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The fight for independence from Great Britain for Canada was much different than that of the United States of America.

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The fight for independence from Great Britain for Canada was much different than that of the United States of America.

Research Paper Guidelines and Requirements                            

A key component of this course is writing two research papers. This will give you the opportunity to apply what you are learning about American Government to your own life. Each paper will make up 9% of your grade. The following pages serve as guidelines in helping you construct each of your papers for this course. Pay special attention to the paper requirements, sample, and evaluation sections. The tips are important because they will explain how to go about writing a successful paper.


For this class you will be given sets of pre-selected topics. For the Part 1 Research Paper, you will choose from topics specifically geared to the information you will cover in Part 1 of the course. For the Part 2 Research Paper, you will choose one of the topics that are specifically geared to the information you will cover in Part 2 of the course.

Part 1 Research Paper Topics

Here are 5 topics you can choose from for your Part 1 Research Paper (select one)

  1. The fight for independence from Great Britain for Canada was much different than that of the United States of America. Compare and contrast the fight for independence of the Canadian and United States citizens by describing the measures that each group took, the relationship with Britain in the years after independence, and the extent of British involvement in the newly created countries. End your paper with a comparison of the governments that each country created when it did achieve independence.
  2. Amending the U.S. Constitution is not an easy task. Some amendments have been successfully added while others have not. Outline the procedures for amending the U.S. Constitution and explain the reasons why the founding fathers established these procedures. Then, choose one of the amendments that was successful and explain its significance, including the path it took to be added. Then, choose a proposed amendment that was NOT successful, such as the Equal Rights Amendment, and explain why it could not be successfully passed as an amendment.
  3. In Lesson 2 of this course, you will be learning about the legislative branch of the federal government. You will learn that each state has two U.S. Senators and a number of U.S. Representatives determined by the population figures of the state. In this paper, choose one state Senator or Representative from the United States and profile this individual. In your profile, you must cover the following topics:
  • Biographical information: Information regarding this person’s life. Where were they born? How old were they when elected to office? What was their educational background? You should answer these questions and expand on them. Also, think of related questions and respond to them as well.
  • Political information: What political party does this person belong to? What congressional committees do they serve on? What bills have they helped bring before Congress? You should thoroughly answer these questions, as well as other related questions of your own.
  • Viewpoint/Beliefs: You should pick two or three major issues in the news and find out this person’s stand. For instance, what is this person’s stand on U.S. foreign policy issues? Abortion? Tax cuts? You should think about these issues, as well as others you come up with on your own. Respond to each issue in detail.
  1. While the President of the United States is limited to two terms in office, members of the Congress do not have term limits. In this paper, explain the arguments of those who support term limits on these offices and those who do not. Then end your paper with a discussion of your opinion on the issue providing at least two relevant points that support your position.
  2. Pork barrel spending is one criticism that today’s Congressmen face. Define pork barrel spending, identify several examples not already discussed in your textbook, and explain how these projects sometimes go against the promotion of projects. Be sure to clearly explain your opinion with reasonable and logical points to support it.


Selecting Your Topic

  • Pick an aspect of the topic that interests you—It is much easier to write a good paper if you enjoy what you are writing about. Choose something that you would like to learn more about, not something you are already familiar with. You must use new research and cite it accordingly.
  • Be flexible—As you start your research, you might find a new aspect of your topic that interests you. You may change your focus if you have enough time to develop a new one satisfactorily.
  • The more narrow the focus the better—If you focus on a specific, narrow aspect of the topic, it will be easier to research and will result in a more interesting paper.


Researching Your Topic

After you have decided on a topic, you are ready to start your research. Leave yourself plenty of time to browse through resources at your local library to get familiar with information on your topic. As you find books, magazine articles, or websites dealing with your topic, think about narrowing it down or even changing it to meet your focus and intentions.

