ECON 2500 is a one-credit "W" course. It fulfills the University's "W" requirement for undergraduate general education and, for economics majors, the writing-in-the-major "W" requirement. Although the course is one credit rather than the more typical three, it still must -- and will -- fulfill the University requirements for a "W" course: a paper of at least 15 pages in length, revised multiple times after feedback from the instructor and others (including, in our case, peer feedback and, if you choose, feedback from the UConn Writing Center). The paper should display a clear and engaging writing style, demonstrate a command of standard written American English, and reflect the standards of research, citation, argument, and data presentation appropriate to an academic audience.
The course involves two meeting components: (1) a large lecture that will meet most (but not all) Mondays from 1:00 to 1:50 in room 115 Arjona and (2) a small breakout section. The main lecture will talk about the process of researching and writing, and will include presentations from the UConn Libraries and the UConn Writing Center. The breakout sessions are where you will do most of the hands-on work. Your section instructor will work with you to develop a topic, will provide feedback along the way, and will ultimately grade your efforts.
You can write on any economics-related topic you like (with the approval of your section instructor). One possibility would be to write about a topic you are studying in another economics course this semester. But if that other economics course requires a paper, you cannot submit the paper to both courses without the explicit consent of both instructors. As always, turning in a paper you wrote for some class in the past would constitute academic misconduct unless explicitly approved by the instructor. If you are at a loss for a topic, consider turning to a book like Frank Bonello and Isobel Lobo, Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Economic Issues (McGraw Hill, 15th edition, 2012), which discusses controversial economic issues. You could then take a position on one of the issues and support your thesis with research. (As we will discuss early in the semester, all good writing revolves around a thesis -- all good writing is an argument.) Your section instructor will also be a valuable resource in picking a topic.
Schedule of assignments
One or two pages, with preliminary thesis and some references.
Draft list of sources
All sources properly formatted.
First draft due
Must include in-text citations and list of references, but may not yet be full length or include all evidence.
Second draft due
Must include in-text citations and list of references. Must be full length and must address comments on first draft.
In-class peer review
Provide comments to and receive comments from another student.
Must include complete bibliography and proper in-text citation..
Note: your assignment is always due at the meeting of the discussion section to which you are assigned.
Your final paper will count for the bulk of your grade -- 55 per cent. But to create proper incentives, we will also grade you on your drafts along the way. Your proposal and draft list of sources will be worth five per cent of your grade each; your first draft 10 per cent; and your second draft 20 per cent. In addition, we will have an in-class peer-review exercise that will count another five per cent of your grade. On the day you turn in your second draft, bring an extra copy (without your name on it) to class. Your section instructor will then scramble the papers, giving you someone else's paper and giving your paper to someone else. You will be graded on the care and thoughtfulness with which you comment on your peer's paper (not on what a peer says about your paper). Here are some tips for a good peer review.
You may revise the drafts and resubmit them for additional comments, but your grade will not change; that is, your grade for each draft will be based on the first submission. We reserve the right to lower your grade in any assignment that you submit after the deadline -- the later the submission, the lower the grade.
How will you be graded? The rubric below gives a more formal answer to that question. But here basically is what we are looking for.
Researching the topic: Did you find and master relevant scholarly reference materials? We will talk in class about what "scholarly" means. Briefly: it means professional books and journal articles. I recommend Google Scholar as a good starting point. We will learn about other sources in class. "Scholarly" specifically excludes the kind of unmonitored websites that turn up in ordinary web searches. "Joe's website about economics" is not a scholarly source, even if Joe is a professor of economics somewhere. You get precisely one Wikipedia citation for the entire paper.
Documentation and Citation: Did you document and cite all sources appropriately? You are responsible for providing proper citation for all direct quotations, paraphrased ideas, and statistical and other information coming from other sources. (Note that you have to cite an idea even if you paraphrase it rather than quote an author directly; and, in general, you ought to paraphrase not quote.) Make sure to include at the end of each paper a list of works cited. You must format properly both your in-text citations and list of works cited. We will talk about this in class. A good resource to start is the UConn Library’s guide on citing sources.
Argument: Is there a central idea, a thesis that you sustain consistently throughout the paper? How clear, sophisticated, and original is the idea? Does it convey a clear knowledge of the material and a recognition of alternative perspectives?
Support: How well do you support your argument? Are your sources clearly and consistently relevant to the thesis? Do you use examples, quotations, statistical and other information skillfully to support the argument(s)?
Organization: Is the paper well-organized? Make sure that your objective is clear at the beginning, that each section has a clear role in meeting the objective, and that ideas flow logically from one paragraph or section to the next.
Paragraphs: Are the paragraphs coherent and well-organized? Is there one clear idea per paragraph, introduced by a clear topic sentence and developed consistently by other well-connected sentences?
Sentences: Are the sentences efficient and well-constructed? Work on constructing clear, concise sentences by avoiding words and phrases that do not fit well. Use vague pronouns and passive voice only when absolutely necessary.
Mechanics: Are the mechanical elements of writing (grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc.) free of errors? Using your word processor to check spelling and grammar before printing the paper can go a long way. But be careful: your word processor does not know if you meant “there” or “their.” In the end, there is no substitute for human proofreading.
