Currency and Culture (research paper)
This is the second of two research assignments on currency and
culture. You will probably extend the work you did for your oral
presentation, though, with approval, you may also switch topics.
For this paper, you will select a specific group of
people with a common currency, who shares a set of traits such as
shared beliefs, historical time, governmental structure and/or
geography. You will construct a thesis paper which explores how the
currency affects and is influenced by the people's culture.
This will require you to elaborate on the research you did for your
oral presentation, and, in addition, do more research on the culture
This paper should be based on solid facts drawn from your own
research, so be sure to read Lunsford's discussion of a research paper
in chapters 10-13, including 12g and 13c on citing sources. Choose
the quantity and quality of your sources carefully. If you include
too few good sources, you'll be uninformed; if you choose too many,
you risk writing a paper consisting mostly of other people's ideas
rather than your own ideas. Unless your topic is unusual, your
sources should mostly include published sources, and not merely
unpublished web sources.
You should formulate your paper around a single, interesting, focused
thesis, which you will support using hard evidence. An interesting
thesis usually will connect two ideas that aren't usually connected.
Less commonly, a thesis is interesting simply because it's controversial.
While your thesis should easily be discerned after one reading of your
paper, I ask that you identify your thesis statement with a
Your paper should be about 1200-2100 words (4-7 pages). The research
paper constitutes 35% of your course grade, 10% for the first draft,
25% for the final draft. Both will be graded according to the same
criteria listed below.
Citations and bibligraphy
Any statement you make which isn't common knowledge or which isn't
argued within your paper should include a citation (see Lunsford).
Common knowledge is any knowledge which you might expect a typical
member of your audience (in this case, a classmate) to have.
In your bibliography, in addition to Lunsford's guidelines, add one
sentence to each reference which explains to the reader why
the source is (or isn't) reputable.
Be sure to document (i.e., provide citations for) any evidence you
provide. Beware of making assertions based on hearsay rather than
research. In addition, be sure to document information about your
chosen culture as well as information about their currency.
You will be assessed primarily on your ability to argue a clear and
appropriate thesis that focuses on the relationship between a people
and their currency. For this particular paper, I will use the
following grading guidelines. (These guidelines are taken nearly
verbatim from Lewis Hyde.)
- The F paper is rare. This grade is usually reserved for cases of
plagiarism and excessive lateness. However, exceptional failure to
comply with the terms of an assignment may also result in an F.
- The D paper, in some significant way, doesn't answer the question
that was asked. It lacks a thesis or an argument, or it has a thesis
which is inappropriate to the assignment. A D paper which does answer
the question is filled with mechanical faults (errors in grammar
and/or spelling). Paragraphs do not hold together; ideas do not
develop from sentence to sentence. This paper usually repeats the
same thoughts over and over, perhaps in slightly different language
but often in the same words. It is usually rambling and
directionless. Sometime a D paper makes an argument, but uses no
evidence at all and relies entirely on unsupported personal opinion.
- The C paper has a thesis which is vague and broad, or which
answers only part of the question(s) asked; or it may make a good
argument without first offering a thesis statement (usually in the
introduction). The C paper rarely uses evidence well. Even with a
clear and interesting thesis, a paper with insufficient supporting
evidence is a C paper. Sometimes a C paper has a good deal of
evidence, but it is not part of a coherent argument and the reader can
only make sense of it with great difficulty (if at all); thus, the
evidence is ineffective.
- The B paper makes sense throughout. It has a thesis that is
appropriate, complete and worth arguing. (To be appropriate, the
thesis relates a people's culture to its currency.) The paper does not
digress, and it ends by keeping the promise it made to the reader in
the beginning. The reader always knows where the paper is going and
what the author wants to say. The paper presents interesting ideas,
supported with sound evidence which is both to the point and well
The paper is well organized and although some sentences may not be
elegant, the ideas in them flow well and thought naturally follows on
thought. The paragraphs may be unwieldy now and then, but they are
organized around one main idea. The reader does not have to read a
paragraph two or three times to figure out what the writer is trying
The B paper is, for the most part, mechanically correct. There may
be occasional spelling and grammar errors, but these are few in number
and do not prevent the reader from following the ideas in the paper.
- The A paper is rare. It has all the qualities of a B paper,
but in addition it is lively, well paced, interesting, even exciting.
Everything in it seems to fit the thesis exactly. The paper has
style. Reading this paper, the reader feels a mind at work. The sure
mark of an A paper is that the reader continues to think about it
after reading it, even wanting to tell others about it.
This paper may have a proofreading error or two, even occasional
misspelled words or a minor error in grammar, but these errors are the
consequence of the normal accidents all good writers encounter.
- Write and sign the honor pledge.
- Add one sentence to each bibliography entry assessing its repute.
- Highlight (or underline) your thesis which should usually appear
in the body of your paper.