Research Report

Research Report (30%)
This assignment is an essay in which you will use your four sources to argue and prove a thesis
(your thesis should be your answer to the topic question).
(these must be followed)
• 1200-1500 words in length.
• Double-spaced.
• 12 font.
• Referenced according to the course’s style guide.
• Preceded by a cover page containing the project’s title, the date, the class, your name, and
my name.
• Use all four of the sources provided.
Introduction: establish the context by providing a short history of the question at hand.
State your thesis, what you are trying to prove. State how you are going to go about
proving it, point-by-point. An introduction for a paper of this size is usually one
Body: the main part of your paper. You should have three to five points that are going to
prove your argument; these should be turned into clearly defined paragraphs. Either begin
or conclude with your strongest argument. Do not hesitate to break your body up into
small sections.
Conclusion: restate your problem and summarise the arguments you have used to answer
it. Show what conclusions you have arrived at by answering your question.
Due: Tuesday 1 December before 11h30am
The Report must:
• Offer evidence in support of its central thesis.
• Interpret all of the evidence, not merely the evidence that is convenient or supportive to
its thesis.
• Have the conclusions follow the evidence, not vice versa.
• Be falsifiable (i.e. it must be possible to prove the central thesis wrong. E.g. ‘The western
democratic process has yet to reach its peak’ is falsifiable in that one can plausibly argue
for or against this statement; ‘Prehistoric societies were democratic’ is a thesis that can
never be fully proven or disproven because of lack of evidence, and thus is not falsifiable
and cannot be a logical argument; equally, ‘The Romans had a powerful empire’ is not an
argument because no one disputes this, and thus there is only one side).
Some General Advice
• Every argument has two sides (it must if it is to be falsifiable), but not two equal sides.
Experts can be found to back any view, no matter how outrageous. However, the number
of experts who subscribe to an argument is usually very telling. By handpicking only the
evidence that supports one’s views, one can support virtually any position, particularly in
front of a non-sophisticated audience.
• Scholarship is not a collection of unalterable truths. Scholars regularly change their views
to reflect new evidence and new ways of looking at old evidence. Pseudo-intellectuals
remain wedded to their conclusions no matter what the evidence shows.
• The most reliable source of information is peer-reviewed scholarly books and articles.
This, of course, does not guarantee absolute reliability, but anything that appears in this
format has gone through several steps of review and questioning by other, anonymous,
experts. If a piece of literature does not appear in this format, one should ask why.
• Repetition of a false claim does not make it true. Many websites simply use information
found elsewhere on the Internet, without checking for accuracy (hello Wikipedia!). But
scholarship does not progress by popular vote, it progresses by arguments that revolve
around the evidence. Moreover, rarely does scholarship progress by giant leaps, it
marches steadily in small, purposeful steps.

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