HSEP 301



Research Paper


This is big and has very important information in it.  For that reason, I’ve created a Table of Contents (linked to sections below) for you to use to find information you’re looking for.  You should read this entire assignment, however.  I guarantee you will wind up with a better grade if you do.


The Assignment

            The Executive Summary

Sample Executive Summaries

            The Terrorist Groups

            The Issue Areas



Citations and Bibliography

Citing Specific Information

Page Numbers

Numbering Endnotes or Footnotes

Introductory Paragraph



Nitpicks and Style Issue (or Helpful hints)

Late Papers

The Assignment

You will be writing a 1-2 page executive summary on an assigned issue related to a terrorist group and creating five PPT slides that you will use in your five minute class presentation scheduled for the end of the semester.  You will be required to hand in a rough draft of the summary (at a date indicated on the syllabus) and a final version (at a date indicated on the syllabus).  The rough draft is intended to give me an opportunity to help you out with the style of an executive summary and give you an opportunity to rewrite the executive summary based on my comments.


The paper and presentations will be a group project, sort of.  Each group of five students (possible six) will choose a terrorist organization to analyze. I will help assign the terrorist organizations to be studied during the first three weeks of the class. There is an approved list of organizations (see below).  Each group will use a division of labor in which each individual student is responsible for examining one aspect/issue of the terrorist organization (see below). All the aspects/issues taken together will provide a comprehensive picture of the terrorist organization.


The Executive Summary

After you graduate, you will take a job, maybe in the government, maybe in the private sector.  Either way, you will probably not be the CEO.  You will be working for someone else and your job will probably be based on your ability to help your boss do a good job.  There will be two key elements to that: information and communication.  Your ability to provide your boss with high quality and high reliability information will be one key challenge.  Your ability to communicate that information to your boss in an easy to digest form will be the other key.  Think of it this way: Assume that I am the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs.  I have to report to the Undersecretary of Defense for Political Affairs on terrorist groups around the world.  I can’t read a book on every terrorist group out there.  Also, I have eight zillion other responsibilities.  I can devote about five minutes to each terrorist group, so I need for you (my chief deputy) to give me the information I need in a very short report that will tell me everything I need to know about the terrorist group in under five minutes.  That’s the life of a busy public or private sector executive.  You, as the deputy, have to provide your boss with what he/she needs: one to two pages that tell him/her what he/she needs to know.  You’re the expert and you need to provide that expertise in a format that is succinct, clear, and informative. 


The Elements of an Executive Summary

There are many ways to think about an executive summary, but here is what I think is the best way. How you break this down into paragraphs is up to you, but suggestions are made below.


Sample Executive Summaries

Here are examples of one to two page executive summaries for the terrorist/insurgent group al-Shabaab.  The summaries are annotated so you can see what I was trying to achieve in each paragraph, even in some sentences.  If you have trouble reading the comments, you may need to play around with the settings of your toolbars to reveal the icons for comments.  You’ll also notice that the bibliography is in a different file than the text.  That is not required of you, but it was simpler to do it that way.  Please notice endnote and bibliographic format.  You may use that style as a template for your paper if you like.  You can use any established style (MLA, etc…)


The following are links to examples from Rand Corporation documents.  These are on line executive summaries of larger documents, which are also on line.  If you go to Rand’s main web site (www.rand.org) and look under publications, you will find summaries of almost all their documents included with the documents themselves.  Rand is funded mostly by the US government, so most of what they publish is available on line for free to the good taxpayers of the US. Most of these summaries are longer than yours has to be, but the papers they are summarizing are also longer than your hypothetical paper.  These links will take you to the document where you can click in the full document or the summary.

·         Jennifer D. P. Moroney and Joe Hogler, with Benjamin Bahney, Kim Cragin, David R. Howell, Charlotte Lynch, S. Rebecca Zimmerman, Building Partner Capacity to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction (Santa Monica: Rand Corporation, 2009), Available at http://www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/MG783/

·         Brian A. Jackson, David R. Frelinger, Emerging Threats and Security Planning: How Should We Decide What Hypothetical Threats to Worry About? (Santa Monica: Rand Corporation, 2009), Available at http://www.rand.org/pubs/occasional_papers/OP256/

·         Brian A. Jackson, David R. Frelinger, Understanding Why Terrorist Operations Succeed or Fail (Santa Monica: Rand Corporation, 2009), Available at http://www.rand.org/pubs/occasional_papers/OP257/

·         Peter Chalk, The Malay-Muslim Insurgency in Southern Thailand -- Understanding the Conflict's Evolving Dynamic (Santa Monica: Rand Corporation, 2008), Available at http://www.rand.org/pubs/occasional_papers/OP198/

·         Daniel Byman, Understanding Proto-Insurgencies (Santa Monica: Rand Corporation, 2007), Available at http://www.rand.org/pubs/occasional_papers/OP178/


The Terrorist Groups

There are many terrorist organizations. The following is the list you may choose from for your research.  On the back of the map quiz there will be a list of these groups and you will be able to choose a first, second, and third favorite.  I will try to place everyone in the first or second choice.  Until the map quiz (about the third week or course, feel free to learn more about these groups or ask me questions, so you can pick one that will be the most interesting to you).These are groups I feel have been studied in depth.  You will find plenty of information on them. You’ll hear this again and again, but never enough: use books and journals, not just web sites!!!!

