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1 WRITING COLLEGE PAPERS: SOURCES, STRUCTURE, AND CITATIONS J. WHEELDON LLM, PhD

2 WELCOME This guide is intended to assist you to become a better writer. It is not a substitute for the requirements of any specific course syllabi or the instructions of your professors. Instead it provides some suggestions about how to start the writing process, organize your papers, and cite your sources based on the American Psychological Association (APA) format. While APA is one of the most common citation formats in the social sciences, the guide includes some exceptions for title pages, web cites, and legal cases. In general all papers should be double spaced, written in 12 pt. font, and use headings and subheadings to organize your paper. You should always consult the syllabus for your class, and ask your professor if you have any questions. Key concepts covered in this guide - Identifying an issue to write about - Understanding academic sources - Organizing your paper - Citing sources - Writing strong paragraphs and finding your voice - Bibliographies and references - Last thoughts - A paper template 2

3 IDENTIFYING AN ISSUE One of the most challenging aspects of writing is figuring out how to begin. The first thing you will want to do is consider what your assignment is and what is your professor is expecting. Your paper, first and foremost, must address these issues. Once you have a clear understanding of the expectations of the paper, a useful first step is to brainstorm. One approach is to use concept maps to visually represent different aspects of an issue and help you to draw connections between these aspects. Figure 1 Example of brainstorming considerations Other useful brainstorming approaches can be found here 3

4 ACADEMIC SOURCES Many people do not understand the importance of using academic sources to develop a credible argument. Academic sources are those that have been through a peer review process that ensures a higher standard of scholarship than commonly found elsewhere. Academic Sources include: - Academic journals or quarterlies; - Academic (non-fiction) books or chapters from those books; - Articles (not abstracts or reviews) found using databases such as Criminal Justice Abstracts, ProQuest, EBSCO, JSTOR, or Project Muse. Other non-academic sources may also be useful to help you make your point. While these can be used (if properly cited) they should not be used in place of academic sources. Academic Sources do NOT include: - Non-academic Web pages; - Fiction books (novels, poetry, and drama); - Newspaper or magazine articles (Time, Newsweek, BusinessWeek, U.S. News and World Report); - Encyclopedias, Dictionaries, and other reference works; - Movies and TV shows; - The Bible, the Qur an, or any other sacred/religious text. Many libraries have made finding academic journal articles easy for students by making them available online. Make sure the publication you find is in an academic journal. Remember you will need to read more than you use for an assignment. As you compile academic sources through your research remember to keep track of the author, title, journal, publication data, and page number. You will need this later! 4

5 ORGANIZING YOUR PAPER You should always follow the instructions provided in the syllabus and/or in class. In general, however, academic papers include the following elements: Title Page Title pages should provide your name and student#, the title of your paper, the course, your professor's name and the date. Unless otherwise specified there is no need to include a running head section. This is the first section of your paper Tips for Creating Titles: 1. Scan the titles of published articles from journals in the library database or from your textbook. Try to emulate the tone and formatting (note: not the ideas) of one that you find effective. 2. After you have crafted a title, ask yourself these questions: Does my title establish an academic tone? Does my title introduce my paper in a unique way? If I were thumbing through a journal, would this title interest me enough to read on? Examples of Titles: Our Drugs Are Better Than Yours: Schools and Their Hypocrisy Regarding Drug Use (Taken from the Contemporary Justice Review) Pretty in Punk: Girls' Resistance in a Boys' Subculture (Taken from the Canadian Review of Sociology & Anthropology) Repeat Burglary Victimization: A Tale of Two Theories (Taken from the Journal of Experimental Criminology) Introduction Section Introductions help to frame your paper, allow you to tell your reader why this topic is of interest and outline your approach. Tips for Writing Introductions: 1. Grab your readers attention but avoid sweeping phrases, such as "Throughout history" or "Mankind has always been " These statements may sound formal, but they don't inform the reader about your topic and are much too broad. Keep in mind that you should try to teach your reader something new vague generalizations don't allow you to do that. 2. Define terms but use academic sources, not the dictionary, and try to build onto the definition by adding your own perspective. One aim of academic writing is to move beyond simple definitions and engage in a conversation that addresses complexities using dictionary definitions doesn't allow you to do this. 3. Be sure to present an academic debate and cite the authors you use to present this debate 5

