UCSB Hist 4C, Spring 2000 Prof. Marcuse
Western Civilization, 1715-present May 16, 2000



The main purpose of the term paper is to help you develop skills in historical interpretation and argumentation. Additionally, you will practice gathering together the evidence that you interpret and use in your argument (research).
In the revised second draft of the term paper you will also be evaluated on the basis of your writing.

Preparation / Steps

Assignments four and five. In writing assignment 4 you were to describe two or three issues that you consider especially important, and explain why they are important. In assignment 5 you were to select one of those issues and list the arguments on both sides, paying special attention to the historical dimension of the issue.

For example, if you chose gun control in the US as the issue, you might list:

Many people are accidentally killed by guns.
Crimes committed with guns are more violent, and gun control would reduce the amount of violence.
Convicted criminals have easy access to guns and use them to commit new crimes.
We have a constitutional right to bear arms (2nd amendment).
Guns are necessary for people to protect themselves against violence.
Term paper step 1: research. For the term paper, you would need to get additional information to develop these statements into arguments by adding specific evidence. In this case, it might be statistical (relative numbers and proportions of accidents, violent crimes with guns, etc.) or anecdotal (examples of cases that illustrate the role of guns and the potential effects of gun control).

An internet search (on google.com, for instance, with the words gun control) quickly brings up many relevant sites that give additional arguments and offer statistics to back up these points. A search of the magazine and journal articles database of our library's melvyl catalog (with gun control as a subject term) brings up hundreds of articles, many of them available full text on line. In the very first ones you can find all of the information you need. Be sure to make a note of the web site (and the organization sponsoring it) where you found each piece of evidence. (see citations, below)

Alternatively, a search for books on melvyl (subject gun control, at UCSB) yields 29 titles, most of them with the HV7436 call numbers. You could go there and get one; for example Marjolijn Bijlefeld (ed.), The Gun Control Debate: A Documentary History (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1997) looks promising.

Step 2: organization. Assemble your evidence with the pro and contra arguments, and turn each one into a paragraph of discussion in which you interpret the evidence, showing how it relates to the argument. Organize your paragraphs in a sensible way, so that there is some connection between them. In this example, the arguments that guns increase violence and that guns protect against violence could follow one another. Alternatively, all the pros might be listed first, then the contras.
Note that within your individual paragraphs, attention to counterarguments is appropriate. For instance, in the "constitutional right" argument, one could describe how that right was defined in a time when there was no standing army and little organized police, and when guns were much more difficult to obtain and use, and much less powerful.

Step 3 introduction and conclusion: Add an introduction to your paper, in which you establish why that issue is important and state as a thesis what your overall argument is. You would reinforce this with a summary statement at the end. Although a thesis statement is important for the first submission of the term paper, a well-developed introduction is not.


As in the essay question on the exams, grading of the first submission will be based on the following elements:
a. a thesis statement
b. arguments supporting that thesis
c. use of specific cases or examples in the argument to support the thesis
d. whether counterarguments and counterevidence are addressed.
Any two of these will earn a "C", any three a "B". For an "A", all four elements need to be present.
The + / - will be determined by how well these elements fit together, and how well you have cited your sources.

Final version. For the revised version of the paper, due in your last section meeting, proofreading, grammar, and style will be considered as well.
The draft version must be resubmitted with the final version in order to receive credit.


These do not have to be "perfect" according to a style guide, but they should contain enough information to identify and trace your sources. The following are recommended formats:

author, (company or institutional affiliation), "title of page," <URL>, date created, date last modified; date accessed. Example:
Harold Marcuse (History Dept., Univ. of California), "Hist. 4c links page," <http://www.history.ucsb.edu/classes/s00/hist4c/4clinks.htm>, created Apr. 17, 2000; accessed May 15, 2000.
author's name, title of book in italics (Place of publication: publisher, year), pages.
(see the example given in the "gun control" section, above)

author's name, "article title," name of journal or newspaper, ([publisher], date of issue).
(example of a journal article, taken from the melvyl search:)
Hugh LaFollette, "Gun Control," Ethics (University of Chicago Press, Jan, 2000), 263ff (accessed on-line).
(example of a news magazine article without an author, also found on melvyl:)
"Caught in the Gun Culture: Clinton on his and Al Gore's battle with the NRA," Newsweek (May 15, 2000), 29f.
Plagiarism is …

presenting someone else's work as your own, or deliberately failing to credit or attribute the work of others on whom you draw (including materials found on the web).

It is a serious academic offense, punishable by dismissal from the university. It hurts the one who commits it most of all, by cheating them out of an education.

All offenses will be reported to the Dean of Students for disciplinary action.
For details see: <http://charm.physics.ucsb.edu/people/hnn/conduct/acad_cond.html>