1.      FARC: Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia: Began as a hardcore Marxist group and evolved into drug cartel/slash terrorist organization that had its own army and controlled a significant percentage of the nation. Recently signed a peace deal with the government of Columbia that looks like it has ended the conflict.

2.      Hezbollah: Lebanese-based group with strong ties to Iran that has been responsible for attacks against Israel, kidnappings of US citizens, and the 1983 bombing of the US Marine Barracks in Beirut. Operates as a political party with members of parliament and cabinet seats, while also maintaining a militia that commits terrorist acts and possesses short-range ballistic missiles.

3.      Irgun: An Israeli independence organization operating in British-controlled Palestine in the 1930s and 1940s led by individuals who eventually became prominent Israeli politicians

4.      Jemaah Islamiya (JI): Indonesian-based organization which may or may not be AQ’s main ally in Indonesia, but has been held responsible for numerous terrorist bombings.

5.      LRA: Lord’s Resistance Army: a radical Christian group trying to seize power in Uganda. Led by Joseph Kony, it has used violent terrorist tactics against civilians.  It has operated in Uganda, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Central African Republic.

6.      LTTE: Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam: Sri Lankan group that has been fighting the government for control over the Northeast half of the island nation. It was defeated in the spring and summer of 2009.

7.      Red Army Faction (RAF): (also known as Baader-Meinhof Group): 1960s and 1970s left-wing group operating in West Germany.

8.      Weather Underground Organization: Leftist radical group of the late 1960s and early 1970s in the US.  Most noted for inciting riots and blowing up the apartment building they used as a headquarters in New York while preparing a bomb (1970).


Since this is a group project you will be working together to a certain extent.  This means that you should expect to share sources with each other.  For example, there may be one copy of the best book on the organization at the library.  Don’t hog it.  Work out a schedule for each of you to take turns with the book.  Tell each other of good websites and good journal articles.  Don’t be afraid to share sources on this topic.  Your specific issues are different enough that you will be interested in different aspects of the same sources.  If anyone has any problem with this, let me know.


The Issue Areas

For each terrorist organization examined, the assigned issues are listed below. Each of you will be assigned one issue to research for the terrorist group you’ve been assigned.  I will give brief examples of what I mean using al-Qaeda, an organization we will discuss at length in class, but that will not be one of the terrorist groups that the research papers will focus upon.  Each member of the group assigned to research a specific terrorist organization will focus on one of these issues (1-5) unless I indicate that number 6 is also a choice.  You will be making the choice of issue yourself and then submitting to me, as a group, the issue assignments.  For example, let’s say that there are five people who have been assigned to study the terrorist organization “Bombings ‘R Us.” Early on the semester you’ll give me a list that shows me which topics each member of the group will be researching.  Research and present only on the topic you are assigned.  The list would look like this:

Bombings ‘R Us

Issue One: Oscar Robertson

Issue Two: Michael Jordan

Issue Three: Larry Bird

Issue Four: LeBron James

Issue Five: Bill Russell


The issues in brief:

1.      Origins, objectives, and doctrines of the organization

2.      Leadership and leadership structure

3.      Support for the organization, in terms of both governmental and non-governmental, finances, and recruiting methods

4.      Strategy, targets, and method of operations

5.      The nature of counterterrorist efforts against the organization

6.      Non-violent political activities of the organization (ignore this unless I specifically assign it)

7.      Negotiations (ignore this unless I specifically assign it)


The issues in detail

Issue One

Origins, objectives, and doctrines of the organization: Describe the creation of the organization, its reason for being and its political goals.  What doctrines does it use to guide its belief systems and activities?

 (Are these goals realistic given the politics of the situation? Are these goals negotiable as part of a settlement that will end political violence and lead to a partial achievement of these goals?) 

For al-Qaeda (AQ), the origins date back to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan when militants from all over the Middle East and Asia came to Afghanistan to fight the “infidel” invaders.  The organization flourished again after the Gulf War in opposition to US troops stationed in Saudi Arabia.  The goals are diverse: removal of US troops from the Middle East, destruction of Israel, removal of authoritarian rulers in the Middle East and democratic rulers in Southeast Asia, replacement of those rulers with AQ approved leaders.  The doctrines are a mixture of radical Islamic ideas (indeed in many ways very un-Islamic) and Arab nationalism.

(The goals don’t sound very realistic, or very negotiable.  AQ may achieve them, however, by sowing general chaos in these regions, a chaos that could lead to the rise of demagogues that might move in the most radical direction.  Remember, how economic and political turmoil in Germany, Italy, and Japan between WW I and WW II led to the victory of fascists in all three countries.)


Issue Two

Leadership and leadership structure: Who leads this organization and by what means? Is this leadership stable or in flux?  Are there rivalries within the leadership? Is it hierarchical or network-based?

(Is this leadership structured well or is it chaotic to the point where it inhibits the organizations ability to act? Are the organizations too dependent on single individuals or has the institutional structure been developed enough to survive the capture or death of the senior leaders?)

            For AQ the picture is mixed.  It has a strong leadership (Osama bin-Laden) and it has survived the capture of its number three man -- Khalid Sheikh Muhammed. However, it is also network-based with a series of loosely connected cells, alliances with other groups, and even entrepreneurial groups that it funds, but may not direct. 