6 Thesis Statement Academic papers provide a clear thesis statement that serves as the focal point of the paper and a roadmap for the reader. The thesis statement usually comes at the end of your introduction, is one-to-two sentences long, always makes a claim, and should be specific. One approach is simply to state: "This paper will argue that " You can craft your thesis statement at any stage of the writing process: before you begin your essay, while you're writing the essay, or after. Often, the strongest thesis statements will take shape after you have compiled evidence and considered the debate. Tips on the thesis statement The thesis statement should take one side of the debate you presented in the introduction; 1. Remember if you can't find arguments that oppose the claim you make in your thesis statement, the thesis is probably weak and should be revised; 2. If you complete your paper but find the one side has more and better arguments than the other, this evidence should be used to support your thesis; 3. The point is to make an argument you will not always personally agree with the argument you may be asked to make. Evidence For Your Thesis These are arguments found in academic sources that support your thesis. Tips on Gathering Evidence: 1. Start by searching journals (accessible through the library database) that your professors have been published in, such as Criminology, Law and Society Review, and Law and Social Inquiry 2. Get in the habit of reading articles from academic sources and making summaries 2 per week on topics you are interested in. This will allow you to quickly compile your papers and not require you to leave it to the last minute. 3. Use the reference page of a published article to lead you to other relevant sources. Counter Evidence Against Your Thesis These are arguments found in academic sources that challenge your thesis and support the other side of the debate you presented in the introduction. See the tips for gathering evidence above. 6

7 Discussion In this section you consider the arguments you have presented that support and challenge your thesis. You want to consider which arguments are more convincing to you and why. Weigh and balance the arguments to discuss what is most compelling to you and why. It may be useful to provide a more personal reflection here based on your own experiences and as a means to justify your personal opinion. Remember as long as you have shown how you got to the argument you present, you should not be penalized. Everyone has the right to their own opinion provided they have done some research, explored the topic, and understand both sides of an argument. Conclusion Conclusions should restate your thesis, remind the reader of your main points and draw your paper to a close. They should mirror without reproducing your introduction. Bibliography Lists ALL sources used in your paper in APA format. See Bibliography section for more information. 7

8 CITING SOURCES Citation is the process of explaining to the reader where they can find the information used in your paper. You must always give credit to the original writers and researchers whose work has been studied. To borrow ideas, phrases, or other material without giving the source is plagiarism. There are two types of plagiarism: a) Using ideas, information, or language without crediting the source; b) Documenting the source, but paraphrasing the language too closely, without using quotation marks to indicate what words or phrases have been borrowed; To avoid plagiarizing, you must document your sources properly. In ADJ this requires in text citations in APA format. This includes citing author and date for summaries (Wilson, 2006) and author, date and page numbers for paraphrases and direct quotes (Johnson, 2009: 45). When in doubt, document! How To Document Document all contributions by others used in your paper. These contributions may include the following: a) A summary of the source b) A paraphrase of a source c) A direct quote from a source d) Citing websites e) Citing statutes and legal cases 8

9 Summarizing a Source Summaries are the most common and best form of citation in academic work. They require that you put into your own words material gathered from other sources. You do not need to cite your own ideas, common knowledge, or information you have seen in multiple sources, unless it is controversial in some way. Summarizing other sources is a good way to demonstrate that you can use academic sources to help you present your thesis or argument in your own words. Summaries require that you provide the author and the date of the original source. Your summary should be in your own words while acknowledging the contribution of others. While in many cases you can cite the work of others at the send of the summarized sentence, you can also mix it up. One approach is to use language such as: According to Wheeldon (2009). As Portillo (2007) argues One approach (Willis, 2008) is to. When summarizing more than one author, separate the citations with a ; such as: Some researchers disagree (Agha, 2007; Rudes, 2006). They argue instead. When a source has two authors use the & to denote and such as: One view (Mastrofski & Willis, 2007) is that Three or more authors should be cited using et al. such as: In one study (Jones et al. 2003), crime rates were found to be Still confused? For more on citations see 9