  • Must use a minimum of three to or more resources.
  • Must use at least one print source other than the textbook (books, magazines, encyclopedias, journals, etc.).
  • Each paper must be at least 3 to 4 pages in length (double-spaced).
  • Use the library—The Internet is a fantastic research tool, but you should not rely on it alone. The library is much more organized, and you can find better material much quicker there. Once you have a couple of good print sources, you can always do additional Internet research from any computer.
  • Take notes as you go—Whether on the Internet, in the library, or looking through a book, always have a pen and paper handy. That way, you can jot down the information and source to use later. Follow these guidelines:
  • Use note cards —For each source (book, website, etc.) create a note card. Label it is using MLA format for a bibliography entry and write down any potentially useful information on the card. It is best to write the information in your own words, so you are never tempted to use the words of the sources. Be sure to include page numbers for later reference and parenthetical citations. Good note cards will give you all of the information you need at a glance. See “Give Credit to Your Sources” section for details on bibliography entries and parenthetical citations.
  • Be critical of your source —Not everything you find will be a good source. It is especially important to be sure Internet sources are reliable. If you are not sure about a source, ask your teacher.
  • Start putting the pieces together —Even though you are not writing yet, think about how the pieces of information you are gathering relate to each other. You might even start constructing a rough outline during the research process. Sometimes you will find some missing pieces that will require you to do a little more research to make your paper complete. Save time for this.

Writing Your Paper


Research papers should be constructed using a word processing program such as Microsoft Word, Microsoft Works, or Word Pad. Macintosh users may also use the Macintosh version of Microsoft Word. If you do not have one of these word processing programs, you can use any word processor, a typewriter, or you can access a word processing program at your local library.

  • Length —Each paper must be at least 3 to 4 pages in length (double-spaced) in 12-point Times New Roman font. This does not include the bibliography, which should be on a separate page.
Organizing Tips:
  • Think about it—Think of your research as puzzle pieces. You have bits and pieces from different sources, now think about how they all fit together.
  • Make an outline—Start to put the puzzle together. Create an outline with three sections: an introduction, body, and a conclusion. The body will be the largest part by far, but include a thesis and other ideas that you want in the introduction and conclusion.
  • Incorporate your research—Figure out where your research pieces “fit” into your out- line. Include the parenthetical citation in the outline so it will be easy to find later.
  • Get feedback—We will not review papers or rough drafts, but your teacher can give you feedback about your organization and citations. If you are not sure about something at this point, you may contact your teacher.
Writing Tips:
  • Interact with the information—A good paper not only relates facts, it should also show that the writer (you) really understands the subject through interpretation and analysis of the information you find. You should try to discuss your own original thoughts about the subject matter and relate that to your research findings.
  • Keep paragraphs focused—Each paragraph should focus on one topic. Paragraphs that run on and on are usually signs of bad organization.
  • Transition between thoughts—As you write your paper, make sure you use good grammatical transitions and similar ideas to tie together your paragraphs.
  • Revise—Your paper does not have to be perfect the first time around. Sometimes it is better to just focus on getting your ideas on paper first, and then go back and revise and improve your paper. Be sure to proofread and edit before turning in your paper.
  • Introduce quotes and explain terms—If you use a quote, be sure to tie it into your topic and explain why it is important. If you mention a new term or event that is specific to your topic, explain it and show that you understand what you are writing about.
Proofreading and Editing Tips:
  • Proofread AT LEAST ONCE—You have put a lot of effort into your paper, so take a few minutes to read through it and fix any little mistakes and awkward or unclear sentences.
  • Do not trust spell-check—Spell-check will catch some typing errors but not all, and it will not recognize incorrect word use. Make sure you read and re-read your paper before turning it in. Points will be deducted for mistakes like this.
  • Have someone else proofread—A sentence or thought that made perfect sense to you might be confusing to someone else. Sometimes a fresh pair of eyes will notice things that you did not.

