POLI 355

Asian Governments and Politics

Research paper Instructions

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


What is comparative politics and how do I write a “comparative” paper?

Rough Drafts 



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've got a lot of leeway here. What I want is for you to do some real comparative politics.  Pick two nations and compare some political, social, or economic change within them.  For the given subject you picked, what are the similarities and differences between the two nations and the causes of those similarities and differences. 

How do I define Asia geographically: anything from Afghanistan and Pakistan in the West to Japan in the East to Australia and New Zealand in the South to Mongolia in the North.  If you have questions about this, let me know.   What kind of issues am I looking for?  Anything you find interesting is fine with me as long as I approve it.  Try to limit this to more recent events or trends, preferably since 1980.  Try to pick as narrow a topic as you can.  I can help you with this.  For example, a comparison of economic policies in Japan and South Korea is too broad a topic.  That’s a book, not a paper.  A comparison of anti-trust policies in Japan and South Korea is more like it.  A comparison of the decline of Congress Party in India to the decline of the KMT in Taiwan might be too big as well.  This you could tweak to compare the fate of these parties in the most recent election.  It gets you at the subject you’re interested in, but in a more manageable way.  All kinds of issues are potential topics.  Here are some examples:  comparison of Islamic political parties in Indonesia and Malaysia; comparison of women’s participation in government in any two nations; comparison of any two nations trade with another major nation (Japan, China, the US); comparison of the security of military relationships between any two nations and the big players in the region (US, China, Russia, India, Japan); a comparative study of the role of the military in politics in any two nations (this is not relevant for all nations); the relationship between ASEAN and some of the larger players in the region; civil liberties policies in any two nations; tariff policies of any two nations; some specific aspect of health care systems in any two nations; minority rights in any two nations; regionalism as a factor in politics in any two nations electoral outcomes; political participation in any two nations; voting turnout in any two nations.  Get the topic to me and then we can tinker with it to make it as interesting and as doable as possible.  

Here’s an example. Let’s say you handed me this as a paper topic: Religion in Politics in India and Indonesia.  This is a huge topic.  I would tell you to narrow this down.  So you could narrow it down in the following ways:

·         religious-based political parties

·         major political parties attitude toward religion

·         political mobilization by major religious organizations

·         voting patterns by various religious groups

·         the impact of religious issues during the most recent elections



On the date indicated on the syllabus you should turn in a one-paragraph outline of your chosen topic. It should include the following:

  • what question you are asking;
  • how you will attempt to answer that question;
  • A small bibliography including four sources you might use

The purpose of this is to let me know what you are working on. This way I can help steer you in the right direction, warn you about troubles you may encounter, and generally deal with any questions you might have.


What is comparative politics and how do I write a “comparative” paper?

            For lots of detail on Comparative Politics, read the short essay on the Comparative Method that is linked to the syllabus and linked here (Newmann, "The Comparative Method." It is an assigned reading for the first week.

            The basic issue for research in comparative politics is to pay attention to your methodology. It’s actually very simple, but generally ignored.  How do you compare things?  A simple example let’s say you’re comparing oranges and basketballs.  You’ve chosen to compare them using shape and color. They’re both round and orange.  They are exactly the same.  Research done.  “In conclusion, oranges and basketballs are absolutely identical, except in the case of the American Basketball Association, which used red, white, and blue balls.  The ABA, however, folded after the 1976 season.  Since then, scholars have been unable to develop meaningful methods to distinguish between basketballs and oranges.”  Okay, maybe we need to think a bit more deeply about the categories we use to compare them.  That’s the key.  In doing comparative research, you’re searching for ways to highlight similarities and differences, so you need to find categories for comparison that highlight the important similarities and differences.  These are essentially questions you are asking.   For oranges and basketballs, better categories of comparison (or better questions to ask) might be their size and, most importantly, their purpose.  So you’re asking two questions: What are similarities or differences in the size of oranges and basketballs?  You’re asking: what are the similarities and differences in the purposes of oranges and basketballs? Oranges are small; basketballs are larger.  More importantly, oranges are fruits for eating and basketballs are for playing a sport.  Their purpose is the difference.  This is a silly example, but it makes the point: finding good categories for comparison matters.