10 Citing a Paraphrase Close paraphrases are the most common form of plagiarism. This is usually done unintentionally, such as when you change the structure of the sentence or use synonyms. To avoid this, one strategy is to read your source, close your book, and take notes from memory. Then reopen your book and check your notes for accuracy. Consider this passage: No movement in recent memory has captured the imagination of those interested in crime, society and governance in the way that restorative justice has. Its appeal spans continents, peoples, traditions, religions and even political ideologies. As a movement it can count on support from proponents of victim rights, prison abolitionists and those who advocate more local solutions to crime. An enduring strength is the ability for restorative processes to fluidly connect disparate views by transforming competing interests into mutually agreed values. Through this process more detailed deliberation and decisionmaking can occur. In this way, the more general restorative justice project can offer a wide variety of mechanisms to address crime, harm and criminality while providing opportunities for communities to grow together to create a safe place for difficult conversations to occur. Passage from: Page 91 Wheeldon. J (2009) Toward Common Ground: Restorative Justice and its Theoretical Construction(s) Contemporary Justice Review Volume 12, Issue 1 March 2009 (Pages ) Paraphrases must include the author, date and page numbers of the original source but must be in your own words unless you use a quotation mark. Restorative justice programs are growing in popularity around the world because they offer a means for communities to work together to solve issues of common interest, even when those issues are difficult and contentious (Wheeldon, 2009: 91). Restorative justice programs are growing in popularity around the world because they offer a means for communities to work together to solve issues of common interest by providing a safe place for difficult conversations to occur (Wheeldon, 2009: 91). Or 10

11 Citing Direct Quotes Direct quotations should be used sparingly. While useful, you should always try to put the work of others in your own words while citing the source. If you must, there are a number of ways to integrate quotes. Consider this passage: Various factors have undermined the traditional relationship between criminologists and criminal justice policy. These challenges can be divided into factors that are external to criminology and those that are internal to the field. External factors, such as a public shift towards neo-conservatism, graphic representations of crime in the media, and the increased use of capture, monitor and detect technologies (Haggerty, 2004) have altered the way in which policymakers saw criminological expertise as useful. At the same time, internal factors within criminology gave rise to a host of critical criminologies that while advancing and democratizing criminological theory, advocated systemic reform in ways that were often unpalatable to institutions and governments. Together, these challenges have limited the role of the academic in the development and delivery of criminal justice policy. Passage from: Page 313 of Wheeldon, J & Heidt, J Bridging the Gap: A Pragmatic Approach to Understanding Critical Criminologies and Policy Influence. Critical Criminology, Volume 15, Number 4 / December, 2007 (Pages ) One approach is to integrate quotes as smoothly as you can into your own writing and use ellipses ( ) to show where you have condensed the quote. Some have argued that justice policy in the US has become harsher since the 1970s (Garland, 2001). This may be because, according to Wheeldon and Heidt (2007: 313), a variety of factors have limited the role of the academic in the development and delivery of criminal justice policy. If you quote more than four typed lines, set this text of by indenting 10 spaces from the left margin and single-spacing the text. Don t change the right margin and don t use quotation marks. At the same time, internal factors within criminology gave rise to a host of critical criminologies that while advancing and democratizing criminological theory, advocated systemic reform in ways that were often unpalatable to institutions and governments. Together, these challenges have limited the role of the academic in the development and delivery of criminal justice policy (Wheeldon & Heidt, 2007: 313). 11

