World Prehistory - Anthro 325 - Spring 2000

Research Paper Assignment

A research paper makes up 25% of the course grade. Here is what you should do:

Subject and approach: You may pick any subject you wish that is related to world prehistory. Please discuss your plans with me before investing too much effort, to make sure that the subject is appropriate and feasible.

By the time you are ready to write, you should have a clear thesis statement in mind. This will give your whole paper a direction and a goal: to convince the reader that the thesis is correct. Good papers often focus on an issue or a debate, or support some claim using archaeological evidence. This allows you to explain arguments and use the facts, rather than just report them. A research paper is more than a compilation of facts; it must synthesize them into some overall pattern, explain something, and/or come to some reasonably well supported conclusion. If there are differing opinions on some issue, a good paper explains how the opinions differ, what evidence and arguments support and undermine each, and, ideally, why one seems most likely to be correct. If there is no such ready-made controversy, a good paper still uses the evidence to show why the generally accepted interpretations are probably correct. Despite all the details below, the most important thing is that you write a convincing, interesting argument and explanation based on good archaeological information.

Length: Around ten pages of text, although you may run over if you wish. References, illustrations, and other materials are in addition to the text.

Outline due date: You should have a working thesis, preliminary bibliography, and a sketch outline to hand in on Thursday, April 27. You need not have reached your conclusion or written any text, but you must have found some usable sources and established generally what you are going to discuss. You are not committed to this thesis, outline, or these sources; you may adjust them later if necessary.

Paper due date: The last meeting of class before the final exam: Thursday, May 18.

Drafts: I will gladly comment on sources, outlines, or drafts at any point.

Format: Please type or computer print your paper, using 10 to 12 point type (this page is in 12 point type), double spaced lines, and reasonable margins.

Sources: Your paper should be based on at least six sources, and preferably more. I understand that library resources are limited here. Even so, try to use primary sources (books and journal articles related to the subject) as much as possible. Limited use of scholarly references like "The Oxford Encyclopedia of Archaeology in the Near East" is acceptable. Textbooks are sources of last resort. They may help you understand the background of your subject, and are useful for suggesting primary sources, but please try not to cite any. Also avoid popular magazines like Time except for new research presented as news, since that may be difficult to find published elsewhere. Try to find at least some sources that are under 15 years old. Avoid depending too heavily on sources from before the 60's, although older work is OK if you find more recent sources that treat is as still being current.

Be very critical of all material on the internet. In addition to some excellent information, lots of material ranging from incorrect to absurd is also posted on the web. Consider the source before accepting either the facts or the interpretations presented.

On or off the internet, you can often evaluate sources to some extent based on their presentation. Be careful of:

Feel free to ask me if you are uncertain about internet or other sources. The reference librarians and I will be happy to try to help you find sources if you are having trouble.

Style: Your writing should be grammatically correct, properly spelled, and in appropriately academic style. More important, I expect your arguments to be logical, clearly explained, and supported by specific evidence where appropriate. Avoid using more than a bare minimum of direct quotations. It is much better to rephrase information in your own words to suit your needs, although naturally you still must indicate the source of the information.

Use every piece of information and quotation for a reason; don't just pile up information for its own sake. Be able to explain why a given fact or phrase is included. What does it add to your argument at this point? Why is it relevant? How does it support your case? The reader should immediately understand why you are bringing the fact up.

Things I will look for:

A clear thesis statement

Evidence and arguments

Conclusion based on them

Correct spelling

Correct grammar

Correct treatment of quotations

Correct citations in text

Every fact is referenced

Every quotation is referenced

At least 6 good sources

Correct reference list

Every reference is cited

Citation and reference format: Papers must include bibliographic references in the text, with a list of all the references cited at the end of the paper. Please use the standard bibliographic format described below for references and citations in the text. This is a format commonly used in anthropology and archaeology publications, and it can accommodate internet sources as well as paper ones. The purpose of these formats is to enable the reader (in this case, me) to evaluate the evidence that supports your arguments, and to follow up on interesting claims. It also keeps you honest and helps prevent factual mistakes, since if you can't show where a bit of information came from, you probably shouldn't rely on it anyway.

Citations in the text: All direct quotations must be enclosed in quotation marks and have the bibliographic source indicated. Even if you paraphrase the information, you must still give the source. All factual information that is not common knowledge and has not been discovered by you personally, whether quoted or rephrased, must also have the bibliographic source indicated. Common knowledge does not include most of the archaeological data and theories in this course, nor does it include much of what you find in reference books. You must also provide the source for any illustrations you use.

