Comments on Research Paper Drafts

American Roots FYS


Please come to my office (Barbelin 229) in order to pick up and discuss your draft.  My hours are Thursday 1-2:30, Tuesday 3-4:30, and Wednesday 11-12.  IÕm available other times, so email me to set up an appointment if these hours donÕt work.


1.     Plagiarism.  Plagiarism is unacceptable and will result in a grade of zero for the paper and the filing of an Academic Honesty Violation Report.  This includes copying directly from sources without citation.  It also includes taking another authorÕs words, making minor changes, and passing them off as your own.  You will be submitting the final paper online through, which is able to detect many instances of plagiarism.

2.     Using your sources.  One of the chief intents of the paper is for you to demonstrate that you can use primary and secondary sources effectively.  Some of your sources should be scholarly, printed sources—books or academic journal articles.  You should also use some primary sources, such as songs, artists web sites, interviews, etc.  Do not put a source in your bibliography unless you actually reference it in your paper.

3.     Footnotes.  Chicago style uses footnotes for citations.  See this page for details.

4.     Things to add in addition to your text.

a.     Lyrics.  ItÕs OK to embed song lyrics in your paper, as long as

                                      i.     The lyrics are an integral part of the paper—that is, you use them to make a point.  DonÕt paste repeated lyrics into the paper unless thatÕs important.

                                    ii.     You cite them correctly by artistÕs name, song title, album title, record company, and album number (or by source, in the case of a traditional song).

b.     Images.  The same criteria apply to images as to lyrics—include them only to make a point (for example, if youÕre discussing an artistÕs stage persona and want to comment on dress) and cite them correctly.  Images that might be helpful include photos of artists, facsimiles of original sheet music, album artwork, etc.

c.     Quotes from primary or secondary sources.  Short quotes—especially from primary sources—are great as long as they illustrate a point and are cited correctly.  Use longer quotes sparingly.

5.     Length.  If you incorporate a thorough discussion of three artists and three songs (or three versions of the same song) plus historical background, introduction, and conclusion, you should have around twenty pages, although a strong writer could probably do all these things in fewer pages.  However, I wonÕt be counting pages: quality is more important than length.

6.     Visiting the Writing Center.  I urge you to make an appointment at the SJU Writing Center to get help on writing.  Follow the link under ÒWriting helpÓ on the class page.

7.     Assignment for next Tuesday.  Please polish your introduction and email it to me by Tuesday.  We will look at peopleÕs intros as a class on Thursday.  In addition, please burn your three songs to a disc and give it to me in class on Tuesday.