Paper 1

Our first major paper (minimum 1,600 words, submitted via email) asks you to put your thinking about some aspect of your identity into conversation with other writers who also take up this topic. Your paper should incorporate at least three sources from your Annotated Bibliography (at least one public source and at least one academic source) and should thus include APA in-text citations and a References page. In terms of the main goals of the paper, we want to reach a better understanding of what others have said about this aspect of identity, and we want to put our own thinking into conversation with theirs in order to generate new ideas and insights.

In terms of organization and formatting, your work should follow the expectations for an APA paper (see The Little Seagull Handbook for more information):

  • Your paper should start with a title page (p. 204).
  • The second page of your paper should be an abstract page (p. 205).
  • Although this is not required, it is common for APA papers to be divided into different sections. You are welcome to divide your paper into different sections as you see fit.
  • At the end of your paper, you should include a References page with full APA citations for all sources cited in your paper (p. 207).

The following sections outline potential approaches you can take to the paper. You are welcome to pick whichever approach works best for you, and you can potentially combine different approaches.

Analysis Paper
One option for Paper 1 involves continuing with the analysis work from our short assignments. For this approach, the main substance of your paper would come from analyzing your sources as you did in the Public and Academic Analysis assignments, and you are welcome to draw on that work here. You would not need to analyze all the sources that you found for your Annotated Bibliography, but you would need to include at least three of them. You do not necessarily need to address each of your sources in great detail; you are welcome to focus on the aspects of these sources you find most relevant. It could also work to develop a thorough analysis of one or two sources while using the other sources as points of comparison. In addition to those analysis prompts from the Public and Academic Analysis papers, you should also address some combination of the following:

  • How would you compare these sources in terms of their understanding of and approach to this aspect of identity? How are they similar and different? Where do they agree and disagree? To what extent do they share a similar orientation? How are they similar or different in terms of their methods and types of evidence? In terms of how they use sources and citations? In terms of structure and style?
  • Which source(s) do you find most helpful in coming to terms with this aspect of identity? Least helpful? How so?
  • How does the public conversation compare to the academic conversation on the topic? How do academics look at this topic in different ways than the general public or mainstream media? How does the academic conversation help us look at things in a new or different way? Does it challenge any assumptions or stereotypes in our society?
  • What do you want to add to the conversation? How does your understanding of this aspect of identity compare to what others have said? What has been left out of the conversation? What could be emphasized or developed further?

Through your work, you should arrive at a larger argument, conclusion, or insight about this aspect of identity and the conversation around it. Your argument should be supported by and emerge out of your analysis and comparison of the sources, and it should add to our thinking about the conversation, helping us see things in a new way.

Argument Paper
For this approach, your main focus would be developing an argument about your topic. Your goal throughout the paper would be articulating and supporting your argument. You would still draw on your sources, but you would be using them to support and develop your own thinking. You could potentially analyze your sources in greater detail, but you would be doing this to show their uses and limits, highlighting where you agree and disagree with them. This approach does not require that you offer a substantial analysis of your sources. Your work should address some combination of the following prompts and questions (whether you answer these questions directly in your paper, we should get a sense for the answers):

  • What is your argument? Why is your argument important? What does it add to the conversation? How does it build on or differ from other arguments from your research?
  • How do you support your argument through reasoning and evidence? Why should we go along with your thinking?
  • How do your sources help you support your argument? What do you agree or disagree with from the sources, and why?

Research Paper
This approach to the paper would potentially be similar to the Analysis or Argument approaches, but it would put more emphasis on informing us about the topic and presenting the findings from your research. You would still need to analyze the broader conversation, to give us a sense for the main perspectives and issues around the topic, but you would not necessarily need to analyze your sources in depth. Instead, you could make reference to your sources as needed to provide examples and help explain the main points you want to make about the topic. You could potentially still make an argument, but you would not necessarily focus on developing and supporting your argument throughout the paper. Instead, you could make an argument at the end of the paper after having analyzed the conversation around the topic.

Reflection Paper
This approach would allow you to reflect on your own identity. It would likely involve drawing on your personal experience and thinking to offer a perspective on your topic. You would still draw on your sources, but you would do so to put your experience in context or to help you comment on it and analyze it further. The main emphasis would be on your thoughts and experiences, and the sources would be there to help you develop your thinking. You should aim to offer a larger perspective or insight on your topic that adds to our understanding of it.