PEM Index Page
History 3220
Paper Instructions
Fall 2014

Mokyr paper specifics:

Two choices:

  1. Take an technology that Mokyr discusses and research it further.  Make an argument about the relationship between technology and economic growth using the technology you have picked.  Your paper must include both specific information from Mokyr's book and details that you found in outside sources, with references provided for both.
  2. Take a piece of Mokyr's theory (not the whole thing), such as the idea that war is bad for technological progress.  Half your paper should discuss Mokyr's theory, with discussion of how he supports his argument.  The other half should apply that theory to a more-recent example, and conclude whether the theory works or not for your example.  For example, does Mokyr's argument about war and economic growth fit World War II?  Make sure to tackle only one more recent example, and it should be no broader than World War II (in many cases it will work better to go narrower).

General Instructions:
About half the content of your paper should be specifics from the book, about half should be from your own research. Higher grades will go to papers that exhibit logical thinking, an analytical framework, specific evidence, the ability to inform and communicate, sound organization, and a concise and coherent argument.  All parts of your paper must include specific factual information from your research, not just your own impressions.   I expect you to come to your own conclusion (and so you are allowed to use "I").

Instructions on paper format:
Your paper should be 4-5 double spaced typed pages (1000 to 1200 words) and include a references in a standard form (MLA, Chicago, or APA).  It should be printed out double-spaced with your name and course information at the top.  
Papers must be handed in via Blackboard, screened by the Turnitin plagiarism detection system.  (This system does keep a copy of your paper--if you have a problem with that please speak to the professor.)  Late papers will be penalized two points if handed in later than the due date and an additional two points for each calendar day late (so a paper two days late would lose six points).  

You must provide footnotes or references to your sources (not just for quotes but also for specific information and arguments) in the text of the paper and provide at the end an overall list of the sources you used to write your paper (you may include sources that you read and found useful but did not cite in the text). You must use either MLA, APA, or Chicago format for references--papers that fail to use one of those formats and use it correctly will be penalized.  You can find standard formats at:  Writers Handbook

Be careful to avoid plagiarism.  The syllabus states:

It is cheating to cut and paste or otherwise copy portions of a argument paper, exam, or discussion board posting from a book, web site, or from the online class notes, even if you change a few words, unless the words are quoted and the source is given.  It is poor writing for more than about 20% of your paper to consist of quotes.  In most cases when you use specific material from any source you should paraphrase: cite the source and put the ideas into you own words (generally no more than 5 consecutive words should match the source but if the words are mostly the same it could still be plagiarism even if there aren't 5 consecutive words).

Checklist for a good paper:

  1. Does your introduction explain the argument (analysis) you will make?
  2. Does your paper address all parts of the assignment?
    1. Do you explain a specific idea from the reading, with details of an example to show how it works
    2. Do you give specifics of your outside example
    3. Do you explain how your example fits the idea
  3. Do you explain your argument at each step?  (never leave the reader to draw his or her own conclusions)
  4. Is your specific evidence selected to fit your particular points rather than telling random facts?
  5. Have you found specific examples or statistics to prove your points rather than simply asserting them?  Have you pinned the events you discuss down to specific dates and places and shown how things changed over time?
  6. Are the sources of specific points acknowledged with references, footnotes, or endnotes, even if paraphrased rather than quoted?
  7. Do you have a bibliography or list of sources set up in a correct form?
  8. Have you proofread, looking particularly for those mistakes that a spell-checker doesn't catch?  Remember also that the best grammar checkers are right only 80% of the time.

Gies Paper specifics: take an example of one medieval technology.  Find other sources on that technology and explain its development in more detail than the book does for about half your paper. In the other half of your paper, discuss the interaction of the technology you have chosen with society.  You must give specific historical examples, not just speculation. It will probably be easier to focus on the impact of technology on society, but if you prefer you can focus on the impact of society on technology.