Last Lecture – Conclusions and Citation Notes

finish line long

Last Word on Citations

Rule of Thumb:

If you are not sure whether you need a citation after any particular statement in your paper, it is better to cite than not. You will not be marked down or accused of plagiarism if you have too many citations, but you could be marked down or accused of plagiarism if you have too few.

You should cite when:

  • You give statistics.
  • The information is unique and not known by most people.
  • The reader might ask, “How do you know that?”
  • You use a direct quotation from someone else.
  • You use someone else’s ideas.
  • You paraphrase a direct quotation from someone else.

You don’t need to cite when:

  • The information is commonly known (either by the general population, or commonly known within the particular discipline).
  • When most or all of your sources say the same thing on that particular point.
  • When it is your own original thought or opinion.

What if you’re not sure?

If you are not sure, as stated under “Rule of Thumb” above, it is better to include a citation. You will not be accused of plagiarism for citing something you didn’t need to.


Conclusion Strategies Review:

The Simple Summary:

What it’s for: To recap what you have said.

Use this approach when you have a long or complex essay or an instructional text that focuses on concepts.

Caution: In a short, easy to follow essay, a summary conclusion can be dull or even annoying to readers. A brief summary followed by a more artful concluding strategy can sometimes be effective.


Larger Significance Conclusion

This draws the readers’ attention to the importance to or the applications of your argument.

Good for: when you want to elaborate on the significant of your problem by showing how your proposed solution leads to understanding a larger conclusion or brings practical benefits to society.


Proposal Conclusion

Good for: Call to action, or call for future study.

Often used in analysis or argument papers, this conclusion states the action that needs to be taken. It also briefly explains its advantages over alternative actions, or it may describe its beneficial consequences.

In a call to action, if your paper analyzes the negative consequences of shifting from a graduated to a flat-rate income tax, your conclusion might recommend an action such as modifying or opposing flat taxes.

In a call for future study, your conclusion might indicate what else needs to be known or resolved before a proposal can be offered. Common in scientific writing.


Scenic or Anecdotal Conclusion

Good for: when you want to use a scene or a BRIEF story to illustrate your theme without stating it explicitly.

This strategy is often used in popular writing. It can help the reader experience the emotional significance of a topic. Example: a paper favoring public housing for the homeless may end by describing a homeless person collecting bottles in the parl.


Hook and Return Conclusion

Good for: when you want to return to something mentioned in the beginning of the essay.

If your essay begins with a vivid illustration of a problem, the conclusion can return to the same scene or story, but WITH SOME VARIATION to indicate the significance of the essay.


Delayed Thesis Conclusion

Good for: stating the thesis for the first time at the end of the essay.

This can work if you are writing about complex or divisive issues and you don’t want to take a stand until you have presented all sides. In this case, the introduction of the essay merely states the problem, giving the exploratory feel.


Conclusion notes from Allyn and Bacon Guide to Writing, 4th Edition, Florida International University Edition, pp. 616-617




Class Notes “Cram Session”

                            stuffed suitcase

How to Write an Intro:

 Introductions: Page 593-598 in Composing and Revising Closed-Form Prose

I went over this in class. Remember the Napster article? It’s a great example of revising a sloppy intro.


  1. to spark the interest of readers,
  2. to move readers gracefully toward the thesis statement, and
  3. to present the thesis statement of the essay

Just get the reader’s attention, in a clever way if you can, move toward the thesis statement, and then present the thesis statement.

Introductions generally are not long, certainly not longer than body paragraphs. Avoid going into depth developing ideas in the introduction. That’s for the body paragraphs of an essay, not for the introduction. The primary purpose of an introduction is just to introduce your essay.

 How to write the first sentence in a paragraph.

  • If you want to keep it simple. Make your first sentence a clear topic sentence.
  • If you are transitioning to a new paragraph and the next paragraph is dealing with the same topic….use phrases such as “similarly,” “in the same vein,”
  • If you are presenting a new idea, just come out with it. Say it.
  • If you are presenting an idea that is contrary to the one you just finished, use transition words such as “On the other hand, critics of the iPod 6 maintain that….”

How to stretch a topic to last 5-7 pages

Write everything you think you can write about each viewpoint. See how many words you have, or how many pages you have. If you have written everything you know to write. Then write your conclusion and your introduction. Then take a look at the balance between your points you are making. If they are roughly the same length, and you are short by a page and a half, then each of the three topics needs 1/3 of a page more. Here’s where you go deeper into your topic.

Perhaps your paragraphs are too simple. Perhaps you stop your sentences short and they could be expanded on.

In contrast to Hemingway’s simple use of sentence, Denis Johnson uses more complex sentences.     Well, so what? Why don’t you tell us in what way here. Expand it right out of the gate:

In contrast to Hemingway’s simple use of sentence, Denis Johnson uses more complex sentences, often incorporating elements of black humor, double entendre, and subtle drug references within the guise of language-rich compound sentence structure.

How to Avoid  Dropped Quotations

What are they?

Dropped quotations are lines or passages from the text that stand alone as sentences, or are spliced into sentences in a grammatically incorrect manner.

For example:

In his short story, “Little Things,” Raymond Carver clearly shows a conflict between the two characters.  A couple is fighting over custody of their baby.  “She would have it, this baby.  She grabbed for the baby’s other arm.  She caught the baby around the wrist and leaned back.  But he would not let go.  He felt the baby slipping out of his hands and he pulled back very hard.” 


Why is this a problem?

