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Writing Assignments

Reaction and Research Paper Guidelines
Dr. Dennis Sullivan
Mrs. Jessicah Zehring

I. Reaction Papers:

Purpose: These three short assignments are designed to give you practice in writing academic papers.

Style:

1. All papers must be typed and double-spaced.
2. Each paper must have at least two (2) full pages, plus a title page and bibliograhy page. The maximum number of pages is four (4, not counting the title page and bibliograhy). We will be emphasizing concise writing, so there will be a penalty for going over this limit.
3. The title page should include the title, student name, course number (GBIO 2720) and title, and instructor's name.
4. You must use APA format for in-text citations and for the bibliography. If you do not already have it, you should obtain an APA guide from the Bookstore (one example is listed in the syllabus), or use a Web site on APA from the Internet (some examples are listed on this site).
5. Each term paper should have a minimum of three (3) references, not counting the Bible. At least one of these must come from outside the class reading assignments.
6. You may use as many references as you wish. All sources must be scholarly references.
7. References may include books, journal articles, or online sources. Unlike strictly scientific writing, we will not observe the distinction between “primary” and “secondary” sources.
8. Each reaction paper as a whole should have a good introduction and a good conclusion.
9. Late papers (submitted after the due date) will be penalized 20% per day.

Specific Assignments:

Reaction Paper #1: Write a summary of each of the ethical theories we discussed in class, organized around the three sources of ethical rules from the Feinberg and Feinberg reading. For each theory, cite at least two strengths and two weaknesses.
Reaction Paper #2: Give a breakdown of the biblical reasons for marriage and for sexual intimacy in marriage. This goes beyond our class lectures, so this will require a bit of research on your part. In your discussion, include a discussion of homoerotic sexual intimacy from a scriptural perspective.
Reaction Paper #3: Write an analysis of the ethical issues that arise in artificial reproductive technologies (especially IVF). In your paper, be sure to discuss exttrauterine conception, sanctitiy of life concerns, embryo cryopreservation, selective reduction, and "third-party gametes."

II. End of Semester Term Paper:

Purpose: This final paper will put into practice all that you have learned about writing this semester. It will be a significant part of your final course grade (see course syllabus page).

Objectives:

  • To apply, compare, and contrast different ethical theories in regard to a given issue.
  • To strengthen your ability to reach an ethical position based on sound reasoning and critical thinking.

Topic: Your choice of a topic is critical to a good result. Your instructor must approve your topic choice, submitted by deadline in the course schedule. Your approach to the topic may vary.

Style
1. All papers must be typed and double-spaced.
2. There must be a minimum of eight (8) full pages, but not more than ten (10), not counting title page and references.
3. The title page should include the title, student name, course number (GBIO 2720) and title, and instructor's name.
4. As above, you must use APA format for in-text citations and for the bibliography.
5. Each term paper should have a minimum of eight (8) references, not counting the Bible. At least four of these must come from outside the class reading assignments.
6. All of the eight required sources must be scholarly references, but you may use as many references as you wish.
7. Unlike the reaction papers, feel free to use one or more popular-level references (Newsweek, People, etc.) to add background to your paper, as long as at least eight come from more scholarly sources.
8. Organizational and flow are particularly important in this longer writing assignment. It may be helpful to include sub-headings for various sections of the paper. As before, the paper should have a good introduction and a good conclusion.
9. NOTE: Term papers are due at the conclueion of the semester, on the final exam date. NO late papers will be accepted.

Grading Criteria for all Writing Assignments:

  1. 40% -- Organization, flow, content
    • Is there a logical development of concepts?
    • Is the tone appropriate to the subject?
    • Does the paper read easily, and flow from one idea to the next?
  2. 40% -- Critical thinking, logic, and appropriate use of references
    • Do you give evidence that you really understand the topic?
    • Did you support your assertions with references?
    • Are your conclusions well reasoned and defensible? By the way, this does NOT necessarily mean that your instructor agrees with you, just that you have used sound reasoning.
  3. 20% -- Grammar and syntax
    • At the very least, I will expect spelling to be correct (hint: use a spell-checker, and look up technical terms).
    • Punctuation and grammar should be correct.
    • Keep your sentences short, but vary the length (improves readability). Paragraphs should have one main idea.
    • You should use the correct format (APA) for references.

Some Comments on Grammar and Style for All Writing Projects:

  1. Try to avoid use of the passive voice.
    • A certain amount of passive voice is unavoidable.
    • However, extensive use of passive voice hurts the readability and flow of most writing.
    • Examples:
      • This theory was first introduced in 1948 by Dr. Smith (passive).
      • Dr. Smith first introduced this theory in 1948 (active – better).
  2. You may use the third person (impersonal style) or the first person (your opinion, based on reasoning). Avoid use of the second person (I use second person in this writing guide, which is appropriate here).
  3. Your research paper is not just a survey of an issue or controversy (although it may include this). You must reach a conclusion as to your own position, and defend it.
  4. If you use abbreviations, always define them first.
  5. Use new paragraphs when you change the subject.
    • Be sure to have a good topic sentence for each paragraph.
    • Multiple short paragraphs are preferable to one long one.
  6. Make sure your sentences are complete – PROOFREAD your paper (have a friend or roommate help)!
  7. Always give a reference for any factual information. Short direct quotes are appropriate. The citation should include the page number ONLY if a direct quotation is used. Avoid excessive use of direct quotes (the paper should represent your own work, primarily in your own words).
  8. Plagiarism will result in a grade of zero (this is a clear warning). However, you may ask your classmates to help edit your rough draft. We encourage this sort of collaboration, as long as the work is your own. The Writing Center is also a very helpful resource, but you must concult them early in the process (the Writing Center will not edit your rough draft).

CedarEthics Online

  1. Some truly outstanding papers may be published in our online bioethics journal (CedarEthics Online).
  2. This is by invitation only, and would involve editorial review.
  3. I hope this may give you some incentive to “aim high” in your writing efforts, and may foster ongoing academic work in bioethics.

May the Lord bless you as you work on your papers. I am available to help!

Dr. Sullivan

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Page Last Updated 01/15/2014

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