The format of the paper

The paper should be approximately 4 double-spaced pages long (between 1400-1700 words). You should use 1-inch margins and 12 size font. All the sources you cite or paraphrase should be credited by putting the last name of the author and the year of publication in parenthesis. Also, at the end of the paper, you should have a Reference List where you write the full reference citation for each source you used (the failure to attribute sources is regarded as plagiarism!).


In-text citations:

Rather than being outward expressions of an “inner mirror of the mind” (Gergen, 2001), narratives are social products that are produced by people in the context of specific social, historical and cultural locations. Therefore, people do not construct narratives “at will" (Ewick & Silbey, 1995; McNay, 2000); narratives are spaces of connection between the individual and the social which are produced by individuals in the ongoing dialogue with broader societal stories (Daiute, 2014).

Reference List:

Daiute, C. (2014). Narrative inquiry: A dynamic approach. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Ewick, P., & Silbey, S. S. (1995). Subversive stories and hegemonic tales: Toward a sociology of narrative, Law & Society Review, 29(2), 197-226.

Gergen, K. J. (2001). Psychological science in a postmodern context. American Psychologist, 56(10), 803-813.

McNay, L. (2000). Gender and agency: Reconfiguring the subject in feminist and social theory. Cambridge, England: Polity.



The structure of the paper

Your paper should consist of an introduction, 2 to 4 sections for your argument, and your conclusions. The sections below describe how to come up with a good question, how to start your paper, how to organize it, and finally, how to structure your argument.

The question:

Start by defining a topic that interests you: something that puzzles you, or something that you would like to explore more extensively in the material for this or previous courses.

Then you should define your question within this broad topic. Start by asking: What does the literature say about this topic? How does what this literature says “fit” a specific case I am interested in? In this way, you identify your research topic, and integrate it within existing knowledge.

In any case, don’t let yourself be constrained by ‘conventional wisdom.’ Be as bold as the depth of your research allows you to be. Avoid mere description. Your aim should be to explain (and not only to describe!).

The Introduction:

The introduction should be no longer than a page. In it, you should (1) state your question and present your thesis; (2) outline the main points of your argument; (3) place your paper in relation to the literature, explaining why the reader should read your essay; (4) and present a very brief ‘roadmap’ of your paper.

1. Your question and thesis should be clearly stated early in the paper, and be clearly related to each other. Your question is the driving force of your research. Your thesis is an answer to that question, and should optimally provide a causal explanation linking a set of variables (linking independent variables X, to your dependent variable Y).

2. An outline of your argument is just that, an outline, and should not take more than a paragraph. Basically, this outline shows the skeleton of the argument with which you sustain your thesis. You may write this outline once your paper has a clear structure, but it helps if you can do it beforehand.

3. If you have done the research necessary to define your question it should not be too difficult to place your paper in relation to the literature. Nor will it be problematic to explain why the reader should care to read your paper. Basically, you should tell the reader: What is to be learned from this paper? Why is it worth learning? How can we assess how valid your findings are?

4. Finally, in the introduction you should include a last paragraph mapping out the paper. ‘In the first section I will * * *.’ ‘In the second section I will* * *.’ ‘In my conclusions * * *.’ You may do this once your paper has a clear structure, but it helps if you can do it beforehand.

The Argument:

In the sections following your introduction, you develop your argument. The structure of an argument may vary considerably. However, there are some elements that must be present:

(1) a clear definition of your ‘dependent variable’; (2) a clear definition of your ‘independent variables’; (3) a clear explanation of how your independent variables affect your dependent variable; and (4) sufficient attention paid to possible counter-arguments, so as to assess the validity of your findings.

What your individual paper explores may not necessarily be characterized as ‘dependent’ or ‘independent’ variables and their relationship. For some research paper topics, this may be the appropriate terminology; for others, this should be understood on a less literal level as what are the phenomena you explore, and what is the nature of their relationship. 


In the conclusions, you should very briefly summarize your findings, identify some implications/extensions of your argument that you could not address in this paper, and generally assess the robustness of your argument. That is to say, you should tell the reader what follows from your argument, and how valid your argument could be to analyze other related cases or topics of investigation. Finally, you should try to address one last question: so what? Basically, you should reiterate, now in greater detail, what was learned in your paper, and why it was worth learning.





Outline for Writing an Essay


Thesis statement written in full states the exact purpose or argument of your paper, reflects the organization of the paragraphs; contains the topic and your viewpoint.




  • Background information. Introduce the topic, attract the reader’s attention, demonstrate that the topic is interesting, significant, relevant, current.
    • Establishes common ground with the reader


  • Identify the issue, or problem behind the topic


  • Consider the counter argument


  • Insert thesis when writing


Each Paragraph


  • Controlling Idea (Topic sentence)
    • The reader should know exactly what this particular paragraph is about


  • Explanation of the main idea of the paragraph


  • Evidence
    • In the form of a concrete example, source information, statistics, expert opinion etc.
    • This helps you prove your point more effectively


  • Analysis
    • Always include analysis with your examples or quotes (i.e. your support)
    • This is part of the very important commentary in every paper
    • Don’t expect the examples to speak for themselves; analyze how this particular piece of evidence / information is relevant and reflects the point of the paragraph. (Make your assumptions, which link you claims and support, clear).
    • Repeat this format for each piece of evidence


  • Final Analysis
    • Aids in transition from this paragraph to the next (this does not introduce the next idea but complete this one)
    • Relate the ideas of this paragraph back to the thesis sentence (the big picture of your paper), rather than pointing directly to the topic sentence of the next paragraph
    • Emphasizes that you are effectively proving your thesis




  • Demonstrates that you have proven your thesis, and that you have given the reader in some way a new, interesting way of looking at the topic
    • Avoid bringing in new information at this stage
    • By referring back to the general idea with which you began your essay, you can end effectively and stylistically by coming full circle and this unifying your whole paper.

Subject General
Due By (Pacific Time) 11/01/2014 06:00 pm
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