Give Credit to Your Sources

Plagiarism is a serious issue. In fact, it is punishable by law. It means that you are taking someone else’s ideas and using them as your own in your research paper.  You can avoid plagiarizing by properly giving credit to the resources you use. Make sure you follow MLA format to give credit. You can also avoid plagiarism by making sure you restate your findings in your own words.

Use MLA format—It’s ok if you have never heard of MLA format or parenthetical citations, but you must use them in this paper to document the sources of your information. Take a few minutes to read the information below and as always, just ask your teacher if you have any questions. You will see in the “Sample with Citations and Bibliography” section how these are used.

MLA Style Sheet Guidelines

When writing anything that is going to be turned in for a grade, (research papers, journal assignments, etc.) it is important to know how to properly document. Any ideas that you incorporate into your writing that are not your own original thoughts must be given proper credit. This includes direct quotes, paraphrasing, or summarizing. We recommend the Modern Language Association’s (MLA) style for citing your resources.

The MLA style is quite easy; there are no endnotes or footnotes. First introduce the section you want to cite or use it in your paragraph and follow it with the author’s name (unless it was included in the introduction) and the page number where you found the information. This documentation is placed in parentheses at the end of the section, generally before the ending punctuation.



The Modern Language Association (MLA) guidelines require that you cite the quotations, summaries, paraphrases, and other material used from sources within parentheses typically placed at the end of the sentence in which the quoted or paraphrased material appears. The parenthetical method replaces the use of citational footnotes. These in-text parenthetical citations correspond to the full bibliographic entries found in a list of references at the end of your paper. (Note that the titles of works are underlined rather than placed in italics.) Unless otherwise indicated, on-line sources follow the same pattern as print versions.


This description of Grant and Lee extends itself to a contrast of the political philosophies of the two sides in the conflict (Lestler 97).


According to Lestler, Americans must learn to recycle most of their waste or “communities will face never-ending debates over disposal sites” (129). Note the placement of the quotes.


Learning at home presents some challenges because this setting can be subject to distraction. Students must acquire the skills and habits of being effective distance learners (Moore and Kearsley 12).


The parentheses will come after the end punctuation in this case. Remember to indent and single-space this quote.

As the business plan was researched, some good examples were discovered. You should always try to focus on what makes your product different from others and what makes it better. The Ben & Jerry’s model is one good example that I found.

Technology is important as well, the business plan states: “Perfecting the technique of inserting large chunks of cookies and candies into ice cream has required a considerable investment in research and design and the purchase of new machinery and its subsequent modification.” And the need for quality control is acknowledged, if only briefly. (Gumpert 120)

In Ben & Jerry’s statement, the key ingredients are discussed. These ingredients are considered almost entirely in contrast to those of the competition however, noting that Ben & Jerry’s uses no fillers in their ice cream.


This refers to information you may find on the World Wide Web, in emails, or on a CD- ROM. Since it is rare that you would be able to cite specific page numbers, make sure to include the author’s name if possible, and the URL or web address.


As I was looking for materials to help with this guide, I came across this quote: “One problem of searching for materials on the World Wide Web, for instance, is that a search engine can return a listing from the Yale University English Department alongside a listing from my Aunt Millie” (


“The Keystone School is an accredited high school that provides students with the means to earn high school credits or a diploma from home” (2000).


This is the page where you list the sources of your information in a formal manner, alphabetically.


  • Indent 5 spaces on all but the first line of each entry.
  • Double-space between all entries.
  • Alphabetize entries by author; if no author is given, begin with the title.
  • Web Sites should have an author (if given), the title underlined, the date of publication or update (if available), the originator (if available), the date of access, and the URL (electronic address).
Works cited examples:


Gumpert, David E. How to Really Create a Successful Business Plan. Boston: Inc.          Publishing, 1996.

Lestler, James D. A Writer’s Handbook: Style and Grammar. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1991.

Moore, Michael G. and Greg Kearsley. Distance Education: A Systems View. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing, 1996.

