The Contribution Paper is a formal academic argument that contributes something to the conversation in which you have developed expertise over the semester. This paper will include a shortened version of the literature review that you have already written. You'll use a review of the literature as a way of situating your argument in the conversation and showing your reader that you understand the conversation that is going on and that you have something to add to it. All of the claims you make must be grounded in good evidence, which will come from the sources that you have been working with for the last few weeks.
Remember that your goal is to simply add something valuable to the conversation. You do not need to solve the problem. Lots of really smart people have been talking and writing about your issue, so you don't have to discover an answer or solution that they haven't. But you may have discovered a new way to think about one part of the problem, and that is worth writing about.
Audience: Because you are joining a conversation with this paper, your primary audience is made up of those also interested in the same topic or body of research: the authors and readings you have cited, and your collaboration group. You'll review the conversation for this audience in order to situate your own paper--to show how your paper contributes to the conversation. This academic audience expects a paper that uses the conventions of academic writing: claims supported by good evidence, formal tone, logical connections between ideas, paragraphs structured around topics that move the reader smoothly and logically through the paper, a thesis in the first section of the paper, in-text parenthetical citations, works cited, titles and headings, etc.
Paper Structure: The paper should follow the structure of those that you have been reading for the course, either as a part of the readings about higher education or those about your research topic.
1. It should begin with an overview of the topic in which you:
- identify the general themes and arguments of the conversation,
- identify major voices in the conversation,
- describe the important camps or ways of discussing the topic, and
- provide definitions for key terms.
The overview should help you situate your argument, your contribution. That means that you may not talk about every camp, or every theme. Instead, you'll focus on those that are the closest to your argument. These may be the camps, themes, or arguments that you are building on, either by agreeing or disagreeing with the positions. You'll also want to include those sources that provide evidence for your argument. Your thesis sentence will stem from this overview.
2. The body of the paper will be made up of your argument (contribution), organized logically so that, using the same evidence, the audience will come to the same conclusions as you. The body will be structured with sub-claims, supported by evidence, that provide support for the thesis. You may consider having multiple sub-sections in the body that will explicitly structure the progression of ideas and evidence for the reader. You must use standard in-text citations to identify the sources you are using. See OWL Purdue for help with MLA and APA formatting.
3. The conclusion of the paper needs to draw conclusions about the topic that were established in the introduction. It could also extend more broadly to implications of the research, new directions for the conversation to move in, impact to the general public, and the like.
4. Your paper must have a works cited or reference page
Format: The paper needs to be:
- 8-10 pages long, not including the works cited or reference page
- using a standard font (no courier), and
- standard margins.
I will consider the following when grading your paper
- Reasoning and Evidence: Does the writer identify a conversation, make a claim that contributes to that conversation, and support that claim through clear reasoning and credible evidence?
- Rhetorical Considerations: Does the writer demonstrate awareness of the audience he/she is writing to? Are his/her rhetorical choices effective for that audience?
- Style: Is the writing cohesive and well organized? Does the writer use a variety of sentence structures effectively?
- Mechanics: Is the paper largely free of mechanical errors (spelling, grammar, punctuation)?