Writing Assignments

Fall 2020 Writing Assignments


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The writing assignments consist of a series of three short essays papers designed to summarize and analyze writings on the semester’s material in order to attain three objectives.  First, reading supplemental materials will introduce you to additional perspectives and viewpoints not given in the lecture or the assigned readings.  Second, writing about this material will force you to think and evaluate the materials.  Third, the series of essays gives a chance to develop and improve writing skills which are especially important in the professional world.

The three writing assignments consist of three short essays looking at the supplementary articles on the syllabus.  (Some of the articles on the syllabus are quite short, so if you choose an article of less than a dozen pages, you should write on two different articles.)  Alternatively, you may also look find your own essay that covers similar material, but doing so requires instructor approval of the selected essay at least a week before the assignment is due.  Before choosing the specific article you will write on, look at several.

To find the articles in the syllabus, take full advantage of the search options available with the Pollack Library.  The OneSearch option on the library home page is a good place to start, but I also find that it can be overwhelming in terms of how much material it can generate.  You may also simply search for the journal in which the article was published.  I often use EconLit or Google Scholar to find materials.  (Access them through the databases tab on the library homepage) All of the search engines and most of the articles will be available if you have properly logged into the Pollak Library as a CSUF student.  (All articles on the syllabus were electronically available when placed on the syllabus, but subscriptions may have changed.)

The essaysyou write will be fairly short.  Specifically, they are laid out are laid out in the following fashion. The first paragraph should identify the author and title of the article that you are writing about.  It should also identify the context of the article and specify the purpose of the article.  A question to consider is why the author(s) wrote this essay.

The second paragraph or so should provide a brief summary of the article.  You want to convey enough information so the reader understands what the article says without going through all of the minute details.  One paragraph is typically not quite enough, but going beyond three paragraphs in this section often indicates too much detail.  This discussion should be based upon your understanding of the original article and expressed in your own words.  Do not copy or paraphrase the abstract of the article:  it will not work well in this assignment.  There should not be many[1] quotations.  In writing this summary, some questions you may want to answer include the following. What is the methodology of the paper?  What are the main issues?  What are the findings?

The third or next paragraph should wrap up your essay with a critique or analysis of the article.  This section of the assignment will require some thought and contemplation, so take some time to think about the paper being discussed. While analyzing or critiquing the article requires some thought, it doesn’t necessarily have to be particularly profound.  In the past, this section has been the weakest element of the submitted assignmentsbecause students have either been very superficial or pleaded ignorance.  I don’t expect you to break new ground in thought and analysis (though you may), but I do expect some degree of critical analysis.   To get you started, you might want to consider the following questions as you read the paper: How does it differ from what others have said?  What issue is missing or overlooked?  Is the reasoning sound?  Is the article plausible?  How could it be expanded?  Use other articles on the reading list to help you out.

Turning essays in

The papers should be typewritten in 12 point font (I like Times New Roman) and double spaced with one inch margins.  Again, you will want to use your own words and avoid using quotes.    Extensive paraphrasing or quoting will probably lead to a longer paper.  I typically expect between three and sixparagraphs in the papers with four or five paragraphs often receiving a higher score.  Some of you may want to expand to an additional paragraph.  However, if you find yourself going much longer, you are probably going into too much detail for this type of assignment.

In turning in the assignment, I will want an electronic equivalent of asimply stapled paper copy handed in to me.  Put your name and identify the assignment on the cover sheet and start text on next page.  A bibliographic entry in APA (or other standard) format can be placed at the end of the text section or separately on the last page.


Files may be submitted as a Word document, PDF text file, RTF file, or .TXT.  Historically, I have had some issues with Apple based files though the new Canvas system may handle them better than previous systems.  Still, if you use Apple’s word processing program, please consider converting your file before submitting it.  In some cases, the electronic versions may be submitted to Turnitin.com for analysis.

Essays are due on September 9, October 7, and November 18.  Ideally, they would be submitted by the formal beginning of class, but they will be accepted until the end of the day.  I will even give a grace period into the next day, so if you miss the deadline by two minutes you will still be safe.  However, after the unspecified grace period, essays are late.  Late essays are accepted, but each day will result in a five point per day deduction.

Selecting materials

For the assignment due on September 9, you may choose from the supplemental readings from the beginning of the semester through September 21.   For the assignment due on October 7, you may choose any of the supplemental readings from the period September 28 through October 19. For the paper due on November 18, you may choose the readings from October 26 through the end of the semester.

As mentioned above, if you have other readings you wish to discuss instead of the syllabus based options listed, I will consider them.  However, you must obtain approval of the alternative material one week prior to the due date for the assignment.

Accessing materials

Most materials should be available electronically through the library though some books may still be in paper form.As mentioned above, The OneSearch option on the library home page is a good place to start, especially if you are at one of two extremes: you know exactly what you need or you have no idea of where to begin and need to start someplace.  Personally, I like to narrow my options using one of the subject databases like EconLit or Google Scholar.  Choose a database and then begin to enter some key terms.  Experiment with terms and see how results change.  Regardless of which option you use to access the materials, make sure that you have logged into the CSUF system so that you do not get charged to access the article(s)

Again, the purpose of the paper is to for you to analyze and summarize the articles.  I will be looking for what you bring to the paper and not how well you can quote, copy, or paraphrase someone else’s work.  Putting it in your own words is important.  Copying, cut and paste composition, and not properly attributing references are unacceptable. Ifyou havedoubts orquestions overwhat constitutes an acceptablepractice, then either ask meand/orgoto this website (from Office of Student Conduct)or this website (from plagiarism.org).


[1] I really want you to use your own words in these essays and don’t think there should be any quotes.  However, I realize that on occasion folks use them.  One short quote is unlikely to affect your grade, especially if you are trying to make a point about specific wording.  However, it may elicit a snarky comment.  Multiple use of quotes is likely to result in snarky comments and a negative effect on your grade.  If you find yourself needing to use multiple quotes, come to the office hours and let’s discuss alternatives.

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