(The leadership seems to be in a state of flux since it was pushed out of Afghanistan, but it seems to have enough organizational staying power to continue to operate although in a weakened state, it is believed.  New people are promoted up the command structure and the entrepreneurial nature of AQ operations makes central command less important in any case.)


Issue Three

Support for the organization, in terms of both governmental and non-governmental, finances, and recruiting methods: Does the organization have ties to nation-states or is it independent of them and geographically dispersed?  What are the sources of its funding and its recruit base? 

(What could change, weaken, or strengthen that support?  Have there been changes in support for the organization?  If so, what are those changes and why did they occur?)

            For AQ the support structure dates back to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the training facilities set up there, then reenergized after the victory of the Taliban in the Afghan civil war.  The support also comes from the religious schools throughout the Middle East and Asia that preach a militant version of Islam.  Most of them are funded by Saudi Arabia.  Other support comes from charitable organizations tolerated by many nations in those regions and overt support was given by the government of Afghanistan from 1996-2001.  Funding also came from organized crime activities, particularly the drug trade.

(Obviously, the aftermath of September 11 has changed that support.  Many more passive supporters -- providing funding but not involved in terrorist actions -- turned against the organization.  The overthrow of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the anti-terrorist measures from Pakistan have hurt AQ.  However, reportedly, the US intervention in Iraq has helped recruitment.


Issue Four

Strategy, targets, and method of operations: How does the organization intend to achieve its goals, both in terms of long-term strategy and immediate activities?   Does it use mass targeting of civilians for maximum publicity or selective targeting of political figures or economic and infrastructure attacks?  Does it use kidnapping or attacks on military targets?  Does it operate internationally or only locally?  What are its expectations for those operations?  How does it achieve victory?

(Is this strategy likely to be successful?  How has the strategy played out?  Is the organization closer to its goals?)

            For AQ the strategy has been the use of violence in ever larger attacks on civilians. The main target has been the US and occasionally its allies. The method has been car bombs and attacks on planes or use of planes as means of attack. 

(The strategy has been unsuccessful so far.  Instead of causing the US to withdraw from the Middle East, the US is more deeply involved than ever.  AQ seems farther away from its goals.  Some argue, however, that in the long run AQ has manipulated the US into overreacting and overreaching, that the current US intervention in Iraq will backfire on the US.  It will lose support and sympathy around the world.  AQ will gain more recruits.  Ultimately, the difficulties in Iraq will lead the US to withdraw from the Middle East.)


Issue Five

The nature of counterterrorist efforts against the organization: What measures have been taken by local, regional, and global authorities to combat the organization and what have been the results of these actions?

(Have counterterrorist efforts against the organization achieved success or failure?)

            For AQ there have been numerous responses to September 11: US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq; Pakistan turned against the Taliban and turned against militants at home; Saudi Arabia has begun to crack down on militants; US creation of a homeland security agenda and institutions to carry out that agenda; and international coalition against terrorism that supports multinational efforts to crack down on terrorist groups worldwide.

            (Whether these efforts have succeeded or not is still uncertain.  No attacks have been made on the US since September 11; however, numerous attacks have been attempted around the world.  The vast majority have been thwarted, yet some high profile ones have been carried out throughout the world.  The Iraq war has opened up a new theater of attack, but it is uncertain how much of the attacks on US and coalition forces in Iraq are the work of AQ-allied organizations.)


Issue Six (Some groups may have six students in them.  I will assign Issue Six if needed.)

Non-violent political activities of the organization: Is the organization involved in any kind of political activity that is non-violent in nature?  Does it have its own political wing/party that is involved in electoral politics or negotiations with a government?  Does it have a civil society component that provides social welfare or education or community outreach for the poor -- trash collection, soccer leagues, pre-school?  Has it set up a shadow government structure in areas that it controls, if it controls areas?  Is it engaged in criminal activities, such as drug trafficking, that may have started out as a way to fund terrorist activities, but have evolved into a profit-making mission? 

            (What is the effect of these activities?  Do they build a recruit base, provide funds, or legitimize their violent activities? Has it resulted in a negotiated settlement and possibly an end to violence?  Have they turned the organization away from its original mission or have they become a crucial part of that mission?)

            For AQ, this is less of an issue.  AQ is such a virtual organization at this point that deep ties to civil society are too geographically-binding.  AQ does have ties to religious schools throughout the world, charity organizations, and mosques, but these serve as conduits for recruits and financing to AQ.  When in Sudan and Afghanistan, however, AQ did provide schooling, scholarship money, charity for local organizations, and even ran legitimate business operations.  In Afghanistan, AQ provided huge amounts of funding to the Taliban-controlled government to help maintain government social welfare projects, religious education, and the religious police.  AQ does not have a wing that negotiates or engages in legitimate political activity.  It is fighting total war and has shown no real willingness to consider its terrorist activities as a prelude to a negotiated settlement, as is the case with many other organizations.