12 How to Cite Websites There are differing opinions about how best to cite sources from the web. The first consideration is whether the source is worth using at all. Nonacademic websites, news sites, and others not affiliated with a justice agency or University may be unreliable. While you must critically evaluate all sources you use in academic papers, you should be especially careful about websites. The second is whether citing a website is the best approach. Often the use online databases that make it appear as if the information came from the web. Don t be fooled. Most academic journals and books should be cited using in text citations such as (author, date) for summaries or (author, date: pg #) for paraphrases or direct quotes. While citing websites can be tricky, in many cases, useful information is easily available online. For example if you were writing a paper on crime prevention it may be useful to cite the Department of Justice s COPS program. There are two ways to do this. The traditional APA approach is to cite the website in the text. For example: The Department of Justice has a number of programs to involve communities in crime prevention (http://www.cops.usdoj.gov/). These programs include. Another approach used in publications is to keep the narrative flow by using a footnote to provide the website and the date retrieved. This approach acknowledges that online information can change, while providing a marker about when you found this data. For example: The Department of Justice has a number of programs to involve communities in crime prevention. 1 These programs include Footnotes can be inserted in all word processing programs. In Microsoft word, just click insert from the top horizontal menu, find footnote and it will create one. Then simply type in the relevant data including the website and the date retrieved in the space provided (See below). 1 See retrieved on March 9,

13 How to Cite Statutes and Legal Cases The traditional APA approach is to cite federal and state statutes within the text such as: The National Environmental Policy Act (1969) established the Council on Environmental Quality. The Council ensures In of the Virginia Criminal Code, the penalties for discharging firearms within or at building or dwelling house are outlined. These include. For legal cases, a variety for approaches can be used. Check with your professor! The traditional APA format allows you to simply list the case in text like this: The Supreme Court has held in United States v. Lane (1986) that misjoinder under Rule 8(b) is subject to harmless-error analysis. In law courses it is more appropriate to use the bluebook approach. This includes citing the full case in text, with the name of the case in italics like this: In Whitman v. Am. Trucking Ass ns, 531 U.S. 457 (2000) it was held that the EPA has the power to determine whether implementation costs should moderate national air quality standards. A hybrid approach combines these two approaches and allows you to keep the narrative flow by using a footnote to provide the full case citation like this: In Virginia v. Bowman, 2 investigators initially failed to read Bowman his rights before questioning him. 2 See Commonwealth v. Bowman., FE , 2007 Va. Cir. LEXIS 47 (Va. Cir. Ct., Mar. 2, 2007) 13

14 FINDING YOUR VOICE Finding your voice may be the most difficult aspect of writing. It is something all authors (even your Profs!) struggle with. It comes with practice, with reading academic journals, and with writing and revising, rewriting and revising and so on and so forth. In general you need to be able to make an argument in a way that makes sense to you. Although you should always acknowledge the work of others, you can provide evidence for your thesis while discussing counter evidence in an original way. Don t copy a style from someone else, never over-quote and don t rehash old arguments. Try to bring something new to the table! One strategy is to think about how you construct paragraphs. A paragraph consists of several sentences. A paragraph should always have complete, correct, and concise sentences that flow together. The paragraph itself should focus on one subject, theme, or central idea. To be well organized it may be useful to follow the structure listed below: 1. A Topic sentence - introduces an idea in an interesting way; 2. The First main point - proves, backs up, or explains the topic sentence; 3. The Second main point - usually provides a reason for the first point made; 4. The Third main point - can help prove the topic sentence or back up the first or second main point of the paragraph. 5. The Conclusion - sums up the main points or ideas. It usually completes the topic, while providing a transition for your readers to the next paragraph. The best way to improve your writing is to draft something, leave it for a few days and come back to it. Revise and then send to a friend for their feedback. Good writing takes preparation, persistence, and patience. It can be useful to read your paper aloud before you submit it. Try it out! For more on finding your voice see 14

15 BIBLIOGRAPHY All academic papers must include a bibliography or works cited page. These should be single-spaced, in alphabetic order, and provide information on all the sources you have used in your paper including books, journals, statutes, legal cases, websites and anything else. The information you provide should allow your reader to find all the sources you list. One approach is to break your bibliography up using headings: Books and Journals Legal Cases Statues Websites Book bibliography format Author(s) Last name first (Year of publication). Title of work: Capital letter also for subtitle. Location: Publisher. Calfee, R. C., & Valencia, R. R. (1991). APA guide to preparing manuscripts for journal publication. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Journal bibliography format Author(s) Last name first (Year). Title of article. Title of Periodical, volume number(issue number), pages. Harlow, H. F. (1983). Fundamentals for preparing psychology journal articles. Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology, 55, Never include data provided from the database that looks like this: m=penalty&list=hide&searchuri=%2faction%2fdobasicsearch%3fquery %3Ddeath%2Bpenalty%26wc%3Don%26x%3D11%26y%3D5&item=2&ttl =30393&returnArticleService=showArticle 15

