Assignment: Write a research paper on the novel 1984 (you can refer to the novel in your paper as 1984 or as Nineteen Eighty-Four). See below for choices on how to approach your essay. Since this is a research paper, you will be consulting outside source material to incorporate into your essay (see the section on Research below). Often this will take the form of direct quotations from other authors who are also writing about your topic, although sometimes you may just want to paraphrase the ideas of these authors (see the link to paraphrasing under Plagiarism below). You will need to include at least 5 outside sources into your essay. The paper should be 7-9 pages in length (minimum of 2,500 words), double-spaced, employing standard type-size, font, and margins. You can use MLA-style formatting or any of the standard formatting styles. You should provide a Works Cited page at the end of your paper which lists all of your sources. Also, do not forget to supply an effective title for the final draft of your paper. On the day that the final draft is due, upload your paper to Blackboard.
1) With this approach, you would take one of the themes of the novel and compare it to similar trends occurring today. For example, let’s say you’re interested in the issue of privacy. You would compare the surveillance that exists in the novel to current technology and privacy issues. You could do the same for any of the themes, such as propaganda, censorship, language control, totalitarianism, oligarchical governments, etc.
For a paper like this, there are generally two ways to go about your organization. First method: suppose you are interested in writing about propaganda. You could write a few pages at the beginning of your essay that analyze the theme of propaganda in 1984, and then write the rest of the paper on whatever you find similar about the use of propaganda today. The first part would be much like the writing you have already done this semester: analyzing the theme in the novel, and quoting from the novel to support your statements. You could divide the two sections with something like this: Now that we have looked at the theme of propaganda in 1984, let’s take a look at the issue today. You can word it however you like, of course.
The second way you could organize your paper involves writing simultaneously about both something that is present in the novel and the issue as it exists today. For example, within one paragraph you might refer to something specific in the novel, and then make an immediate comparison to today’s world. In the next paragraph you could do the same, just with a different issue, and so on. It doesn’t have to occur within single paragraphs, either. You might write a full paragraph on how a topic is present in the novel, and follow that paragraph with a paragraph that compares that topic to today.
Either organizational method is usually fine, so just choose which one you are more comfortable with.
Research: For your sources you are allowed to use academic articles, magazine articles, newspaper articles/reviews, documentaries, podcasts, interviews, and so on. Remember, that your idea for a thesis might change several times as you begin the project. Looking at what other people have written and published about your topic will help you to see what issues people find interesting about that topic, and should help you develop your own idea for an approach. Of course, researching is not the most time-efficient activity, so be prepared to sift through material that you will not use. However, as you become more clear about your own idea for a paper, you should be able to narrow your searches and more easily dismiss articles that will be of no use to your own project. The minimum number of outside sources for this assignment is five, but you can use as many as you like. Of course, do not just pick the first five articles that pop up when you start searching and throw quotations from them into your paper. Take the time to find outside sources and quotations from those sources that genuinely and effectively compliment your discussion of your topic.
In general, I advise students to use our JD Williams library search engine for research: http://libraries.olemiss.edu/. Everything that you find on this search engine or any other search engine from our library website will be a credible source. What are some examples of sources that are not credible? Well, if you do a Google search and you find something like John Doe’s fan page on 1984, that’s not considered a proper academic source, because there is no quality control system in place to support John Doe’s statements. John Doe might have a lot of wonderful things to say, but unfortunately he cannot be considered a usable source for your essay. Another example would be a website that might be biased towards a certain topic, so try to stick with sources that seem to be objective. Also, don’t use critical commentary from a website like SparkNotes in your paper. You can obviously use a source like that to help you understand the novel better, but don’t use it as an outside source for your research paper. The best thing to do is just ask me if you are ever concerned if a source you would like to use is credible or not.
Plagiarism: When writing a research paper it is crucial that you understand exactly what constitutes plagiarism. Besides using quotation marks to set off writing that is not your own, you should be careful when paraphrasing other writer’s comments. The following link offers some helpful information about this: Paraphrasing. If you ever have doubts about whether or not you might be plagiarizing, you can always ask me to take a look at your work.
Practical Advise for Submitting Papers: Although the quality of the writing and the writing’s content is what is ultimately most important, teachers do appreciate papers that have all or most of their t’s crossed and i’s dotted. If it has a polished look (correct spelling, punctuation, formatting, etc.) you are always off to a good start, especially since carefulness in proofreading is often associated with hard work and even with carefulness and precision in thinking.