            (Again, AQ is unusual in that it has no geographic base, so its political activities can’t be linked closely to activities that might implicate people in AQ operations.  This is especially so in the current environment in which the world is trying to hunt down AQ.  AQ is fighting total war.  Its religious nature may preclude – at least for now – any negotiations or compromises with the “infidels.”  But if AQ had become involved in these types of activities (social welfare, political action, or negotiations with a government), the result of those activities would be the big question.  Has it resulted in a political settlement, a semi-legitimizing of the organization, or a full-fledged embrace of the organization as a political voice in the region?)


Issue Seven (Some groups may have six students in them.  This will be one of the possible additional issues that I will assign. Ignore this issue unless I specifically assign it.)

            Negotiations.  Has the terrorist organization been willing to negotiate to end the conflict? Has it been willing to end its strategy of violence if the targeted government agrees to negotiations that, in theory, might lead to some political concessions? Why did the terrorist group agree to negotiate and why did the targeted government agree to negotiate?  What were the results of the negotiations? Did they work out or did the negotiations collapse and lead to a new round of fighting? Was the terrorist organization sincere in its negotiated efforts or was this just a strategy to get the government to relax, allowing the terrorist organization some breathing space to rebuild its capabilities and launch a new round of violence?

            There is no example to use from the history of al-Qaeda. It is not willing to negotiate.  Ethno-nationalist groups, however, have shown a willingness to negotiate.  For example, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), and the Irish Republican Army (IRA) have negotiated with their governmental opponents.  The PLO’s negotiations with Israel produced the Oslo Accords in 1993 that allowed for limited Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and what was believed to be an end to the cycle of violence.  Further negotiations that might lead to a Palestinian state and a lasting peace have failed due to the rise of Hamas (a violent and religious-based) rival to the Fatah movement (the successor political movement to the PLO) and a subsequent hardening of Israeli policy. Instead of peace, renewed violence has dominated the issue since the turn of the century.


We will begin forming the groups and assigning topics early in the semester. 




The paper will include:

·         The bibliography and end notes are separate pages and can be as long as you like.  The bibliography and end notes do not count as part of the 1-2 pages of the executive summary.


            Ask me!  If you have a question on where to find sources or if you need a specific source and you can’t find it, ask me.  This is what I do for a living.  I have everything!


1.      How to start looking for sources. The internet is very good, but remember books and journals and the requirements in using them. For example, if there is a 400 page book on the terrorist organization sitting in the library, it would be a quicker way to a lot of information than a google search.

  1. Use books and journal articles!!!!!  See the requirements above!!! Do not think that you can do a good research job just by surfing the web.  You can surf and surf the web and never find the information you’re finding in web sites.  It might be far easier to walk into the library and find the three or four books (maybe 1,000 pages specifically on the subject you’re researching, or the dozen journal articles on that subject.  My advice: Books first, journals second (start with google.scholar), then surf the web.  (Hey, he repeated this; maybe it’s important…)

3.      Many journals are available through the VCU system and you can search through the VCU library, but you may also try Google Scholar (http://scholar.google.com/).  Use this instead of a regular search on any search engine. It will get you scholarly work, think tanks reports and journals rather than the Wikipedia entry.

4.      Many think tanks have great resources on them. On your syllabus is a link to sources on Terrorism and Homeland Security.  There are lots of links there to excellent sources. In particular: the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point (http://www.ctc.usma.edu/), or Rand Corporation (www.rand.org).

5.      Journals specifically to terrorist-related issues:

a.       Studies in Conflict and Terrorism (available on line through VCU Libraries);

b.      Terrorism and Political Violence (available on line through VCU Libraries);

c.       The Long War Journal

d.      Small Wars Journal

6.      Journals on International Security issues that may also have excellent articles on Terrorism and counterterrorism issues

a.       Foreign Affairs (policy-oriented)

b.      Foreign Policy (policy-oriented)

c.       The National Interest (policy-oriented)

d.      The Washington Quarterly (policy-oriented)

e.       Survival (policy-oriented)

f.       Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence (policy-oriented)

g.       The American Interest (policy-oriented)

h.      Parameters (journal of the US Army Strategic Studies Institute)

i.        Military Review (US Army Combined Arms Center)

j.        Joint Force Quarterly (journal of the Chairman of the JCS)

k.      Strategic Studies Quarterly (journal of the US Air Force Air University)

l.        The Naval War College Review (journal of the US Naval War College)

m.    Orbis (half policy; half academic)

n.      Journal of Strategic Studies (half academic; half policy)

o.      Foreign Policy Analysis (half academic; half policy)

p.      International Security (academic)

q.      Security Studies (academic)

r.        International Affairs (London-based academic)

s.       World Politics (academic)

t.        Journal of Conflict Resolution (academic)

u.      Armed Forces and Society (academic on civil-military relations)

v.      List of links of US and other national military journals; some think tank journals too

7.      Regionally-focused Journals: there are a few dozen journals out there that focus specifically on regional political issues and they will have articles on the terrorist organizations from that region.  To find those, you can simply search VCU libraries or Google Scholar using the name of the region as a keyword (such as Middle East or Asia) and then use  a keyword like: Journal or Affairs or Studies.

Citations and Bibliography

Read this. Pay attention to it or face everlasting doom! Failure to pay attention to this will likely result in a grade of D.

The following is not just because I want to annoy you or because I like to have things done my way.  The following is because this is a class where you will do social science research and the rules of social science research are different from the rules of English composition or journalism.  Learning how to write for different audiences and in different styles is part of the university experience.

