to berkich@gmail.com;. Make sure your documents are in an editable format and use a "Name-Assignment.whatever" format. Thus Joe Smith will title his word document submission of the Critically Annotated Bibliography, now due Thursday 4/9, "JSmith-Annotated-Bibliography.doc". Finally, make sure the assignment name and your name also appear in the subject line of the email you send. Easy, right?

An important outcome of your work in this class will be a substantial term paper. I expect you to apply what you have learned about writing philosophy from working on the problem sets to a much larger and more involved project. That is, you have been learning how to write clearly, carefully, and effectively about philosophically sophisticated topics. To date, though, your efforts have been applied to explaining others' theories and arguments. No doubt, some of you have chaffed at this, wanting to explore your own positions and arguments. The term paper is your opportunity to develop your own line of argument on a specific topic of your choosing. You will apply the same rigorous standards of analysis and clarity you have been learning on your problem sets to developing your term paper.

To be sure, this is a daunting task. It is not something that can be left to the last minute, and you need as much feedback on it as time allows. Thus I am adopting three strategies to help you with this project.

First, I have divided the project into four specific milestones:

  1. The Prospectus, where you discuss the problem you plan to explore;
  2. The Critically Annotated Bibliography, where you compile critical summaries of the relevant literature;
  3. The Rough Draft, where you begin to flesh out the main argument you plan to present; and,
  4. The Final Draft, where you present a polished, sustained, sophisticated, and refined scholarly article.

Please note that the due dates, below, are the last dates for which work will be accepted for credit; you are welcomed and encouraged to get work done before these due dates. Each milestone is worth the indicated number of points as per the syllabus.

Second, we will meet individually to discuss your prospectus and your rough draft so I can give you as much guidance on your project as I can.

Third, due in large measure to comments on past evaluations, I am moving our schedule up this semester so as to get an early start. The upside is that you should have ample time to research, write, and revise, achieving a finely polished final draft. The downside is that we start so early we won't have had time to cover most of the topics we eventually will, some of which could be crucial to your individual studies. There is always this tension in doing a term paper, I suppose.

Plowing ahead, however, here are the topics and instructions for each of the milestones:

  1. Term Paper Topics
  2. Term Paper Prospectus (Assigned Thursday, 2/20; Due Thursday, 2/27. Worth 50 points.)
  3. The Annotated Bibliography (Assigned Tuesday, 3/03; Due Thursday, 4/9. Worth 100 points.)
  4. The Rough Draft (Assigned Thursday, 4/9; Due Thursday, 4/23. Worth 150 points.)
  5. The Final Draft (Assigned Thursday, 4/23; Due Thursday, 5/14 by Noon. Worth 200 points.)