In the format for this course, you should include the last name of the author, year of publication, and page number directly in your text between parentheses, as in (Emery 1991:42). If a book has been republished, the year is the latest one listed. Multiple pages are shown as (Hyslop 1984:116-137). Sources with two authors are shown as (Johnson and Earle 1987:10). Sources with three or more authors are shown with just the first author named, as in (Sanders et al. 1979:121). The full details of all sources referenced in the text appear in a list of references at the end of the paper. Citations in the text belong at the end of the sentence or phrase that came from that source. For example:

Enormous quantities of crude beveled-rim bowl fragments have been found at Uruk sites (Wenke 1990:338). These bowls, though "surely one of the ugliest ceramic types ever made" (Wenke 1990:338), appear to be the first mass-produced, standardized, disposable containers ever made (Adams 1960:9).

If the information in several sentences comes from a single source, include the reference only once, at the end of the information. For example:

The Mature Indus civilization extended over almost 500,000 square miles. Harappa and Mohenjo-daro are the two largest well-known sites, possibly political capitals, while a number of similar but smaller sites seem to be subsidiary centers. Several of the major sites share a similar city plan, with a raised "citadel" and a lower residential area (Allchin and Allchin 1982:167-171).

If information from several sources is mixed into one sentence or paragraph, citing each one after every bit of information could distract from the flow of the writing. In this case, it is acceptable to lump the references together at the end of the sentence or paragraph, separated by semicolons. For example:

A large Early or Middle Shang site at the modern city of Zhengzhou was surrounded by a massive rammed-earth wall that is estimated to have required 200,000 man-years to build. The wall may have been more to restrict access to the elite residential and ceremonial zone than for literal defense (Barnes 1993:126; Chang 1986:331-339; Whitehouse and Wilkins 1986:70).

Exercise judgment when lumping references in this way. Piling all the references at the end of every paragraph is rarely appropriate. This method is never acceptable for direct quotations, which should always have the reference immediately after the quoted material.

It sometimes helps the flow of your writing to refer directly to an author by name. In this case, only the date and page number go in parentheses. For example, "According to Prescott (1961:254), the Inka Atahuallpa's translator worked against him."

You must actually read the sources you cite. Do not list citations from other works if you have not been able to find them yourself. If you want to cite a fact or quotation that is given in another work and you cannot find the original reference, do so honestly by writing something like "Smith estimated that the site had 2000 inhabitants (cited in Jones 1992:143)." In this case, Jones (1992:143) is your reference.

Material from the World Wide Web should also be cited correctly. In the text, give the author and year, just as for any other reference. You may have to search on other pages to find the author's name; there is often a separate "credits" page, or a page about the author. The author may be an institution, like Encyclopedia Britannica, if no person is specified. The date is preferably one specified on the page itself. If no date is given, use the date that you looked at the page.

List of references: After the text of the paper, include an alphabetized list of references titled "References". Every reference in this list must be cited at least once in the text; do not include sources you looked at for general background but did not actually use. You may write out first names of authors, or just use initials, but be consistent. Book and journal titles are italicized, but chapter and article titles are not, so that each published reference has a single italicized title. A typical book reference looks like:

Wenke, Robert J.

1990 Patterns in Prehistory, Humankind's First Three Million Years. Third edition. Oxford University Press, New York.

A typical journal article reference has the volume (often the year number) of the journal, with the issue number in parentheses, followed by a colon and the pages of the article. For example:

Adams, Robert M.

1960 The Origin of Cities. Scientific American 203(3):153-168.

The example above is an article in volume 203 of Scientific American, issue 3 (probably March), pages 153-168, published in 1960.

If there are multiple authors, only the first one is shown last-name first. The rest are in normal order, in the order given in the publication. For example:

Whittaker, John, and Michael Stafford

1999 Replicas, Fakes, and Art: The Twentieth-Century Stone Age and Its Effects on Archaeology. American Antiquity 64(2):203-214.

Web pages should also be included in the list of references. The general format is:

Author's Last Name, First Name

Year "Title of Page". In "Title of Web Site". <internet address>. <Full date>.

Khan, Omar

1997 "Harappa: Introduction". In "Harappa". January 19, 1997.