You must use an established format for citations and your bibliography.  You need to learn how to reference information properly, and how to write a bibliography with the correct and complete information before you leave VCU. This is easy to do, but more important than you think. Whether you go into academia or business you will be judged on the quality of your information, and that means people will want to know where you found your information. They will judge you at first, before they read your text, on your bibliography and citations. If you do it wrong while at VCU, you’ll get a deduction from your grade.  If you do this in graduate school or government or the business world, you will be asked to go home and not come back (as in “you’re fired”).

If the format for the assignment is an executive summary, only endnotes are allowed (see the requirements above).  If your assignment is for an 8-10 page research paper, then it does not matter to me what format you use, as long as you use an established standard format for the social sciences. You can use footnotes or endnotes or parenthetical references, but you must learn to do it correctly.  Here are web resources that will teach you to do this:

o   Easy Bib

o   Bibme

o   Purdue OWL (Online Writing Workshop)

o   Chicago Manual of Style Quick Guide

o   Endnotes (and footnote style). This is an article that I wrote which has endnotes that you can use as a template.  It also includes a bibliography that you can use as a template.  Endnote and footnote citation style are the same. The only difference is where you place them in the text.  Microsoft word allows you to choose endnotes or footnotes and to switch one to the other if you like.  Ask me if you have questions on how to do this.

o   Parenthetical References This is a link to an article I wrote which can be used as a template for citing using parenthetical references. Note in the citations that the author’s name and publication date is within the parentheses (and page numbers if available). You may have to sign in to get the article.

o   Also, you can use scholar.google.com another way.  If you found the book or article on this page, you’ll see that underneath the small paragraph on the source is a link for “cite”.  Click on that and it will you give several already formatted citations.  You can do that even if you didn’t originally find the source on scholar.google.com.  Just go to the page and search for it there, then click the “cite” link. The properly formatted citation can be copied and pasted directly into you bibliography. Remember, however, that these are bibliographic formats.  Footnotes and endnotes are slightly different and have different page number rules that are discussed below.  That is very important.


Since I have instructed you to pay attention to notation and bibliographic style, and have provided you with a specific place to look for the proper styles, I will take points off of your paper if you do not do this in the correct manner. This is simple. If you do not do it correctly it means one or both of the following: 1) you are not taking the assignment seriously or are too lazy to do the paper correctly; and/or 2) you are doing the paper at the last minute. Both of these are good reasons why you will not get the grade you are able to earn.


Bibliography: The bibliography is all the sources you’ve used (List anything you found useful even if only confirmed information you found other places, even if you have not cited the source in the paper; you don’t realize how much you learned from sources even if you don’t reference specific information from them).  The bibliography is listed in alphabetical order by the author’s last name. There may be no author or you may bet info from a website. See the above resources for the rules on that.


Warning! What not to do.  I realize that in many cases instructors in ENGL 200 are telling you to include reference material in the text of the paper. However, this is exactly the wrong way to reference in social science.  What I mean is the following. 


Citing Information for Footnotes, Endnotes, or Parenthetical References

Footnotes, endnotes and parenthetical references are the three ways to cite information.  On formats, see the above links.  This section describes why and when you cite information. In doing research there are three basic types of things you must cite: quotes, specific information, and other people’s ideas.  Other people’s ideas are covered above under plagiarism.  See the section on quotes, but that shouldn’t be a big issue here.  This is a small paper and you should avoid quotes.  When I say specific information, what I refer to is any information which is not general knowledge.  For example, you would not need to use a citation if you state that Henry Kissinger was Richard Nixon’s National Security Adviser in Nixon’s first term (general knowledge).  But you would have to cite the fact that Kissinger met with Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai on July 9, 1971 and any details of the meeting.

Page numbers

If you are referring to specific information that you found on a specific page in a source (if the source has page numbers, unlike some web sources), you must include the page number where you found the information.  Let’s say you found information in a book that is 450 pages long. Citing the book and not the page number is not very helpful for anyone who thought that the information was interesting and wanted to learn more about it.  You’re forcing that person to scan through 450 pages of text to find the info. Instead, cite the page number and then the reader can just turn to that page number.  This is the established method of citation. This is true even for parenthetical references.  If you are citing the main point of an article or book or something as background information, you don’t need the page number, but if it is specific material it does need a page number.


Numbering Endnotes or Footnotes

You may use endnotes. You may use footnotes, but then the paper must be a bit longer since some of the page will be taken up by footnotes. In the social sciences, footnotes and endnotes are numbered consecutively.  The first note is number 1; the second is number 2, etc.  Microsoft Word will do this for you.  You can use a source more than once in your paper.  There are specific citation formats for the first citation and for the second citation.  You can also put more than one source in a specific note.  See my article for examples for all of this: Endnotes/Footnotes.  A short reference follows:

·         Footnotes and endnotes are numbered consecutively (1, 2, 3, 4…) (Unless you use the natural sciences-style that merges the bibliography and citations as explained above)

On Writing a Good Introductory Paragraph

This is the key to writing a good paper so I am providing detailed instruction on this. Political Science has a specific style of writing, especially when it comes to introductory paragraphs.  It mirrors the style of government memoranda.  In short, the introductory paragraph should summarize the paper and that includes giving the reader a summary of you conclusions.  If you don’t do this, even a great paper, becomes a grade of B. 