ELECTRONIC RESOURCES (websites, email, e-journals, discussion groups, etc.)

To cite files available on the World Wide Web, give the author’s name, last name first (if known); the full title of the work, in quotation marks; the title of the complete work (if  applicable), in italics; any version or file numbers; and the date of the document or last revision (if available). Next, list the date of access, followed by the protocol (e.g., “http”) and the full URL enclosed in angle brackets.

Burka, Lauren P. “A Hypertext History of Multi-User Dimensions.” 1993. MUD History. 2 Aug. 1996 <>.

To cite electronic publications and databases, list  the  author’s  name,  last  name  first  (if known); the title of the article, in quotation marks; and the title of the software publication, in italics. Next, list any version or edition numbers or other identifying information, the series name (if applicable), and the date of publication. Finally, cite the name of the database (if applicable) and the name of the online service–both in italics–or the Internet protocol and address, any other publication information, the directory path followed (if applicable), and the date accessed.

Christopher, Warren. “Working to Ensure a Secure and Comprehensive Peace in the Middle East.” U.S. Dept. of State Dispatch 7:14, 1 Apr. 1996. FastDoc. OCLC. File #9606273898. 12 Aug. 1996.

To cite CD-ROMS, software programs, or games, cite the name of the author or corporate author (if available); the title of the software program, in italics; the version number (if applicable and if not included in the software title); and the publication information, including the date of publication (if known).

ID Software. The Ultimate Doom. New York: GT Interactive Software, 1995.

Use Parenthetical Citations—incorporating these rules:

  • After using information from a source in your paper, give a brief citation in parentheses (). Use the first item  in  the  bibliography  entry,  usually  author’s  last  name,  and  page number when possible. Here is an example:

Overall the Crusades were largely unsuccessful but “despite the failure of the Crusades, the crusading spirit died slowly” (Miller, 255).

  • Citations go at the end of a sentence but before the period. Citations go where you use the information. If you use three different sources in one paragraph, cite each one. If you use information from one source repeatedly in a paragraph, just use one citation at the end.

Include a Bibliography/Works Cited Page—incorporating these rules:

List all your sources—You’ve done a lot of hard research, so make sure you tell us what you have found. Bibliography entries provide the reader with detailed information about your sources. This goes at the end of your paper.

  • Indent 5 spaces on all but the first line of each entry.
  • Single space within entries, double-space between entries.
  • Alphabetize entries by author; if no author is given, begin with the title.
  • Websites should have the author (if given), title underlined, date of publication or up- date (if available), originator (if available), date of access, and the URL (electronic address).

Do NOT Plagiarize!

Plagiarism is the use of another person’s work with a lack of acknowledgment of the source of that work. The most recognized form of plagiarism is copying someone else’s words, but plagiarism can also be failure to give credit to the people who supplied you with your information. Plagiarism is extremely serious and will be dealt with harshly (see Student Handbook for details). This is a research paper, so you must show where your information came from with bibliography entries and parenthetical citations.

  • Always use your own words—It is not enough to change a few words here and there–take the idea or piece of information from the author and explain it yourself. This not only avoids plagiarism, but it shows your reader that you understand what you are writing about. An imperfect explanation from you is much better than a perfect one from someone else.
  • Give credit where credit is due—Even when you use your own words, you must cite, or give credit to, the source of the information with a parenthetical citation. (See MLA format page.)
  • Quote properly when necessary—You should only quote when an author says something in a unique or especially effective way. If you do quote a source, you should introduce the quote and explain how it relates to your topic and why it is important. And once again, you must give full credit with a parenthetical citation. is a plagiarism detection and prevention website that we use to verify that your papers are your own work. detects unoriginal material (copied text) from websites or books, including papers bought or found on the Internet.


