PSCI 1050 - Debate and Writing Assignments


  PSCI 1050





Details on this page will be fleshed out by early October.

In order for you to apply your critical thinking and research skills, you will have assignments in three parts: an annotated bibliography, a position paper, and formal debate. 

I. Annotated Bibliograpy (due date: Saturday night 11:59 pm, November 2). Note: you will not be permitted to turn in the position paper to follow if your annotated bibliography has not been submitted and evaluated.

Topic A: Health Care Policy

Group #1: Health care is a privilege and what we have is now only needs tweaking.

Group #2: We need governmental intervention (policy) to ensure affordability for everyone.

Group #3: Health care is a human right and should be free to all.

Subtopics that have been proposed:

      1. To what degree should access to health care be guaranteed?
      2. Who should/how should we pay for health care?
      3. What are the impacts of each approach on the quality of health care?
      4. How do we control the rising cost of health care and drugs?


Topic B: Higher Education Policy

Group #1: Higher education is a privilege and the cost should be borne primarily by those who benefit (i.e., students).

Group #2: Higher education is a right (assuming an applicant is qualified) and should be free.

Subtopics that have been proposed:

      1. What is wrong/right with the current system of tuition with some state funding for public universities?
      2. What are the impacts of each approach on the quality of education?
      3. Who pays/how to pay?
      4. What are the benefits to society of each approach?


Topic C: The Trade War 

Group #1: The trade war is good for America.

Group #2: The trade war is not good for America.

Subtopics that have been proposed:

      1. What are the impacts of the current trade war?
      2. What is better: protectionism or free trade?
      3. Are trade deficits a problem?
      4. How do we protect intellectual property?


Your bibliography will include two types of sources:

Part I: Scholarly and "Gray" Literature

By "scholarly literature," I am referring to peer-reviewed journal articles about your assignment. You will find these by using the library databases that Maria Perez-Stable showed you in class on Monday, October 1. "Gray literature" is not peer-reviewed but comes from reputable foundations, think tanks, and NGOs (non-profits). These are not necessarily neutral sources and may very well take a side, but they are known for their adherence to the norms of research (i.e., backing up conclusions with evidence).

Undertake a search for peer reveiwed sources as instructed during the October 1 class session. Find at least six scholarly (and gray literature) sources. NOTE: of these six, at least three must be peer-reviewed sources accessible through the library databases.

Part II: News articles and analysis. 

Look up news stories using Google News and/or Yahoo News (they bring up different results). Find at least six relevant news sources.

To clarify, you must have a minumum of 12 sources. At least six must come from the scholarly and gray literature category (and at least three of those must be peer-reviewed) and at least six must come from news sources.


Refer to "How to write an annotated bibliography." Each annotation should be 100-150 words. Address the following (if they are appropriate) along with anything else you deem important. DON'T COPY AND PASTE EVEN ONE SENTENCE OR PHRASE (that's called plagiarism and will get you an E for your course grade!).

          1. What is (are) the main point(s) of the source?
          2. How does it address your question? 


Heading in upper right corner: name and date only. No title page.

Section I: Scholarly Sources and Gray Literature

First source:

Full citation in proper style (see source page for link to citation styles).

Annotation paragraph.

Second source:

Full citation in proper style.

Annotation paragraph.

And so on...

Section I: News Sources

First source:

Full citation in proper style (see source page for link to citation styles).

Annotation paragraph.

Second source:

Full citation in proper style.

Annotation paragraph.

And so on...

NOTE (important): See "Instructions for all writing assignments" below.

II. Position Papers (due date: Friday night 11:59 pm, November 22)

Note: you will not be permitted to participate in the debates if your position paper has not been submitted and evaluated.

III. Debates (November 26, December 3 and 5).

Instructions For All Writing Assignments

Submitting assignments

  • You are required to submit your assignments in the elearning dropbox. I won't accept hard copies. Your papers must be in Microsoft Word compatible. (If you use Open Office, use this site to convert to docx format or see instructions here.) Note: Microsoft Works is not acceptable.


Explicit instructions

  • There are minimum lengths. Short papers will be penalized severely (up to a grade for each half-page short or for each annotation in assignment #1 under the minimum of 12). Paper #2 is strictly limited to two pages.
  • Text should be double-spaced with no skipped lines between paragraphs.
  • There should be no spelling mistakes, typos, grammar mistakes, or syntax problems. Verbs should agree with subjects. Sentences should officially end before the next one begins. Don't jump around among tenses. Never use "you." Don't capitalize nouns unless they're supposed to be capitalized (the fact that POTUS does this constantly does not make it correct). Keep straight the difference between its and it's, and between their, there and they're. And never, ever use apostrophes for plural nouns.
  • Spell-check will not catch all your spelling mistakes. There is no substitution for careful proofreading.
  • Avoid both fluff and excessive verbiage. Don't wander off into tangents. Be concise, but sufficiently detailed to make your argument.
  • I doubt if I need to say this to any of you, but it needs to be on the record: don't play games with margin width and font size to make your paper longer. Margins should be no greater than 1" on the sides and 1" at the top and bottom. Font size should not exceed the equivalent of 11 point Times New Roman or Calibri.
  • Keep your font black.
  • Adhere to the deadline. Late penalties are draconian, and could result in your premature death or dismemberment. (Actually, I'm serious. See late penalty policy on the syllabus page).
  • One third of your grade will be on writing quality and on whether you followed these instructions. If you write a brilliant paper, but one that's sloppy and ill-written, and does not correspond to the parameters written here, you can get a D.


Citation Style

  • Political science uses Chicago style. But for our papers, you can use any of the three major styles: Chicago, MLA or APA. But note: BE CONSISTENT, and DO NOT make up your own style. You may find it easiest to use a site that automatically formats your entries such as Knightcite.

  • Never use a web link to a peer-reviewed source you found through the library databases. Follow the citation format of the style you choose.