Topic:（Neglect of children’s safety)
Length: 4-5 pages (1200-1500 words)
Format: APA format
Title: Include an informative, interesting, provocative and/or creative title
The purpose of this essay is to inform yourself and to identify what aspects of your topic you will research for the two subsequent essays.
For this paper, you will start by choosing a podcast and a case you are interested in, and identifying a social science aspect of that case. You will explore its background in greater detail. In this sense, you will be laying a foundation for the rest of your papers this quarter.
This, of course, leaves your field of selection fairly wide open, but think about an aspect of the specific crime or case that really interests you. Psychology, sociology, religion, economics, law, forensics, etc are all applicable huge general topics. You will, of course, want to narrow your topic down to something manageable for this paper. For example, you could look at the background of jury selection in the United States. You could also look at something like police questioning procedure. You could look at race relations in regard to profiling – there are an endless amount of complicated, interesting topics to work with here.
In this exploratory essay you will present background information relating to your proposed (narrowed) topic, including relevant history, laws and policies, statistics, past and current problems, stakeholders, organizations, programs, debates, and other related contexts, etc.
Remember that all three of the major essays for this course should generally be on the same topic, though the way that you narrow it and your research question will continue to evolve throughout the quarter (contact me if you want to change your topic altogether after submitting the Background Essay). As far as how this works with the rest of your papers, the Background Essay fits in and leads to the Literature Review and the Final Research Article; a revised version of the Background Essay will become the background section of your Final Research Article.
Introduction: The first paragraph of your essay should present some context for your narrowed topic and introduce the kinds of information and issues that your paper will present. Close your introduction with a single sentence that provides an overview of the main subpoints of information that your paper will cover. (Note that you are including an overview statement rather than a thesis statement since you are not putting forth an argument in this paper.)
Body Paragraphs: You should have at least five body paragraphs, each with a clear topic sentence, that cover the following types of information. Note, however, that you are not being asked to write one paragraph per aspect. For example, you may have more than one paragraph on history, and you discussion of history may include statistics.
historical background (including a relevant current event; may include descriptions of causes and effects, though keep in mind that those may be debated rather than “fact”);
laws or policies;
stakeholders (e.g., communities, organizations, groups, agencies) along with their perspectives and interests;
debates and conflicts (what stakeholders may disagree about and why, but without taking a position in those debates yourself);
additional information can include relevant definitions, current news stories, key figures, programs, etc.
The concluding paragraph should indicate any important information you were not able to find. Also, tell us how you intend to narrow your topic further, that is, what aspects of the topic you will continue to research. Next, propose one research question that you would like to answer about your narrowed topic; it should not be merely informational, opinion based, nor a good/bad, either/or, for/against, pro/con, yes/no, etc. type of question; nor should it predict the future or try to solve a problem (your job will not be to solve a problem in the three papers but to contribute to its analysis). Explain what is significant about your research question, that is, why is it important to understand that aspect in particular? Note that how you’re narrowing your topic and your proposed research question will continue to evolve. Do not use “I” or other forms of first person voice in the three formal essays for this course, including here in the conclusion.
Required Sources: A minimum of five substantial and diverse sources are required for this essay (at least two of which should be no more than two years old). Do not rely on any one source for the majority of your information; demonstrate that you have synthesized information from multiple sources, especially for your historical accounts. Experiment with various subject and keyword search terms and combinations. You should plan to sift through and evaluate numerous sources to finalize the ones that you plan to use. Your five sources must come from the three source types listed below, with at least one source from each type. If you make use of more than five sources, you may include some information from other source types, including organizational websites, documentaries, radio programs, news stories, etc., but be very cautious about the credibility and authority of sources.
Online or print references:
Books or book chapters:
***Note the difference between magazine articles (where the audience is the general public, as in Newsweek, or a particular segments of the public, as in Popular Photography) vs. academic journal articles (where the audience is made of scholars, such as Journal of Popular Culture or Journal of American History). You will focus on scholarly sources for the second major paper, the Literature Review. It can be difficult to distinguish between magazines and academic journals when you do a database search (e.g., on Proquest), but do try to understand the difference. You may end up using an academic journal article for the BE, but you should also make sure you have the other three required source TYPES listed above.
Quotations: You must have at least one quotation from each of your five sources. In addition to the required five quotations, you can also cite them (paraphrase or simply refer to them). If you have more than the minimum required five sources, you must cite all of them in the body of your essay even if you don’t quote from them. Follow APA guidelines to setup each quotation or citation grammatically with a signal phrase or attributive tag, and include a comment or explanation for each major quoted passage Include the page or paragraph numbers in your parenthetical in-text citations. The quoted passages should not be so many or so long that they dominate your own essay. The majority of the writing in the essay should be your own, not the authors’ you quote. You may need to indicate what source you are using more than once in a single paragraph: the reader should always know where you are getting your information from; there should never be confusion about whether you are stating your own ideas and interpretations or presenting someone else’s information or views.
Topic Selection and Narrowing: Before making a final topic selection, be willing to consider and even do preliminary research on more than one topic. Make sure you are focusing on a social science aspect of your topic rather than a scientific aspect. For example, do not attempt to write a paper on the effects of psychotropic drugs on brain chemistry, though you might, for example, explore the policies around mental health and medication for prisoners. Even though you must narrow your topic before getting started so that you are not biting off more than you can chew, you will likely have to provide background info that is more general than just your narrowed topic. For example, if you were writing a paper on mass transit in Seattle, it would be relevant to look at the history of mass transit more broadly along with the experiences of other cities. Your job will be to balance the specific information you provide about your narrowed topic and the broader background and contexts.
Information, Evaluation and Analysis: Of the three major essays, this one requires the least explicit written evaluation and analysis on your part, but it is still not a “data dump,” in which you just throw together all the information you can find. Although there may not be any such thing as objectivity, you should seek to remain neutral. Remember that in this paper you will not be putting forth an argument about your topic, which in fact you will not develop until the Final Research Article. Therefore, do not put forth your opinion, take sides in a controversy, or form judgments about what is right and wrong, good or bad. However, you will still need to exercise and exhibit your own critical thinking, judgment and creativity in narrowing your topic. You will also need to evaluate sources for credibility as you select, organize and present relevant information in a clear, concise and meaningful way.
Voice and Audience: Don’t use “I,” “me,” or other forms of first person in the three major essays for this course. Also don’t use “you” (second person) voice. Use third person speech, but avoid awkward and unnecessary uses of passive voice. Contact me in advance if you wish to include brief, relevant personal experience that you will discuss in the context of other non-personal published research. Never use first person to give your opinion (“I think” or “I believe”) or to narrate the trivial details of your own research experience (“Then I went to the library to find some more sources!”). For the Background Essay and other writing in this class, your audience is NOT the general public. Instead think of your audience as fellow researchers, for example, your fellow students in this class.