Sample with Citations

Julius Caesar was one of the most critical figures in all of Roman history. While he eventually was murdered by close friends and members of the Roman senate, he was one of the most popular leaders to ever rule Rome. In this essay, we will discover how Julius Caesar rose to power by combining military and political genius, while keeping the population of Rome in his pocket. <Thesis statement>

Success in the military is one of the main ways Roman politicians rose in status and power. Military historian J.F.C. Fuller describes how Julius Caesar was not only a successful soldier, but a philosophical leader, saying, “he avoided quarrels, not because they aggravated the present trouble, but because they compromised the future” (51). <Page number only since author’s name introduced.> Fuller also points out that when Caesar began his rise to power he was not an unusually successful or well-trained soldier, but other historians argue that the Roman military at this time was often led by aristocratic soldiers who ended up in leadership   roles not because of their military skill, but rather because of their social standing (“Julius Caesar”). <Discussion of differing views. No page number included because this citation is a one-page website.>

While success on the battlefield gave Caesar the power to challenge his political rivals in Rome, it was his popularity with the people that ensured his long-term acceptance. <Transition sentence smoothly moves from one subject/paragraph to another.> Caesar gained great popularity with the people of Rome because of his military victories, but also with his lavish spending habits, superb speaking talents, and efforts to include more people in the benefits offered by Rome (Miller 152). <Actual citation from a textbook.> After the civil war, Caesar actually forgave many of his enemies in Rome, which further endeared him to the people (“Encyclopedia – Julius Caesar,” Dictatorship and Death). <Website citation. Article name is ““Encyclopedia — Julius Caesar,”” but since it has many sections, the exact location of the information is needed, just like a page number from a print source.>

In conclusion, it is easy to see why Caesar was so popular and had such success in becoming one of the most important people in Roman history. His military success and popularity with the people of Rome allowed him to change the entire political scene of the Roman Republic. <Restate thesis in conclusion.> Caesar entered and ruled Rome as a republic but left it ready to shift into the expansive empire that so dominated and shaped the history of a large portion of the world.


“Encyclopedia – Julius Caesar.” Infoplease. 2004. Accessed 5 Feb.  2005


Fuller, J.F.C. Julius Caesar: Man, Soldier and Tyrant. Combined Books, paperback edition, 1998.

“Julius Caesar.” Battlefield Anomalies. April 2004. Accessed 5 Feb. 2005


Miller, Sue, et al. World History: Peoples & Nations. Austin, Texas: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 2000.

Submitting Your Research Paper

Once you have completed the research paper, it must be submitted to your instructor.

Your first research paper is due after the Part 1 Exam. Your second research paper is due after the Part 2 Exam.

Start thinking about your Part 1 Research Paper now!

How Your Paper will be Evaluated



15 points

Clear thesis statement that expresses the argument, goals, and/or main focus of the paper. Thesis statement should be easily recognizable.


Introduces topic with general background information and outlines a road-map with development of supporting ideas; provides an overview of what the reader can expect to learn.



Effectively grabs readers’ attention and makes them want to read on.



20 points

Transitions effectively indicating relationships among supporting points, as well as relationships between supporting points and thesis.


Each paragraph focuses on one subject.


Presents both factual information AND original analysis, interpretation, and/or explanation by student.


Effective summarizing, paraphrasing, or quotation of source information.



10 points

Summarizes thesis and main supporting points logically.


Effective/motivational closing remark. Wraps the paper up nicely.



10 points

Proper mechanics (spelling, grammar, punctuation, complete sentences, agreement, etc).


Logical and clear organization of ideas from beginning to end; well written.


Specific to Assignment (American Government)

45 points

Length: 3-4 pgs. = 10 pts., 2-3 pgs. = 5 pts, and less than 2 pgs. = 0 pts.


Parenthetical citations within text of paper crediting sources of information and/or quotation of sources in proper MLA format.


Variety of Sources – books, magazines, Internet.


Works Cited/Bibliography in proper MLA format.




Total Score on Paper




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