16 Legal Cases Commonwealth v. Bowman, FE , 2007 Va. Cir. LEXIS 47 (Va. Cir. Ct., Mar. 2, 2007) Statutes Virginia Criminal Code (VCC) Websites Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Strategies available at and last retrieved on March 9,

17 LAST THOUGHTS Remember your Profs have graded hundreds or thousands of papers. They can tell when a paper has been written the night before. Make drafting, editing, and revising part of your scholarly ritual. Don t forget to ensure your paper is double spaced, written in 12 pt. font, and uses headings and subheadings to organize your paper. Get a friend to read through your work and read through theirs you will both catch things in the other s work that you can use to improve your work and your grade! 1. Complete your first draft early. Take a break from it (1-2 days) and then come back to it; 2. Revise and edit and then send it to a friend you trust. 3. Re-read the assignment as it is listed in the syllabus, review any notes or hints your Prof has provided in class. These might include a requested or required outlines, the number of academic sources required, and any formatting or citation suggestions Take notes to compare with your draft; 4. Get back to your draft and review any comments provided. Treat the thoughts of your friend or colleague with respect. Make any corrections and re-read with your notes close by does your paper do what is required? 5. Read through one more time for voice. Does it sound like you? Read it aloud and make corrections as you go; 6. Good writing is work, but it is required in almost any professional field in criminal justice. Use University assignments to improve your writing. Good luck! 17

18 PAPER TEMPLATE Title of Paper Your name Student number Your Profs name Course Name Date 18

19 INTRODUCTION Paragraph 1 Why is this the topic interesting/what is the problem? Paragraph 2 Is there a useful definition of the issue or topic? Paragraph 3 What is a cited debate on this topic? What are the issues? Don t forget to cite the two sides of the debate THESIS This paper will argue that PICK ONE SIDE OF THE DEBATE YOU PRESENTED ABOVE EVIDENCE Evidence may be organized historically, logically, by theme or another way. Try to focus on the strongest arguments first, one show how arguments are connected and are based on one another. Paragraph 1 First piece of evidence - don t forget citations Paragraph 2 Second piece of evidence - don t forget citations Paragraph 3 Third piece of evidence - don t forget citations COUNTER EVIDENCE Evidence may be organized historically, logically, by theme or another way. They should refute, challenge, or show another side to the evidence you presented above. Paragraph 1 First piece of counter evidence - don t forget citations Paragraph 2 Second piece of counter evidence - don t forget citations If you notice your counter evidence section is stronger than your evidence, you are arguing the wrong side of the issue. Simply re-organize your paper and make your counter-evidence your evidence. Remember: the goal is to make the strongest argument. 19

20 DISCUSSION Paragraph 1 Summarize best arguments from each side, why is one side stronger than the other? Paragraph 2 Do you have personal experiences, reflections, or considerations that can add to your review of this issue? Are they useful to include in a paper? Paragraph 3 What else would you like to know about this issue? What information is missing? CONCLUSION Paragraph 1 Remind us why the topic interesting/what was the problem you wanted to explore? Paragraph 2 Remind us what arguments you found most compelling? Paragraph 3 Answer the so what question. Why does it matter? What does this mean for this topic and where do we go from here? 20

21 References Books and Journals Calfee, R. C., & Valencia, R. R. (1991). APA guide to preparing manuscripts for journal publication. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Harlow, H. F. (1983). Fundamentals for preparing psychology journal articles. Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology, 55, Legal Cases Commonwealth v. Bowman, FE , 2007 Va. Cir. LEXIS 47 (Va. Cir. Ct., Mar. 2, 2007) Statutes Virginia Criminal Code (VCC) Websites Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Strategies available at and last retrieved on March 9, Still confused? See 21

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