UCSD Social Science Research Report

I. LENGTH

  • There is no minimum. Most papers should be approximately 1500-3000 words. Very concisely written papers may be shorter than this if they include the required elements. I encourage you to write a paper that is exactly as long as is necessary in order to discuss the required elements and no longer. Some students write in a verbose style and others write tersely. Whatever the case, padding a paper to reach an arbitrary word count will not be beneficial to your overall grade on the paper, and could actually lead to a poorer paper and loss of points.

II. CONTENT

All students are encouraged, in addition to reviewing prior research project instructions, to download and read this one page summary of the major goals and elements of a typical SS3A research paper. Understanding not just what needs to be where, but why, is a major element in writing a successful research report. Read it here: My 8 Recommendations for a High Quality SS3A Paper

III. GENERAL APA FORMATTING

  • The intended audience of any piece of writing places many requirements on the author. Minor variations from the established APA style will not cause trouble (and therefore will not lose you points), but moderate to major deviations from the expected format make reading difficult and will cost you points.
  • For this paper, you are to follow the form and content guidelines set forth in the APA style guide, a common and flexible research-paper format that should be understood and easily read by most branches of social science
  • Please consult with one of the following references and read carefully to learn what is expected:
    • Our Optional Course Text: American Psychological Association. 2010. Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. Washington DC: American Psychological Association. ISBN-10: 1-4338-0561-8 ISBN-13: 978-1-4338-0561-5 (specifically chapters 2, 3, and 6; chapter 4 is also very useful)
    • The American Psychological Association. (2014). “The Basics of APA Style.” [Online Tutorial]. Retrieved from:
  • The Google Document provided for you also contains the basic formatting that is expected. If you copy and paste your paper into this document and remove the original formatting, then it is your responsibility to ensure that proper formatting is retained or restored
  • Please heed these few general formatting expectations:
    • Font: Standard (examples: Arial, Helvetica, Lucida, Times New Roman, Verdana, or Palatino)
    • Font Size: 11-12 point
    • Margins: 1 inch
    • Line-Spacing: 1.5 (MS Word Standard) or 2.0 (Double)
    • Page Numbers: number all pages (leaving title page un-numbered is fine)
    • Headers: Pages should have headers (note that the inclusion of the cover page will make it difficult to perfectly observe the APA guidance on how the header should look on your first page. Just be sure to include a basic header that resembles the APA formatting guidelines and you’ll be fine).

IV. GRAMMAR, SPELLING, PUNCTUATION

  • If errors in grammar, punctuation, usage, or style detract or negatively impact our ability to read and understand your central points and ideas, points must be deducted. Please consult with the chart on the last page for details and sample penalties. It is not our intent to focus on these aspects. If the paper is mostly error-free and easily readable, the mechanics will have very little impact on your grade. But, if your paper contains a large number of errors, misspellings, grammatically incorrect sentences, or other problems, we will deduct points. The standard for the paper is well-written academic or conversational English prose. The choice depends on your voice and style, but in either case, careful attention should be paid to such mechanics.
  • There is no stated preference for the first person active voice (e.g. In this paper I demonstrate that cherries are tasty) or the third person passive voice (e.g. In this paper it is shown that cherries are tasty). This is largely a matter of disciplinary custom and opinion. We will happily grade a paper written in either style, though you should take care to select one or the other and use it consistently, or to mix and match only sparingly.