            Let’s say your topic was Malaysian and Indonesia trade relations with Singapore.  You need to find good categories of comparison so this doesn’t become just a bunch of statistics.  As you do your research you’ll gain knowledge about the trade relationships and you’ll find the important elements of their trade.  In this case, a good set of categories for comparison would be: multilateral and bilateral trade relations.  Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore are all parts of ASEAN.  ASEAN is deeply involved in developing greater trade among its members and reducing tariffs and non-tariff barriers.  One category for comparison would be multilateral trade relations.  The question is how do Malaysia and Indonesia operate within ASEAN and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum?  In ASEAN and APEC debates is Malaysia allied with or arguing with Singapore?  In ASEAN and APEC debates is Indonesia allied with or arguing with Singapore?  The second category would be bilateral trade relations.  This is a comparison of Malaysian trade relations with Singapore and Indonesian trade relations with Singapore.  But this might be a bit big and fuzzy, so you may want to define that category a bit better: Have there been any trade controversies between Malaysia and Singapore or between Indonesia and Singapore? Are they trying to eliminate tariffs? Are there products that they maintain trade barriers on?  The paper then has sections where you answer the questions, you use the categories of comparison to form the organization of your paper. Then your paper might have this type of organization:

·         Introduction

·         Indonesia in Multilateral Forums

·         Malaysia in Multilateral Forums

·         Indonesian-Singapore Trade Issues

·         Malaysia-Singapore Trade Issues

·         Conclusions


Here’s another topic: Rural vs Urban Voting Patterns in Thailand and Japan.  You want to see if there have been changes in those voting patterns since the late 1980s/early 1990s.  As you research the topic you’ll begin to see some good categories of comparison, such as:

·         Results of rural and urban voting since the late 1980s (Are there any identifiable patterns of urban and rural voting in Japan and Thailand?)

·         Party identification of rural and urban voters (Do urban and rural voters identify with a single party or a set of parties?)

·         Key issues for rural vs. urban voters (Are there specific issues that rural voters prioritize or that urban voters prioritize?)

So let’s say you pick the first two categories.  You’ll wind up with a paper that has the following organization.

·         Introduction

·         Voting Patterns of Rural and Urban Voters in Parliamentary Elections since 1990 (he category of comparison or the question asked)

o   The Traditional Rural Vote vs. the Urban Middle Class

o   Japan: Traditional dominance of rural voters (The answer for the Japan case)

·         Party Identification

o   Thailand: Red Shirt vs. Yellow Shirt (the answer for the Thailand case)

o   Japan: LDP vs. a Two-Party System (The answer for the Japan case)

·         Conclusions


Of course, ask me for help on this if you have questions. That’s why I’m here.


Rough Drafts

            Up until the rough draft deadline indicated on the syllabus I will look at anything you’d like me to look at regarding the paper.  Anything from outlines, bibliographic sources, or even completed drafts can be turned in for comment up until that date.  I will go over what you have, mark it up, and if you like give you a hypothetical grade.  You can then make revisions based on my comments.



  • The paper is due at the beginning of class on the due date in hard copy. Please send me an email version also.
  • The paper must be 8-10 pages.  That is the minimum and target, but you may write more.  If you’re learning and having fun as you write, feel free to write as much as you want.
  • You must use at least ten sources.  The assigned readings above do not count as part of the ten sources.
  • At least half of your sources must be from journals or books, rather than web sites.
  • None of the assigned readings for the class count as a source.  You can use them, but they do not count as part of the ten sources required. 
  • Wikipedia cannot be used as one of the ten sources.  It is an encyclopedia and encyclopedias were off limits as research sources when you were in High School.  In other words: don’t use Wikipedia as a source. Do not use other web-based encyclopedias either. Oh and don’t use Wikipedia as a source.
  • Information must be cited (see below).  Use endnotes, footnotes, or parenthetical references.  It doesn’t matter which style you use, but you absolutely must use a standard accepted scholarly style for citations.  If you do not, “you will regret it, maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your life” (Casablanca, 1943).  See Below in details.
  • Use proper endnote and bibliographic format on your paper or your grade will suffer badly, as in you will likely start with a 70 if your paper is otherwise excellent (imagine me jumping up and down as I write this). (So far, he’s said the same thing at least three times.  Maybe it’s important…)
  • The citations must include page numbers if available indicating where in the source you found the information.  Many web sources do not have page numbers, but for books or journals, this is absolutely crucial (and I can’t emphasize this enough!!!!!!!  If you have any questions about this, ask me.  If you do this wrong, you will face eternal damnation.)
  • If you have questions, talk to me sooner rather than later.



            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. Start with books in the library. Use a keyword search in the library catalogue.  There is an advanced search function there that will allow you to put in several key words.  For example, if you’re researching internet censorship in Malaysia and Singapore, you might use key words that combine “Malaysia” with “internet”; “social media”; “censorship”; “technology” and then use the same set of combinations for “Singapore” or “Asia” or “Southeast Asia” to get edited volumes that may have a chapter on Singapore or Malaysia. Use different key word combinations.