A good introductory paragraph should include the following:

In other words, the introduction should provide your reader with a "road map" that explains exactly what you will say during the paper. This is not as difficult as it sounds. Basically, what you need to do is write the outline you have for your paper in sentences in the first few paragraphs of the paper. Your opening paragraph (or couple of opening paragraphs) should also give the reader some reason to be interested in your topic and in your argument. Tell the reader why this subject is important. Here is an example of an opening paragraph: (I’ll use a topic that won’t overlap with anyone’s potential topic.)


This paper will analyze the origins, objectives, and doctrines of al-Qaeda (AQ).  AQ is currently the world’s largest and most active terrorist organization – global in activity, recruitment, and mission.  It is a curious mixture of 21st century technology and medieval ideology.  (That’s the topic.) Its origins date back to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 when militants from all over the Middle East and Asia came to Afghanistan to fight the “infidel” invaders.  Its goals are diverse, but call for the alteration of the political landscape of the Middle East and an end to US influence in that region. The doctrines are a mixture of radical Islamic ideas (indeed in many ways very un-Islamic) and Arab nationalism. (That’s how you will explain your issue—by discussing three sub-topics:  1) initial origins; 2) its goals; and 3) doctrines.)  Overall, the goals don’t sound very realistic, or very negotiable.  While AQ can launch terrorist activities around the world, its ability to actually control territory or capture a nation state is limited.  However, it may have the ability to harass, damage, and attack the targets for decades to come.  (Those are your conclusions.) 


You can use lots of topic headings and subheadings to correspond to the points on your "road map" -- they'll help you organize your thoughts, and they'll help your reader clearly identify where he is on the "road map." The above paper might have five main sections:

  1. Introduction:
  2. Origins of AQ
  3. Objectives
  4. Doctrines
  5. Conclusions (Analysis)


Or another example:


The Barack Obama administration’s decision to invade increase the number of troops in Afghanistan in 2009 can best be described as a collegial decision making process, in which the president relied on all his advisors to give him options and evaluations of options.  However, the final decision was made by Obama himself after close consultation with National Security Adviser James Jones, the senior commanders in Afghanistan, and key all-purpose political advisers within the administration. , (There's the topic and conclusion).  During the deliberations in 2009 and 2010 all senior advisers participated in the decision making process.  Even Vice President Joe Biden, who disagreed with the general direction of the policy, was always allowed to air his views in the National Security Council.  While divisions did exist between the political aides and the Dept. of Defense, no views were left out of the debate (the specific argument and your evidence). This decision making process will be illustrated by a brief examination of the situation as Obama entered office, an analysis of the intra-administration debate between January of and December of 2009, and an examination of the final meetings where the decision was made.  The narrative of the decision will be followed by an analysis of the decision process in the context of the presidential management models. (your road map).


So, this paragraph tells me what you think, summarizes why you think that is true, and explains how you will illustrate your point.


You can use lots of topic headings and subheadings to correspond to the points on your "road map" -- they'll help you organize your thoughts, and they'll help your reader clearly identify where he is on the "road map." The above paper might have five main sections:



As you make the points that support your argument, you'll probably be aware of the places in which your argument is controversial or in which a reasonable person might disagree with you. Preempt those controversies in your text. Point out what those opposing arguments might be, and why you think your point of view is more accurate or reasonable.



·         Use quotes sparingly. I want your writing, not anyone else’s.  If there is a great quote from a direct participant in the event, a phrase, or word, that you think really adds to the paper then a quote may be appropriate here or there.  But if you have a paragraph-length quote in an eight page paper, that would be bad.

·         Don’t quote general information that you found in a scholarly article and don’t quote the conclusions of other scholars.  Paraphrase the information or the idea in your own words and then cite the source.

·         Do not give me a sentence in your paper that quotes that information directly from the source.  For example, don’t include a sentence that says: “The United States included 20,000 troops.” It is basic factual information and does not need to be quoted, but it does need to be cited.  Even if it is an analyst’s opinion, it does not need to be quoted.  Just paraphrase it in your words and cite the source. 

·         Reserve quotes for direct participants: candidates and their staffers, or a voter.  The exact words matter in these cases.  In general though, go easy on quotes. 

·         Too many quotes means that you’re just cutting and pasting, not writing.  A research paper is not a series of quotes rearranged the way you like.  It doesn’t teach you anything and your grade will suffer horribly, terribly, and painfully. 

·         So, for example, if noted terrorist scholar Reed Richards says in his book that “Al-Qaeda probably only consists of 10,000 people worldwide.”  Do not give me a sentence in your paper that reads: Reed Richards says that “Al-Qaeda probably only consists of 10,000 people worldwide.”  Give me something that says: One scholar estimates that al-Qaeda only has 10,000 active members globally (Add the endnote here which cites Richards’ book and the page number in it where the information is found). The full bibliographic information will be in the bibliography at the end of the paper.  Or if Ben Grimm concludes in his book that: “Al-Qaeda’s growth depends on economic reform in the Middle East.  Elimination of poverty is not the biggest problem. Rather it is the ability of the middle class to gain social and economic mobility.”  Don’t quote that, but say: Grimm’s conclusions suggest that economic reforms designed to allow the middle class to grow and prosper will be the key to battling al-Qaeda in the future (Add the endnote here which cites Grimm’s book and the page number in it where the information is found). 

