Instructions for the research paper and proposal/bibliography




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BIS 482 Sexual Science: Historical and Critical Perspectives


Instructions for the research paper and proposal/bibliography
Assignment: Written research proposal with 4-item annotated bibliography (value 15%)

Due: Tues Nov 9

This assignment will ensure that you select an appropriate and manageable topic and that you conduct your research in a timely fashion. I will let you know either that your topic is approved or that you must revise your proposal to get approval. If needed I will give you feedback on sources or questions that you might investigate. The research proposal should be about 2 paragraphs long, consisting of a brief overview of your topic and the controversial issues it involves, an explanation of the question(s) that you plan to address in your research, and a provisional thesis statement – at this point what do you anticipate your main argument will be? How will you answer your research question? What is your interpretive claim? Your thesis might change as your work progresses, but having a thesis early on will help you to organize your thoughts and direct your research down productive paths. Your thesis should express your OWN conclusions about the source material you find, and should not merely rehash the conclusions reached by other scholars.

Along with the proposal hand in an annotated bibliography of 4 credible sources on your topic. Be sure to choose texts that are crucial for your project, and at least 3 of these items must be from scholarly books or journals. This exercise will force you to read carefully and think critically about the material you are finding. Each annotation should be 1 paragraph long and be both summative and evaluative. You will concisely paraphrase the author’s main points, and you will provide some critical evaluation: explain 1) how this article relates to your research question, and 2) what are the main strengths and weaknesses of this article. See .

If you do not hand in a proposal and bibliography, or if I do not approve your topic in advance of the due date, then your final essay will receive a grade of zero.


Assignment: Argumentative essay on your chosen research topic (value 30%)

Due: Mon Dec 13, 6pm, UW1-246

Length and format: 8-10 pages, typed, double-spaced, 12-point font, 1-inch margins

Your research project will culminate in a proper argumentative essay that has a thesis statement and supporting evidence. Identifying all of your sources is an essential part of an academic essay. Supply full publication information (including exact page numbers) so that I can look up all the texts you cite. Be sure to give me enough information to be able to easily locate materials you borrowed off the internet. Your paper must have copious citations to all material you utilized in defending your points; you may use either in-text parenthetical citations or foot/endnotes. Include at the end of your paper a complete bibliography of all sources cited and consulted. Give your paper a title, and number the pages.


Topic: As explained on the syllabus and discussed in class, you are free to choose your own topic of interest on some aspect of “sexual science” or “gender and science/health.” You might investigate in depth some issue covered in the required readings and discussions, or you might want to explore something related to a syllabus topic or another controversy regarding science/medicine/technology that you can persuade me has an important gender component. If at this stage of the course you are still unclear about appropriate subject matter, be sure to consult with me (and/or the librarians) before you hand in your proposal. As you work on formulating a research question about your topic, consider the various kinds of “social factors” that might influence scientific theories and medical practices. The types of issues and analyses we’re trying to get at are modelled in the feminist science studies readings we’ve looked at in class. It is your responsibility to determine what questions to ask. What are the controversial aspects of your topic? Where can you find values, beliefs, interests, etc. impacting on the way scientific knowledge is produced or applied? Why should the public be concerned about your topic? What’s at stake? What can be done to produce better science, health, and/or social policies? Obviously your primary goal is to explore specific examples of gender ideology or sexism in science/medicine. Perhaps your findings will further suggest how such biases might be remedied with science or health care based on feminist values. Also consider such factors as politics, legislation, economics, ethics, religion, racism, media representations, and so on. There are many “political” dimensions to most scientific and medical debates. Your topic should generate a multifaceted research question and thesis statement about the relationship between science and its social context.
Types of sources: Your essay should defend an original interpretive claim about your topic. You are encouraged to make substantial use of the critical literature about science, by which I mean the analyses of gendered science offered by feminist scholars, scientists, journalists, etc. But your conclusions ought not simply repeat their findings. Try to find a variety of perspectives that you can weigh and then reach your own conclusions. Make sure to do a thorough search for the existing critical scholarship, analyze it, and situate your project as part of that work. Where possible and appropriate, also search for and utilize some primary source materials, by which I mean the texts produced by people who contributed at the time to the debates/issues you are investigating. Who are the interested parties: scientists, doctors, policy makers, activists, patients/consumers, corporations, media? Where can you find their dialogues, opinions, studies: in what kinds of peer-reviewed publications and other forums? Remember that it is your job to critically evaluate all texts: ask yourself who is the author, what is her agenda, why was it written, for what audience, what evidence is it based on, etc. Check with me if you are unclear about my expectations for the research. Start your research with the required and supplementary course readings, talk with the librarians, and visit the library resource site:


Documenting sources: When writing an essay, all direct quotations, paraphrases, information, interpretations, and opinions taken from another person’s work must be identified. Providing documentation will answer your reader’s questions such as “Where did you get that?” or “Why should this claim be believed?” Use quotation marks and citations whenever you use someone else’s exact words. Citations are also required to indicate that you have borrowed ideas or facts from a particular source, even if you are not quoting from it. There must be a complete bibliography at the end of your paper.

Academic integrity: All work submitted for evaluation and course credit must be an original effort. Plagiarism means presenting the words or ideas of another person as if they were your own, for example by turning in someone else’s work or failing to document material you have quoted or borrowed. It is a serious offence and punishable under the provisions of the University’s Student Conduct Code. If you are unsure about your use of sources or are having other difficulties with your writing, please come to my office hours or make an appointment with the UWB Writing Center (425-352-5253, UW2-124). Any evidence of plagiarism, whether intentional or accidental, will result in a grade of zero for that assignment. Additional sanctions may also be imposed by the University. You are responsible for understanding all aspects of the regulations regarding academic integrity.


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