1. Essays must present a case; make an argument in response to the proposed topic. To do this well, you must weave together elements of experience, facts, citations from texts, logic, and appeals to the readers’ sensibilities, as well as have a coherent thesis statement (see The Political Science Student Writer’s Guide, pp. 32-33). The result must be rhetorically cohesive and convincing. Best essays are usually those by students who have outlined their essay before writing.
2. Essays must be perfect in regards to grammar, punctuation, spelling, typing, and conformity with the style specifications. Everything counts.
3. Essays must be your own. The gravest academic sin is plagiarism; it can and has led to expulsion from the university and revocation of academic degrees. Plagiarism takes many forms. The most common is the paraphrasing of some other scholar’s work. For example, you are writing an essay on Marx’s concept of justice. Suppose you go to the library and take out six books on Marx, find the relevant sections and piece together an essay that paraphrases paragraphs of one or several authors. This is plagiarism even if the works are later cited in some form. More nefarious would be literally copying work from a scholar. Use of another student’s work or a term paper research service is also plagiarism. Moreover, it is unethical to resubmit work done for other classes as original.*
4. Use numbered endnotes. Endnotes are required when citing sources and when crediting another’s argument. You must always cite the first mention of a book or author with a full citation in an endnote. Endnotes are also convenient places to briefly elaborate on topics and to offer the reader interesting pieces of information. All quotations should be cited.
5. Do not use personal pronouns: I, you, we, etc. Do not use contractions: don’t, aren’t, etc. These are not appropriate for scholarly writing. Do not split complex verbs, especially infinitives. Do not end sentences with prepositions.
6. Do not use non-germane materials for color in a scholarly essay. Poetry, dictionary definitions, and quotations from famous figures in history--these all have their place, but it is not in a scholarly essay.
7. Write in a lean, sparse prose. Effective prose is minimalist for the academic writer. Avoid unnecessary adjectives and adverbs. Vary the size and structure of sentences. Paragraphs ought to be several sentences in length and ought to develop a single point.
8. Do not pad. Write what you need to write for the argument and the style you are pursuing- then conclude. Contrary to popular belief, professors do not award grades according to the number of pages.
1. The body of the text should be typed, double- spaced. Margins should be 1.5” on the LEFT, and 1” on the top, bottom, and RIGHT.
2. Notes should be numbered consecutively in the body of the text (with subscript) and placed at the end of the text under the heading notes. Notes should be typed, single-spaced.
Books: Provide author, title, city, publisher, year, translator and editor if appropriate, and pagination.
H. Lee Cheek, Jr., Calhoun and Popular Rule (
Thomas Joseph Metallo,
“The Sword of the Spirit: Pentecostals and Political Power in
Article in Journal: Provide author, title, journal, month and year of publication, and pagination.
H. Lee Cheek, Jr., "A Note on the
Platonic and Aristotelian Critique of Democratic
Article in Book: Provide author, title, journal, month and year of publication, and pagination.
"Egyptian Copts in
Do not use: loc. cit., op. cit., or ibid. Use abbreviated references to texts previously cited: Ediger, p.128
4. The first line of paragraphs should be indented five spaces. Block quotations (to be used rarely) should be indented ten spaces and should be single-spaced.
5. Use white bond. Erasable paper is usually messy. Correct typing errors with correction film or “white out.”
6. Computer users should take advantage of their machines to produce easily readable papers. Turn off right margin justification. Set printers to highest quality printing. Use elite or small pica type-faces. Avoid fancy titles and use bold and italics sparingly.
7. A cover sheet with your name and title of essay is necessary. Staple your paper together in top left corner. Do not use plastic or colored covers; we throw these away. Do not use paper clips.