What is the Term Paper Prospectus?

The Term Paper Prospectus does two difficult things in exactly one page:

  1. It restates or describes the specific problem you have chosen to work on for your Term Paper from the provided list of Term Paper Topics; and
  2. It describes how you think you will approach solving the problem.

Of course, in spelling out (however briefly) how you think you might be able to solve the problem, you are not thereby committing yourself to a particular course of argument. Rather, you are getting started in the process of thinking about the problem; no doubt what you eventually say about the problem will be very different from what you anticipate saying in the Term Paper Prospectus. After a fair bit of research you will likely see what you wrote in the Term Paper Prospectus as altogether naive and misguided. No matter: You have to start somewhere.

Why do we have to write a Prospectus?

It's a helpful way for me to find out what interests you so as to make suggestions for further reading. It is also a phenomenally useful exercise for you to develop your thoughts. It provides something of a roadmap to help focus your thoughts on the term paper. Better, it helps give you something to get over the 'blank page' hurdle of beginning a term paper.

What format should be used for the Prospectus?

In principle, you should be able to articulate the problem and its 'solution' in a single sentence. In the interests of clarifying your thoughts, however, you need more space. You have to explain any special terms, perhaps by example. It should be possible to get all of this done on a single page--say, 8.5x11 with reasonable margins and a reasonable font. It may be single-spaced.

When is the Prospectus due?

According to our calendar, the Term Paper Prospectus is due in class Thursday, February 27. Be sure to spend time thinking about and investigating these topics. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is an excellent place to start. Note that I will meet with each of you individually to discuss your prospectus at length and suggest further reading.

What is the Prospectus worth?

As per the syllabus, the Term Paper Prospectus is worth 50 points.