History of Engineering

Second Paper
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Research Paper
This is a similar paper to your first paper. You may pick any technology or aspect of engineering in which
you might have some interest that is POST 1500. Your paper ought to define the technology/engineering
and give its rich historical significance placing it into a broader context. To do this well you are required to
consult no fewer than four quality sources outside the assigned class materials.
Write well. That which is written in haste is read without pleasure. I have provided a document with
writing tips to consult in Canvas. Assume, since I made the tips, that I will be annoyed if I read your
paper and see contractions, first-person pronouns, etc. Remember too that the Writing Center is your
friend. Use them. Each campus has one. The paper is to be original to this class – not a recycled paper
from a previous class. The assignment is due the last week of class.
Logistics: Eight-page essay (cover page and works cited page do not count towards the eight pages).
Double spaced. Pages numbered. Cover page with name. No fewer than four quality non-class material
sources. Wiki sites, about.com and encyclopedia sites will not count towards the three needed “outside
of class” sources. Craft a strong thesis statement. Write well.
Below are guidelines to help you improve your history essay writing skills without having to relearn an
English writing manual. Read these guidelines thoroughly before writing your paper.
The Little Things That Add Up to Clear, Concise, Professional Writing:
1) Do not use the first person pronouns- we, I, us. Avoid things like, “I will show that…” or “We can see…”
Similarly, avoid using “you.” The author cannot assume anything about the reader that would warrant the
use of that pronoun. Remember too that “we” does not equal “Americans.”
2) Avoid contractions at all times. You may say “don’t” and “can’t” in conversation, but ALWAYS spell it out
when writing.
3) Write about past events in the past tense, not the present.
4) Provide citations every time you use information or ideas from another author. If you do not, it is called
plagiarism. Although historians use the Chicago Manual of Style, I will accept APA or MLA, so long as you
are consistent.
5) Avoid using absolutes. Words such as “always” and “never” are sweeping generalizations and there is a
good chance that there is an exception to your rule. Also, avoid “obvious” and its derivatives. If something is
obvious, then you have no need to state it.
6) Do not use questions in a paper. You are writing to inform your reader, not to ask the reader questions-

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even rhetorical questions.
7) Do not use “tech report writing” format. Your paragraphs should be indented and there is to be no extra
spaces between paragraphs – just like your books look.
8) Avoid colloquial language, clichés, and slang terms. You are writing a paper, not graffiti. It is best to leave
a conversational style of writing for the email.
9) Learn punctuation, especially the use of commas and semicolons. They are not arbitrary marks to be
used at whim.
10) Learn the difference between “there” and “their.” They are not interchangeable. Same goes for “lead”
verses “led.” (Look up the history of why Led Zeppelin spells their band that way.)
11) Learn the correct use of apostrophes, especially the difference between “its” and “it’s.” The second is a
contraction of “it is,” while the first is the possessive of “it.” In other words, the following is correct: “The
United States Navy used its trained crabs to win the war, and it’s a good thing.” Of course, as per rule # 2,
you would not use “it’s” in a paper because it is a contraction.
12) Avoid the passive voice. If you are writing, “would” or “could” you are most likely writing in the passive
voice. The active voice makes for a more assertive paper. (See The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr.
for an excellent explanation of passive and active voice- you can find it on-line if you do not own a copy.
13) Quotations should be used as evidence to reinforce your points. You should give both a voice to the
quote (As the historian Eric Foner explained, “….”) and explain in your words the importance of that quote to
your reader. Also, end a paragraph in your own words, not someone else’s. Do not over quote. The reader
wants to read your words and voice.
14) Book titles are in italics or underlined. Articles are in “quotation marks.”
15) Think about AUDIENCE. You are not writing directly to me. Your roommate, your spouse, or another
college student should understand your paper. Therefore explain, prove and analyze. Saying things such as,
“in the textbook…” or “as we learned on the discussion board…” or “as it was said in class lecture…” will
leave the general reader confused.
16) Above all else, organize beforehand and PROOFREAD afterwards. Silly mistakes easily corrected if
proofread greatly take away from a well-argued paper and will lower your grade. So never hand in a first
How to Make Each Part of the Essay Excellent:
A. Introduction. An introduction must give a broad statement that tells the reader the subject of the essay. In
addition, a specific thesis must be stated in the introduction telling the reader exactly what the argument is
and what evidence will be used. Generalities will not suffice. Be specific and have a point. A good
introduction will serve as the outline for your paper. The most common mistakes are to make too general a
statement that a five paragraph essay could not possibly do justice, make too long a list of things that are
never covered in the body of the paper, or make an emotional statement but fail to tell the reader on what
points you will be relying to convince her of the wisdom of your argument.
B. Body of Paper. The body of the essay should have a separate paragraph that discusses and provides the
evidence for each of your examples—one at a time. If the arguments are mixed up the reader will not find
your argument compelling. Dedicate one paragraph to each of your examples. Make sure that the body of

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your essay proves your thesis—that each example is clearly linked to your thesis and that the entire thesis
described in your introduction is covered fully in the body of the paper. The body of the essay also needs to
be organized. That is each paragraph should follow a logical pattern developing your thesis and the
information within the paragraphs needs to follow a logical order.
C. Paragraph Length. Be wary of very short (two sentences) or very long (half page or more) paragraphs. It
is important that each new idea has its own paragraph with a topic sentence, one or two sentences of
argument with a quote from a source as evidence, and a transition sentence to the next paragraph.
D. Transition Sentences. A good transition will guide your reader out of one paragraph and into the next by
signaling the next argument you will discuss in detail in the next paragraph. Transition sentences are the
glue that holds the readers’ attention as you develop your thesis. Without good transitions your style, and
ultimately your argument, will appear choppy and confused.
E. Evidence. Provide quoted evidence from the assigned sources to convince the reader with the authority
of participants in the events or experts on the subject. An argument without evidence is opinion—interesting,
but not convincing. Be sure to avoid plagiarism. Plagiarism in papers is also intolerable and grounds for
failure and even expulsion as per University policy. As explained in one writing manual:
“Your research paper is collaboration between you and your sources. To be fair and ethical, you must
acknowledge your debt to the writers of these sources. If you don’t, you are guilty of plagiarism, a serious
academic offense. Three different acts are considered plagiarism: (1) failing to cite quotations and borrowed
ideas, (2) failing to enclose borrowed language in quotation marks, and (3) failing to put summaries and
paraphrases in your own words.”
Diana Hacker, A Pocket Style Manual, 3rd Edition, (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s Press, 2000), 171.
If you are unsure what plagiarism is or how to avoid it, see me before you turn in a paper.
F. Conclusion. The conclusion of an essay should sum up your main points and convince the reader that any
reasonable person would be persuaded by your logic and evidence. It should not be a sentence or two that
says that you are done, nor should it introduce any new ideas. It should remind the reader of your position
on the question, sum up your main points and finish with an appeal to the reader’s logic.

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