V. REQUIRED SECTIONS

  • ALL papers should ata minimum have the following four parts:
    • A Title Page
      • Please adhere to the guidelines in the above APA style guides. At a minimum, should include:
        • Title
        • Your Name
        • Your affiliations (e.g. UCI)
        • ADDITIONALLY: Your SS3A HWID number should be included somewhere on this page
      • An Abstract
        • 150-250 words summarizing the paper. It is ideal to summarize the following:
          • The research question
          • The major claim/hypothesis
          • A Description of the major reasons and summary of the evidence presented
          • The major conclusion(s) of the paper
          • Any other points that feature prominently in your paper
        • A list of the keywords that you feel best describe your paper topic and question
      • Main Body
        • This section may be divided into any number of subsections, possibly including:
          • Introduction
          • Background and Significance
          • Literature Review
          • (Methods)
          • (Results)
          • (Discussion)
          • Conclusion
          • Others
        • The bold section headings above will be used in nearly all papers for this course
        • Please see the pages that follow for details about the main body of your paper
        • Main Parts of this section should be identified using the Header 1 style
        • Subparts should be identified using Header 2, 3, etc.
        • You should ensure that these header levels conform to the APA style guidelines
      • References
        • All references should include complete bibliographic information as required by the APA citation system and should be formatted accordingly. All online references and electronically accessible journal articles should have a stable URL or DOI for easy verification if a reader has questions
        • Begin on a separate page at the end of the paper
        • Include “References” OR “Works Cited” at the top, centered
        • List all references alphabetically, and then from most recent to least recent (if you have multiple references by the same author)
        • Reverse-indent all references
      • OPTIONAL: Tables and Figures are a powerful tool for communicating evidence. There is no requirement that any student *must* include tables or figures. Any Tables or Figures that are included should be placed at the end of the paper, after the reference section. They should be numbered and formatted in a manner consistent with the APA style recommendations

VI. APA STYLE IN-TEXT CITATIONS

  • As discussed all quarter, correctly formatted APA-style in-text citations should be used wherever appropriate to provide full attribution of the work and ideas of others. All in-text citations must have a corresponding entry in a reference list at the end of the paper. Failure to include both will be a serious issue. If you are more comfortable with an alternative citation system, it may be used as long as you speak with us in advance and indicate this on your cover page.
  • For detailed guidance, please review the lists of resources included in the course notes and labs on scholarly attribution (Modules 2.1 and 2.2)

VII. PARAPHRASING VS. DIRECT QUOTES

  • Uncommon cases, information, figures, and ideas from other sources must be either a.) adequately paraphrased and cited or b.) directly quoted and cited.
  • Do not rely too heavily on direct quotes. A paper that is composed of multiple long quotes without extensive interpretation and original synthesis or analysis of what has been quoted will result in a very poor score.

VIII. ORIGINALITY

  • Lastly, even with good paraphrasing and minimal direct quotes, you should ensure that your paper contains a substantial quantity of your own original thought, and is not a mere recycling in different language of others’ work. For more guidance, check out the link to the “Plagiarism Spectrum” in the class notes on proper attribution (cn_2.2) and read about the “Aggregator” type in particular. To sum up: it’s fine to cite other’s work extensively, as long as that’s not the only thing you do throughout the entire paper.
  • Please be extra careful to avoid submitting a paper that spends a large volume of space summarizing and discussing only one or two other research reports without contributing much original thought or writing. I call such papers “copies of copies” and I think you would agree that nobody wants to read a rehashing of somebody else’s paper when we could just read that paper. Your paper should reflect some original ideas or syntheses.

IX. TURNITIN AND PLAGIARISM

  • Software will be used to detect papers that may contain large quantities of directly quoted or unquoted material with or without proper attribution. A high match percentage will not by itself be grounds for penalty, but will flag a paper for closer inspection. Avoiding such scrutiny by writing your own original paper is the simple route. Please remember – we will handle all TurnItIn transactions. You simply edit the shared Google Doc.
  • Papers that are found to include even small acts of plagiarism – whether intentional or “accidental” – will be penalized up to the full point total for this assignment. Anything other than a minor slip up (example: a single in-text citation that is out of place) will also be grounds for a charge of academic dishonesty. Please review the information at https://aisc.uci.edu/Links to an external site. along with the extensive course materials on attribution. Claiming the work of others as your own, or taking credit for it, is dishonest and undermines the values of the entire community at this University. For your own benefit and that of all scholars, plagiarism will not be tolerated.sca

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