·         In a larger paper, but not in this one, sometimes quotes are useful.  A good quote is this: According to Osama bin-Laden, “for over seven years the United States has been occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places, the Arabian Peninsula, plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers, humiliating its people, terrorizing its neighbors, and turning its bases in the Peninsula into a spearhead through which to fight the neighboring Muslim peoples” (Add the endnote here which cites Bin-Laden’s fatwa and the page number in it where the information is found or the internet URL).  This is an excerpt from the 1998 fatwa of OBL.  Bin-Laden is a participant, a historical figure.  His exact words are important.

·         In any case: Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever cut and paste anything from a source into your document unless you place it in quotes and cite the source of the quote.  And generally in a paper that is under a few dozen papers, there is never a need to quote anything that is not an official source.  Why quote anything unless the exact works are crucial.  So quoting a President or Foreign Minister or a witness to an event is useful, but quoting a scholar or journalist is not. 


Plagiarism and Avoiding It (Or “How to Use Other People’s Ideas Legitimately”)

First, never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever cut and paste anything from a source into your document unless you place it in quotes and cite the source of the quote. And generally in a paper that is under a few dozen papers, there is never a need to quote anything that is not an official source.  Why quote anything unless the exact works are crucial.  So quoting a President or Foreign Minister or a witness to an event is useful, but quoting a scholar or journalist is not.  For the purposes of this paper, there is no reason to quote anyone. The paper is too short for quotes.

This is really not a fine line.  Did you write the sentence or not? Did you come up with the idea or not?  When in doubt, it’s relatively simple: never include something in your paper that you did not write unless it is quotes and then it also must be cited.  Anything that is not your idea must be cited. Plagiarism is a violation of the VCU Honor Code and I will not hesitate to charge someone with a violation if I catch plagiarism.  If you have questions about what is plagiarism, ask me or see VCU’s Writing Integrity Workshop. 

But just because someone else has already written an idea that you agree with 100% doesn't mean you can't discuss it in your paper. Just point out whose idea it is; paraphrase it in your own words, cite the source of the idea, and expand upon it. Generally, that is how Political Science works. 90% of all Political Science articles and books do the following (I give you another example that is not topically relevant to the class):


There are various explanations for the Moscow coup in August 1991. Stan says the military instigated the overthrow (Stan 1994, 1-34). Kyle disagreed, saying the military prevented the coup from being successful (Kyle 1997, 17-29). Cartman says the coup failed because its leaders were inept (Cartman 2000, 307-332). However, all three authors understate the impact of public opinion; the coup really failed because of the Russian people's yearning for Democracy.


The article would then outline the theories of Stan, Kyle, and Cartman, criticize each one, and then develop the fourth theory. There is no problem as long as Stan, Kyle, and Cartman get credited with developing their theories, and the fourth theory is yours. If the fourth theory belongs to a fourth author (Kenny? Timmy? Professor Chaos?), the reader must be told that the fourth theory is Kenny's and your article will show why his theory is superior to the other three.  The point here is that you may find sources which have different opinions on an issue.  For example, one source may say that Hizbullah has ties to Syria and another may say it doesn’t.  You need to decide who’s right.  State that there are differences of opinions.  Cite the sources. Who says there are ties? Who says there aren’t? Then you can, if you want, suggest what you think based on your research.  Or you can simply say that a dispute exists and leave it at that.

If paraphrasing an idea: make sure to change the verb you use so it is different from the verb used in the source.  Make sure you change everything but the proper nouns. So let’s say, you’ve read this in your source: “The President phoned the Prime Minister immediately after he received the news.”  That may be the point you want to make in your paper, but you shouldn’t quote that and can’t copy it (or you’d be plagiarizing).  The only words you really can use here would be “President” and “Prime Minister.”  These are the proper nouns. So put it into your own words.  How about: “Once the President had been informed, he contacted the Prime Minister.” And then cite the source of the information.  That would not be a quote problem or a suspicion of plagiarism

And never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever cut and paste anything from a source into your document unless you place it in quotes and cite the source of the quote.  (He said it again! And in italics! Must mean something!)

Nitpicks and Style Issues (Or Helpful Hints)

1.      Margins and Font Papers should be doubled-spaced with one-inch margins, and reasonable sized font (11 point). Shorter pages with wide margins and large print size font will be penalized.

2.      Subject and Verb Make sure you have a subject and verb in every sentence. (You would be surprised how many important journals and books allow non-sentence sentences). This is non-fiction, not fiction. So you need to observe the basic rules of grammar. A long sentence is not necessarily a better sentence -- each sentence should express only one thought. Don't be afraid to break up a long sentence into two or three shorter ones. It will usually flow better that way.

3.      Official Titles Provide someone’s title in the text the first time you mention them if they are an elected official (Tim Kaine, Governor of Virginia) or an appointed official (Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Paul Nitze).  Thereafter, you can refer to them as Kaine or Nitze. So for the first mention, you’d say: “National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger told his assistant to.…”  From that point on, you can simply say “Kissinger told his assistant to…” When you mention a senator or representative, say: Senator John Warner (R-VA) to introduce and after than you can just say Warner or Senator Warner.

