280: Research Paper Version 1 (RPv1)
Preparing Your Research Paper
The following instructions must be followed faithfully to receive full credit for your research paper:
Nature of the research paper: Your research paper must, as its name implies, be based on your own library research on the research question you have chosen. It must go much deeper into this question than we have gone or will go in the course lecture-discussions (for guidance on what we will cover during the remainder of the course, see the Slides page from last year). It must rely on your library research and not on any of the materials on the course slides or in this semester's assigned readings (Two or less references from the assigned readings is allowed, however).
Audience: In writing your essay, assume that your audience is a student in Physics 280 who is familiar with the material that has been presented in the lecture-discussions and the material in the assigned readings. You do not need to define terms that have been defined in previous essays or provide citations for these terms. You must define other terms and provide citations for these definitions, but you do not need to place any standard definitions in quotes.
Originality: Most of the text in your research paper must be your own words written specifically for this assignment. Using text you have prepared for a previous or current writing assignment in this or any other course is not permissible, even if the text is placed in quotation marks or paraphrased and properly cited, for three reasons. First, Physics/Global Studies 280 is a writing course and the research paper is supposed to be an exercise in original writing. Second, students are not authorities on any of the relevant subjects and therefore are not appropriate primary or secondary sources for the research paper. Third, doing so is a violation of Article 1, Part 4 of the University of Illinois Student Code.
Technology-policy balance: As explained on the research paper proposal Details page, your research paper should address a question that involves both technology and policy issues in an important way. The balance need not be 50%-50%, but both types of issues must be important and discussed. When addressing some questions, it may be natural to discuss the technological and policy issues separately, with one or more sections devoted to each. For other questions, it may be more natural to interweave the discussion of technology and policy. Follow whichever approach works best for your research question.
Cover page: Your research paper must have a cover page preceding the body of the paper. The cover page should not be numbered. It must include the following three elements:
Definition of the body: The body of your research paper is defined as all the pages in the paper except the cover page, the references page, and any pages at the end of your paper used to display figures or tables.
Length: The body of your research paper must be 5 or 6 pages long. If it is less than 5 pages or more than 6 pages long when printed, your score will be substantially reduced from what it would have been had your body been the specified length.
Page numbering: All pages in the body must be numbered. The first page of the body should be page 1.
Sections: You should divide the body of your paper into several sections, using boldface headings. Use as many sections as you need, but note that dividing the body into more than five sections is probably excessive for a six-page paper. Avoid sections that are only one or two paragraphs in length.
Introduction: The first section in the body of your paper should be an introduction to the paper. It should begin at the top of the first page following the cover page, which should be numbered page 1. The introduction should not be longer than 1.5 pages. Its purpose is to interest and engage the reader. You may provide context (e.g., Iran has just tested a nuclear weapon) or spell out your approach to the research question you are addressing. Do not list the sections in your paper or summarize your conclusions or recommendations in the introduction; this paper is too short for that to be appropriate.
Conclusions and Recommendations: The final section of the body must present your conclusions and recommend some policy or action. It should not introduce any new facts or arguments and therefore should not need to include any citations. Confine your conclusions to single paragraph, i.e., do not turn this section into a summary section! You must make some definite recommendations in this section. Some explanation of your recommendations is appropriate, but do not make this section the longest section in your paper! Use active voice.
References: Place all your references in a separate references section. The references section is not a bibliography; every reference must be cited in the body of your paper.
Supporting citations: Just as in your previous required essays, all statements or numbers that are not common knowledge should be supported by a citation. Every citation must point to a reference in the references section.
In deciding what is common knowledge, consider what is known by a typical University of Illinois undergraduate who has not previously taken and is not currently taking Physics/Global Studies 280. All other statements must be supported by citations of works in your list of references (for details, see Article 1, Part 4 of the Student Code). If in doubt, include a citation.
If you wish to cite a book to support a fact, argument, or quotation, the citation must include the number or numbers of the specific page(s) on which the fact, argument, or quotation appears. For example, suppose that you wish to cite a statement on page 37 of the book Teller's War, by William Broad. This statement could be supported in the text by the citation [1, p. 37] and in the references section by the entry
 William Broad, Teller's War (Touchstone Books, 1993)
Footnotes and endnotes: Do not use footnotes (consecutively numbered textual comments placed at the bottom of the page to which they refer) or endnotes (consecutively numbered textual comments placed at the end of the paper). If you wish to include information that is parenthetical, simply place it in parenthesis in the text.
Figures and Tables: You may include up to two (but no more than two) figures or tables in your paper, unless you have explicit permission from the TA who will be grading your research paper, and then only if they are essential for understanding the text. Be sure to refer to any figures or tables in the body of your paper (e.g., "The decrease in weapons is shown graphically in Figure 1.")
If you have figures or tables in your paper, they must occupy no more than two pages and be placed at the very end of your paper, after your references page.
Each figure must be numbered and have an explanatory caption and each table must be numbered and have a title and a brief note explaining what is listed in the table. If any figures or tables are taken from another source, that source must be properly cited.
Formatting: For information on formatting your research paper, see the Student Handbook section Formatting Your Writing Assignments.
Summary of Research Paper Page Count
Bindings: There are various types of binders that provide a "professional" look to documents, but they are very inconvenient for grading. Do not use them. Use a single staple in the upper left-hand corner.
Submission: For information on submitting your research paper, see the Student Handbook section Submitting Your Writing Assignments.