2.      Use the Library: Really!!!!  Here’s what I mean: Library

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

4.      Don’t start your research with a general google search.  That will get you a thousand sources, but the quality of the sources is really in question: everything from a Wikipedia page that might have inaccuracies to a middle school paper on the issue that a teacher required students to post on line to a piece of political propaganda which deliberately gives you false information as way of bashing someone’s political enemies.  It wastes your time.  A search like this may be useful just to give a broad background on a subject. It may help you find the right keywords to use in the scholarly resources.  Try it yourself.  Do a general google search using a set of keywords then compare that to a scholar.google.com search with the same key words.  The first is not so useful, the second gives you about ¾ of the info you need for your paper in under one second.

  1. Don’t 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 want.  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 half dozen journal articles on that subject).  For example, if there is a 400 page book on the Clinton administration’s trade policy with two chapters on China, it would be a quicker way to a lot of information than a google search and 1700 different web pages with a paragraph on something related to Bill Clinton and China. 

6.      Many journals are available through the VCU system and you can search through the VCU library, but you may also try Google Scholar (There it is again. Freaky).  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.  One way to use google.scholar is to use key words for the president, the issue, and then the name of one of the journals listed below.  After doing that, then a search under the president and the issue might get you some other sources, but they are likely not as good.  So, for example, search under “India, Trade, Asian Survey” and you get a boatload of articles from Asian Survey and other journals as well.  A full list of journals is below.

7.      Citation Tracing: Don’t forget one of the best ways to find good sources. Say you found a great article on exactly the issue you’re researching.  That article will have footnotes, endnotes, parenthetical references, and a bibliography.  Find those articles and books.  Use them.  They are almost guaranteed to be useful because the author of the great article you just read must have found them useful.

8.      Journals: Some of the best journals on Asia include the following.  The VCU libraries have almost all of these in text or available on line). The best are indicated with an asterisk

·         ******Asian Survey (Best in the world; start here)

·         ASEAN Economic Bulletin

·         Asian Affairs

·         Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies

·         China: An International Journal

·         China Economic Journal

·         *The China Quarterly

·         The China Journal

·         *Chinese Journal of International Relations (Chinese perspectives)

·         Contemporary Japan

·         *Contemporary Southeast Asia

·         The Copenhagen Journal of Asian Studies

·         Electronic Journal of Contemporary Japanese Studies

·         European Journal of East Asian Studies

·         The Journal of Asian Studies

·         India Journal of Asian Affairs

·         India Review

·         Indian Journal of Political Science

·         Indonesia

·         *International Relations of the Asia-Pacific

·         *Issues and Studies (China and Taiwan)

·         Journal of Asian History

·         The Journal of Asian Studies

·         Journal of Chinese Political Science

·         Journal of Contemporary China

·         Journal of Current Chinese Affairs

·         Journal of East Asian Studies

·         The Journal of Korean Studies

·         Journal of the Oriental Society of Australia

·         Journal of Southeast Asian Studies

·         *Japan Review

·         Modern Asian Studies

·         Modern China

·         *Pacific Affairs

·         Political Economy Journal of India

·         Sino-Japanese Studies

·         Social Science Journal Japan

·         Southeast Asian Affairs

·         Southeast Review of Asian Studies

·         Stanford Journal of East Asian Affairs


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”).

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:

·         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.

·         Easy Bib

·         Bibme

·         Purdue OWL (Online Writing Workshop)

·         Chicago Manual of Style Quick Guide

·         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.

·         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.


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.


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. 

  • Never do this:Gabriel Weimann, a Professor of Communications at Haifa University, states in his book Terror on the Internet that the internet enhances terrorist power to organize and recruit.”
  • Never do this: “According to Weimann, terrorists use the internet to recruit.”
  • Instead do this:The internet enhances terrorist power to organize and recruit (Weimann, p. 312)” or add the footnote or endnote for Weimann here.  The citations are there so you don’t have to include the author’s info in the text.  That just takes up space, clutter sup you writing, and is not scholarly.


Citing 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. Another example: you would not need to cite that Chinese economic reforms were first announced at the Third Plenum of the 11th Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, but if you included information on why Hua Guofeng’s attempt to establish his own Mao-like authority had failed in part because his economic reform plan was not farsighted enough and why this failure allowed Deng to push his reform plan through the Central Committee, you’d need to cite the source (Schram 1984, 417) or use a footnote[1] or endnote[1]

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…) (Please don’t use the natural sciences-style that merges the bibliography and citations.  This format lists the sources in a bibliography and numbers them, then cites information in the text by listing the number of the source used in the bibliography.  That format is for natural sciences and I have never seen it used in any Political Science journal.  Since this is Political Science, you should learn how Political Science works.