4.      Keep a Copy Make a copy of the paper for yourself before you hand it in to me. There are two reasons for this. If you have a copy, you don't have to worry about me losing a copy. I have never lost anyone's paper, but just in case you should always make sure that you have a copy of your paper with you, in any class, not just this one.

5.      Back up WHEN YOU TYPE YOUR PAPER ON A COMPUTER MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A BACKUP DISK WITH THE PAPER ON IT. AS YOU TYPE THE PAPER SAVE THE FILE TO THE BACKUP DISK EVERY TEN MINUTES OR SO. Don’t just leave it on your hard drive and hope it will be safe.  A super safe way to deal with this is to use your own, already built-in cloud system.  Email the drafts of your paper to yourself and then you know it will be safe on the VCU system and you can access it from anywhere on the planet. Also, remember that if you type on the university computers be careful. Putting your paper on the hard drive in the computer lab is risky – they sweep the hard drives of files at night. Keep a backup copy for yourself. I have several backup copies of anything I write. You don't ever want to lose work because you didn't back it up.

6.      No Wikipedia Do not use Wikipedia or any other web-based encyclopedia.  It is unreliable and you should have stopped using encyclopedias for research in elementary school.

7.      Reliability of the Internet Be careful about internet sources.  Make sure the source is reliable.  Remember that anyone can post anything on the internet.  There aren’t necessarily any editors or fact checkers.  For example, there is a website that links me to the Kennedy assassination; I was two years old. Ask me if you have questions about this (internet sources, not if I was involved in the Kennedy assassination; I wasn’t).

8.      The use of “I”: Try to avoid using “I” in non-fiction.  Instead of “I will discuss three problems…” say “This essay addresses three problems…”

9.      The use of a semicolon: Semicolons connect two complete sentences that are related to each other.  For example: “I went to the pizzeria to get a pie; it was closed so I had Chinese food instead.”  You could also write them as two separate sentences if you wanted.  The following would be an incorrect use of a semicolon: “I had six very tasty pizzas last week; except for that crappy one from the big chain store.”  That should be a comma, not a semicolon.  The test is this:  If the two sentences you are connecting with a semicolon could stand alone as complete sentences then use a semicolon.  So it becomes obvious: “Except for that crappy one from the big chain store” is not a sentence.

10.  The use of “however”: This trips everyone up.  It’s a bit similar to semicolons.  “I went to the pizzeria; however, when I got there, it was closed.”  Notice the semicolon, not the comma.  That’s because “When I got there, it was closed” could be a complete sentence by itself.  Also, this sentence is like the use of a semicolon.  You are connecting two complete sentences.  In this case, you’re connecting two sentences that are related, but related in a very specific way.  The second sentence is adding the “however” to show a different expectation than the first sentence implies.  The first sentence implies you were going to eat pizza.  The second sentence says you didn’t.   On the other hand, look at this example: “I went to the pizzeria.  Upon arriving, however, I found out it was closed.”  The “however” is surrounded by commas.  That’s because “upon arriving” is not a sentence by itself.  Here’s another aspect of this.  “I went to the pizzeria, the one with the best pizza in the world.”  There is a comma there because “the one with the best pizza in the world” is not a sentence by itself. These are the non-fiction rules. In fiction, you can do anything you want.

11.  Some useful rules:

1.      Numbers under 100 should be written as out.  So you would not have this sentence.  “President Bush met with 3 advisers.”  It would be “President Bush met with three advisers.”

2.      When you have an acronym, such as NSDD-75 or UN.  First write out the name in full: National Security Decision Directive (NSDD) 75, or United Nations (UN). After that first use of the term, use the acronym.

Late Papers

Papers are due at the beginning of class on the date indicated in the syllabus. After about 10 minutes of class has passed, your paper is one day late.  That is true for the rough draft and the final draft in cases where a rough draft is mandatory. I will mark late papers down ONE GRADE for each day late. That means that an almost perfect paper -- one that I would give 98 points to -- becomes an 88 if one day late, 78 if two days late, etc,... all the way down to 8 points if nine days late, and zero points if ten days late.

            In classes where a rough draft is mandatory (if the rough draft is optional, ignore this): These deductions count for both the rough and final draft.  For example if you turn the rough draft in one day late and the final draft in one day late, you will have twenty points deducted from your paper grade.  For the rough draft the maximum penalty is 50 points for five days late that will be deducted from the final grade.  If you don’t turn in a rough draft that will be 50 points off.

            Talk to me if you are having some family or personal problems. If there is a serious need to get an extension on the paper, I will give you an extension.  I do realize that there are more important things in life than this class and this assignment.  So if you run into a problem, talk to me. Computer problems do not count as a problem that warrants an extension.  If you are writing your paper at the last minute and you have a problem, the moral of the story is that you should not have been writing your paper at the last minute.  If you have a printer problem, that doesn’t have to be a problem.  Give me your disk and I will print up the paper, or come to my office hours and we'll print up the paper at my office.  If you have some kind of computer problem, and you are not writing your paper at the last minute, let me know.  Maybe I can help.