The rubric below names and describes some key traits of academic texts. In practice, the five traits are interrelated; still, compared to traditional grades, this sorting by traits can offer a more calibrated measure of strengths and weaknesses. A grade of 3 is average and is equivalent to a score of 80 out of 100 (5=100, 4=90, 3=80, 2=70, 1=60, 0=0). Please note that if an essay receives a 0.0 in any of the 5 categories, it cannot pass.
1 or 2 points
The text grapples with an issue ripe for analysisor debate and responds with insight. The writerclearly understands the assignment, demonstratesa sure grasp of the readings and contextual issuesin play, and makes a perceptive contribution tothe intellectual conversation on the matter.Exceptional essays reveal a creative and criticalmind at work; they move readers from theknownto thenew; they oftentake risks.
The text voices a thoughtfulresponse to the assignment,going beyond standardexpectations. The writermotivates readers to careabout the issues at hand andasserts a focused, relevant, andconvincing claim.
The text respondscompetently to theassignment, making a viableclaim. The writer hassomething at stake andshows some promisinganalytical, interpretive, andrhetorical sensibilities.
The text responds adequatelyto the assignment andadvances a reasonable butunambitious claim. The thesismay be limited, muddy orscattered, but the purposeand relevance of the piece arestill discernable.
The text may beinappropriate to theassignment, reveal scantunderstanding of readings andcontextual issues, orseemadrift. The central claim maybe too obvious or too odd tomotivate the intendedaudience to care about it.
The writer marshals complete and compellingevidence to support claims and amplify keypoints. The text uses primary texts, reliablesecondary sources, relevant data, and tellingdetails as appropriate to the nature and scope ofthe assignment. The writer creates commonground with the audience and anticipatesalternate perspectives and counter-arguments.
The writer selects anddeploysevidence convincingly. Thesupporting details deepen theargument or narrative, drawingin readers. The text buildsmomentum; readers nod inaffirmation as they movethrough the essay.
The writer includes enoughevidence to make acompetent case. The textmoves reasonably wellbetween generalities andparticulars. Whenrequired, sources cited arereliable and appropriate.
The quality and quantity ofsupport is adequate, but attimes runs thin. The essayneeds more flesh on thebones. Some evidencemaybe incomplete, stretched orsuspect.
The text may be either tooskimpy or too bloated.Evidence may be missing,incomplete, inappropriate orunreliable. Claims andsupporting material may bemis-matched.
The arrangement complementsthe purpose anddevelopment of the piece. The writer shepherdsreaders through the text by making theorganization evident, delivering information asneeded, and clearly signaling sources, turns andtransitions. The writer employs structuralconventions appropriate to the assigned genrebut innovates as needed.
The arrangement is thoughtfuland logical. The writer respectsconventions appropriate to thegenre and supplies helpful cuesfor navigating the text (intro,forecasting, transitions, signalphrasesfor sources, etc.).Readers never feel lost.
The structure fits theassignment and purposereasonably well. Thearrangement is typical forthe genre but doesn’t goout of its way to helpreaders.
Structure is discernible butonly marginally effective.Thereader’s needs are not takeninto consideration. The lineof development may wandertoo much; readers may feeltemporarily lost or confused.
The organization ishaphazard, showing adisregard for logic orconvention. The arrangementreveals scant considerationfor the needs of readers.
The prose strikes readers as effective andeloquent. Sentence structures are complex andvaried; the rhythm is paced; transitions are fluid;the sounds resonate. The writer adopts anaudience-appropriate stancewhile projecting adistinctive voice.
The prose is controlled andeconomical, featuringpurposeful transitions andsome vibrant passages. Thewriter shows versatility.
The prose is generallycontrolled. Sentences andparagraphs cohere; thetransitions are serviceable;the diction is audienceappropriate.
The prose is readable but maybe flat, repetitive, choppy,wordy, or bureaucratic.Some passages may strike theaudience as irksome.
The style alienates the writerfrom the audience. Sentencesmay be sotangled that theyobscure understanding.
The writer seamlessly employs effective strategiesfor grammar, syntax, usage, word choice, andattribution of sources. The editing is calibrated tothe intended audience and complements thepurpose, meaning and style of the text.
Surface features andconventions meet audienceexpectations. Text is editedfairly cleanly but may include afew minor lapses, typos,awkward patches, orinconsistencies.
Text is reasonably welledited but featuressomedistracting errors (oddphrasing, flawedpunctuation, faultyparallelism, danglingmodifiers, etc.).
Text is readable but reveals afew serious problems(fragments, run-ons, lack ofsubject-verb agreement, etc.)or frequent minor errors.Non-standard sourcedocumentation may prevail.
More than 3 or 4 seriousproblems--or a constellationof minor errors--emerge oneach page. Surface problemsimpede comprehension orfrustrate readers. Sourceattribution may be missing orseriously flawed.
Modified slightly from the rubric of Prof. Tom Deans, Director of the UConn Writing Center, version of 4/2006
Course Grading Summary
Draft list of sources
Writing and Citation Resources.
I have asked the Co-op to order this book:.
Economical Writing by Deirdre McCloskey Waveland Press, 2nd edition, 1999.
The UConn student conduct code defines plagiarism as “presenting as one's own the ideas or words of another for academic evaluation.” Please read these carefully. If you're not sure how to recognize and avoid plagiarism,click here or here.
I take plagiarism seriously. If you have questions or concerns, please ask me.