  • You can have more than one source cited in a single footnote or endnote.  Really!! I often cite five or six sources in a single citation if necessary.  Just list them and separate each source by a semicolon.
  • A web address is never enough for a citation from the web.  If you just provide a web address in a citation and no other identifying information expect to get a C, at best, on your paper.
  • The footnote or endnote should come at the end of the sentence, except in cases where you have several ideas in one sentence which come from different sources and you think it is important to identify the sources very specifically.
  • When you have cited something specific information from a source you must cite the exact page number where you found the information.  This way if you cite information that you found in a 450 page book or a 30 page article, the reader knows where to look if he/she wants more information on the issue. Just citing the entire source is not very helpful.  Who wants to scan through 450 pages to find the information?  (Hey.  He said this already, a few paragraphs above, maybe it’s important.)
  • The only time you do not need page numbers is if they are unavailable (as in the case of some web sources) or if you are citing an entire book or article.  This is done in cases where you may be citing background information on a subject.
  • If you have several sentences with very specific information and that information all comes from the same source, you may place the citation at the end of the paragraph and the reader will understand that the information from the paragraph all comes from the same source.  Don’t forget the page numbers.

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:

  • your topic; or the question you are answering if you set up the issue that way
  • how you will answer the question
  • what are the basic answers to the questions regarding your issue -- your conclusions

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:


This essay examines the levels of media freedoms in Indonesia and Malaysia.  For each nation, levels of government interference in print, television, and internet media are compared.  In particular, special attention will be given to the changes in news media freedom during the recent political transitions: from dictatorship to democracy in Indonesia since 1998 and from the leadership of Mahathir Mohammed to Abdullah Badawi then Najib Razak in Malaysia.  Both nations are experiencing more press freedom than they have in the past.  In particular, Indonesia’s courts are striking down governmental attempts to sue media centers for reports critical of the government.  In Malaysia, internet news is making attempts to censor the press nearly impossible.  However, after improvement in press freedoms under Prime Minister Abdullah, the government of Prime Minister Najib has implemented many policies that inhibit media freedoms.  At its most basic level, the difference between the two nation’s media environment is the difference between a nation becoming more democratic (Indonesia) and a nation still clinging to some authoritarian traditions (Malaysia).


You will then have a paper with subheadings such as this:

·         Introduction

·         Media freedom under Suharto in Indonesia

·         Media freedom under Mahathir in Malaysia

·         Media and the Democratic Transition in Indonesia

·         Media and the Post-Mahathir Governments

·         Conclusions: Media Freedom in Indonesian Democracy and Malaysian Soft Authoritarianism


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.



1.      Try not to use quotes.  I want your writing, not anyone else’s.  If there is a great quote from a direct participant in the event, or an official document, 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.  I’d be sad and after you see your grade, you’ll be sad too.

2.      Important: 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.

3.      Do not give me a sentence in your paper that quotes that information directly from the source.  For example, don’t quote like this: “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.

4.      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. 

5.      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. 

6.      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 citation 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: “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, footnote, or parenthetical reference here which cites Grimm’s book and the page number in it where the information is found). 

7.      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.

8.      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 Clinton administration’s decision to grant China permanent most favored nation trading status. First, the Clinton administration is accused of hypocrisy, campaigning on a human rights platform only to abandon it once in power and satisfying the business community revealed itself as the real priority (Barton 1994, 1-34). Second, China experts argue that Clinton learned during his first year of office that sanctions on China would accomplish very little and only slow and steady engagement would ultimately improve China’s human rights situation over the long term (Rogers 1997, 17-29). A third argument focuses on the internal bargaining within the administration and the ability of President Clinton’s economic advisers to best a human-rights first collation of advisers from the State Department and NSC staff (Romanoff 2000, 307-332). Each of these arguments has merit. A combination of the second and third arguments that emphasizes Bill Clinton’s learning process holds the most explanatory power.


The article would then outline the theories of Barton, Rogers, and Romanoff, analyze each one, and then develop the fourth theory. There is no problem as long as Barton, Rogers, and Romanoff get credited with developing their theories, and the fourth theory is yours. If the fourth theory belongs to a fourth author (Banner? Stark? Hill?), the author should be credited 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. 


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!) (And it’s in bold, and italics, and red; maybe I should pay attention to this.)

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.  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. 

            Talk to me if you are having some medical, family 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 some kind of computer problem, and you are not writing your paper at the last minute, let me know.  Maybe I can help.


[1] Stuart Schram. “Economics in Command? Ideology and Policy since the Third Plenum, 1979-1984.” The China Quarterly 99 (September 1984): 417.

[1] Stuart Schram. “Economics in Command? Ideology and Policy since the Third Plenum, 1979-1984.” The China Quarterly 99 (September 1984): 417.