Writing in the Tutorial
One vital objective of each tutorial is "To give special attention to
writing and critical analysis". Thus, work for this tutorial includes
several short research exercises, four papers, and an exercise on
quotation, paraphrasing, and citation. While the research exercises will
be distributed in class, the following describes the academic honesty
exercise and the paper assignments in more detail. In each case, these
exercises relate directly to material discussed in class.
|| Title and Description
|| Due Date
||Ethical dimensions of a computing application
||Due Tuesday, September 23|
(Report topic by Thursday, September 11)
|Practice for Quotation, Paraphrase, and Attribution
||Due Tuesday, September 30
||Computer Errors and
The Risks Digest
||Due Tuesday, October 14|
(Report topic by Tuesday, October 7)
||Computing and Public Policy
||Due Thursday, November 13|
(Report topic by Thursday, November 6)
||Library Research and Report
||Draft Due Tuesday, December 2|
(Report topic by Tuesday, November 25)
Some Notes on Writing Papers
In short, both form and substance are needed for good reviews or a good
grade. One is unlikely to do well with all form with no substance, but
success is equally unlikely with substance but poor form. Often there is
tendency to shortchange the importance of form, but this rarely produces
Use an idea as the basis for an effective paper.
You must have something to say.
This requires adequate research/background.
You need to have thought about the topic, but
the idea need not be earthshaking.
Just find an idea you find interesting.
Pay attention to the appearance of your paper;
while a nice appearances does not guarantee a good grade, a sloppy
paper is likely to receive a lower grade.
Spelling/punctuation/grammar errors undermine your credibility.
Although word processors can review the spelling of common words,
you must review suggestions carefully. You, not the word processor,
are responsible for your work.
Turn off automatic spelling correction in word processors; experience
suggests that not all automated changes are correct.
Even worse, sloppiness suggests you don't care, so why should the reader?
On the other side, a paper that looks nice sends the message
that you care and are interested.
Calvin of "Calvin and Hobbes" once said that a clear plastic binder would
guarantee him a good grade. While this is overstated, do not dismiss this
out of hand.
All this suggests that
use of a spelling checker should be considered mandatory, and
proofreading a paper a few times is essential.
Spend enough time organizing, writing, editing, and polishing your ideas.
A paper is the only evidence the reader has on how much you have done.
20-30 hours of research and thought cannot be explained by writing for only an
hour or two.
At the other extreme, people vote for politicians with smooth speeches,
even if there is little content.
Even faculty may not be immune from the lure of polished writing.
Write your introduction (e.g., the introductory paragraph) to identify the
topic, place the topic in a context, and indicate the structure of the paper.
Place the topic in context, but do not over-generalize.
State your thesis clearly and concisely.
Since the rest of your paper explains and justifies your thesis, the
introduction should indicate how the following explanation or logical
argument is organized.
Structure your argument, so that each paragraph has a unifying theme.
Each paragraph should contain a clearly stated, topic sentence.
All other components of the paragraph should related directly to that
Think about each topic enough, so you have something to say. A paragraph
with only two or three sentences often indicates the author should think
more deeply about the topic.
Structure your sentences to make your point clearly, concisely, and
State what you mean directly. (Using words in "quotes" often indicates a
lack of clarity -- use the words you mean.)
State your ideas completely, but do not repeat over and over and over
Use active verbs whenever possible to propel the reader forward. Sentences
often can be tightened if they are rewritten to replace passive verbs and
linking verbs with active ones.
Helpful Hint: For many scholars, the combination of substance
and form requires at least two steps:
A draft is written with the desired content given in considerable detail.
Often this draft is 1.5 to 2 times the desired length for the finished
Edit the draft repeatedly to tighten the prose, reducing redundancy,
strengthening sentences, clarifying wording, and perhaps even adding
newly identified examples or details.
In this process, step A focuses on content, and the author takes care
to include as much material as possible. Step B then polishes the
presentation. In cases when the first draft is significantly longer
than the desired final product, Step B provides a mechanism to
improve the clarity, forcefulness, and flow of the presentation.
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