The course is seeking to prepare you for higher level scholarship. As a result, while there are some instructions on how to complete the term paper, the choice for how to proceed is yours, and the proposal is an opportunity to lay out that choice. Students will be expected to devise their own research question examining a contested issue in the Criminal Justice System from a criminological perspective. You will want to submit a clear research question that focuses on a topic of personal interest. You may use one of the contested issues we discuss in the course, or an outside contested issue.
The proposal is the stage where the instructor will be able to provide feedback and direction on the research question, but it can also help to meet with the instructor in advance of proposal submission to ensure you are on the right track.
Proposals require that students complete significant preliminary research on their contested issue. It requires that students have completed enough research to demonstrate knowledge of the areas of contest.
Proposals are brief, demonstrate that preliminary research has been completed, must have citations and should be comprised of:
1) a statement of topic and a relevant research question (i.e. a thesis statement),
2) a draft introductory paragraph that addresses the research question (must have citations),
3) an outline that includes
a. a plan for obtaining enough information to appraise the contentious issue in question (and this plan should be more developed than “I will use library resources”), and
b. draft headings with preliminary discussion of the heading (do not use point form) that show the direction of the term paper, and
4) a preliminary bibliography listing at least four sources from outside the course materials, plus all relevant course readings. These should be cited throughout the proposal.
The draft introductory paragraph and draft headings with preliminary discussion must include proper citations. Proposals submitted without any cited work will receive a zero.
The proposal is the initial step toward completing the term paper. It is perhaps worth having a look at the MLS module on the term paper and planning accordingly and/or the Laurier Writing Services website and resources. There are several supplemental readings and some suggestions on what makes a good term paper in a course such as this one. This term paper will not be a conventional research paper, where the author takes a deep dive into some topic. Instead, the idea is to present the nature of the contestation – find people, preferably in the popular / news media /
activist circles who are arguing over some issue in the CJS and undertake an analysis of their “claims-making”. We should not be occupied with what we think is contested and what is not, but rather look to those who are contesting these things and see how they are doing it.
The proposal is not an optional assignment. A proposal must be submitted to be able to submit a term paper.
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