Research Paper Prompts – Choose One
Due Date – Midnight, March 14
1) Author a survey/report on one of the following belief systems: Animism, Atheism, Deism, Henotheism, Monotheism, Mysticism, Pantheism, Polytheism, Theism, or Totemism. A strong paper will include a historical overview of the belief system in question (i.e., its origins and developments), concrete examples of the system in action (i.e., specific religions; their practices/beliefs), and a brief comparison with the tenets of another system for the sake of illuminating the ideas under consideration. Food for thought: What are the advantages/disadvantages of believing in multiple gods versus one god or no god?
2) Compose a survey/report on the role/status of women in one of the following traditions: Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, or Buddhism. A strong paper should narrow the discussion to one or two countries and include a discussion on the roles and rights of women in both the religious and secular spheres. Possible subtopics for this survey might include marriage, divorce, sex, menstruation, childbirth, clothing, participation in organized religion, and/or governmental service (choose two or three at most). Food for thought: Eight Muslim majority countries have elected female heads of state since 1988, but the USA has never followed suit. Are the rights and privileges of women in Christianity and Judaism, measurably better than those of Islam?
3) Author a critical review on one of the following documentaries: “Bells from the Deep,” “One of Us,” “The Hidden Art of Islam,” “Believer,” or “Unmistaken Child.” A strong paper will include a short summary of the documentary’s contents, a brief description of the history, beliefs, and practices of the religious community that is being highlighted, and a detailed commentary/analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the documentary. Food for thought: Is the portrayal of the religious community under consideration positive, negative, or neutral? How do the practices of the community in question differ from, or parallel, the religious beliefs of mainstream America? Does the documentary encourage the acceptance and understanding of religious diversity or is the film attempting to do something else?
4) Author an argumentative paper that answers the question “What is religion?” A strong paper will include a discussion on the problems associated with defining the word “religion,” detailed examples to support your arguments, and a definition for the word “religion” that is sensitive to the places where secular (i.e., non-religious) and religious activities and organizations overlap. Food for thought: Is it possible to define the word “religion?” Can “religion” be defined in a way that includes all the world’s belief systems?
General Requirements for the Paper:
1) Your name, submission date, and the name/section of the course (top of first page);
2) The paper’s title (first page; before the body of the text);
3) A thesis statement or statement of intent at the end of your first or second paragraph;
4) Page numbers throughout (except first page);
5) Double-spacing throughout (single for headers, footnotes, endnotes, and bibliography);
6) Size 12 font for the body (Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman), Size 11 for block quotes, and size 10 for footnotes/endnotes (if used);
7) 2100 to 3000 words in length (7 to 10 full pages);
8) A Bibliography (everything you have read or quoted in the course of writing the paper);
9) A minimum of 6 resources;
A (90-100) – Overall, the essay is of superior quality in most, if not all, aspects.
-Essay begins with an attention grabbing introduction and contains a clear and specific thesis in the appropriate location.
-The body paragraphs begin with topic sentences that support the thesis. A variety of evidence/support is given for the topic sentence, and transitions are used to show how the ideas connect. The body paragraphs end with concluding sentences.
-The conclusion brings the essay to a satisfactory end and does not introduce new points. It reinforces the importance of the subject and content presented.
-Essay is well organized and contains few grammar errors.
-Essay is sufficient in length and development.
B (80-89) – Essay meets or exceeds most of the established criteria.
– Introduction introduces subject, tone, and contains a clear thesis, and, at the least, attempts to be attention grabbing.
– Topic sentences are present and clear in each body paragraph. Most body paragraphs are well developed, although one or more would benefit from further development. Evidence is abundant, although a greater variety would make point(s) more clear.
Transitions are present and abundant in most areas.
– Conclusion brings essay to a satisfactory end, although it may be a bit too repetitive or may begin with a trite expression.
– Organization makes sense and advances essay.
– Grammar errors are infrequent and certainly do not detract from delivery of content/information.
C (70-79) – Essay has occasional problems mixed with successful content.
– Introduction announces subject but is otherwise uninteresting.
– Most ideas/body paragraphs are well developed, although some should be developed further. Some topic sentences are better than others, but they are all present. Some transitions between sentences are present, but more are needed.
– Conclusion is too repetitive and doesn’t effectively focus on importance of information.
– Essay would benefit from better organization, although it is not a major problem.
– Essay contains more grammar problems than it should, but these problems do not affect the overall delivery of content/information.
D (60-69) – Essay has significant problems that detract from the overall quality.
– Introduction and conclusion are short and inefficient. Thesis is present but not entirely clear.
– Not all body paragraphs and/or ideas are developed properly. Topic sentences do not control paragraphs. Transitions are sparse, if not non-existent.
– Much of the essay is unfocused and unorganized.
– Grammar problems detract from the overall content of the information.
F (0-59) – Essay is lacking in a majority of the necessary criteria.
– Thesis is non-existent or ineffective.
– Both the introduction and conclusion are ineffective.
– It lacks a clear focus, has organizational problems, and is insufficient in length and development of ideas.
– Essay contains numerous grammatical errors and, because of this, is often incoherent.