As a matter of style, dropping quotations is simply not elegant.  As a matter of content, dropped quotations demonstrate a lack of mastery over the material and a lack of context for the quoted information.  Who is saying this?  Why?  What does it mean?  How does it relate to your thesis?  The reader should not have these questions when you are using textual evidence.

How do I fix the problem?

There are three easy fixes:

  1. Use a simple “signal phrase”:

Carver writes, “She would have it, this baby.  She grabbed for the baby’s other arm.  She caught the baby around the wrist and leaned back.  But he would not let go.  He felt the baby slipping out of his hands and he pulled back very hard” (2). 

  1. Choose key words and phrases and blend them into your own sentence

Carver writes that the mother “grabbed” the baby while the father “pulled back very hard” (2). 

  1. Use block quotation format for quotes longer than four lines:

Carver writes:

She would have it, this baby.  She grabbed for the baby’s other arm.  She caught the baby around the wrist and leaned back.  But he would not let go.  He felt the baby slipping out of his hands and he pulled back very hard. (2) 

 Note punctuation of citations in the above examples.


Dropped quotation:

McMurphy also engages in a game of manipulation similar to that of the Nurse, as he manages to make a fool of her on several occasions, further undermining her authority and psychological hold over the patients.  “She’s glaring at those big white whales leaping round his shorts in pure wordless outrage.  That’s more’n she can take” (88).  The Nurse was compelled to surrender because she could not bear to have the other patients see her in a vicious, vengeful state brought on by McMurphy, so she temporarily abandoned her desire to chastise him.

Blended quotations:

McMurphy also engages in a game of manipulation similar to that of the Nurse, as he manages to make a fool of her on several occasions, further undermining her authority and psychological hold over the patients.  When she sees him in his boxers, she “glar[es] at those big white whales leaping round his shorts in pure wordless outrage.  That’s more’n she can take” (88).  The Nurse was compelled to surrender because she could not bear to have the other patients see her in a vicious, vengeful state brought on by McMurphy, so she temporarily abandoned her desire to chastise him.

By keeping the meeting delayed, the people of the ward can see the nurse is thrown off.  Through subtle delays or obstructions, Bromden can see that “the nurse’s head gives one little jerk, barely enough to see, but my heart is suddenly roaring” (97).  Even the slightest weakness in the Nurse fills Bromden with a sudden rush of emotion, a “roaring” that represents power and freedom.

After he volunteers Doctor Spivey to share news with the group, she reacts: “The nurse’s head gives one little jerk, barely enough to see, but my heart is suddenly roaring” (97). 


The people of the ward can see the nurse is thrown off.  Even the slightest “little jerk” in the Nurse fills Bromden with a “sudden” rush of emotion, a “roaring” in his “heart” that represents power and freedom (97).

In-text citations:

 General Questions

 Should I state my own viewpoint in the thesis?

No. Use the essay on transracial adoption as an example of when/where to state your own opinion.

Or use the sample of the Critical response from our textbook on page 72.

How do I improve my sentence structure?

Practice writing. Read sentences aloud. Have a paragraph of an article you admire in front of you when you read. Copy the structure of the paragraph. Use it like paint-by-numbers. Don’t copy the content, just the structure. Read a lot. Read your own work out loud.

Attempts at explanations for increases in voter participation in this year’s elections were offered by several candidates.

Better: Several candidates attempted to explain why more voters participated in this year’s election.

Here’s another: A person taking on the role of caregiver for another, a sick elder, perhaps, is a very demanding job. (Mixed construction)

 Better: A person taking on the role of caregiver for another, a sick elder, perhaps, has a very demanding job.


When dealing with the viewpoints, do I include background information?

It depends. If it needs it, you include it. Look at sample essays :


How do I know if the information I am providing is valuable or if it is going over something the reader already knows?

Sometimes if a reader knows information already, they will overlook it to discover the new thing you are talking about, or if they are more advanced than you, they might keep reading to see how well you make your point, even if they already know what it is.  It is okay to give background information, even if you suspect it is common knowledge (AJ paper).Background info orients the reader. You run into problems if your thesis/argument/ or supporting information is globally rudimentary. Again, read a lot. Read the kind of writing you have to do.

Are op-ed pieces reliable as sources?

It depends on the authority of the person writing the piece. If it is Jack Johnson, retired deli owner, writing a piece on military strategy, probably not.  If it is Jack Johnson writing a piece on the recording industry today, it is better. It also depends on the context. What you pull from it needs to be relevant to the piece you are writing.

Can I insert my opinion?

  • What does the assignment sheet say?
  • What does the layout of sample assignments suggest?


How do I get help with my commas? I still can’t do them right.

If you are struggling with proper use of commas, or with any writing skill, find your way to a writing lab, or Google something like, “Comma practice worksheet” and practice them until you get them right.

Here is one. I found it in point five seconds.

Help! I still need more help understanding my topic! What do I do?

If you don’t understand your topic, read and read until you do understand it. College is not like high school. No one will spoon-feed you information. Sometimes a professor will say write a paper on x, and it will be loosely based on theories you cover in class and you are responsible for taking what you learn and applying it to a totally different topic that may not have been mentioned in class.

I once unwillingly took a class in Late Victorian American Literature, where we read a whole bunch of obscure texts and talked about literary theory of the late 1800s. Then I wrote a paper on a book we had never mentioned, using a theme we had never mentioned, and literary theory we had never mentioned, and in fact, my professor knew little about. I had no idea what I was doing but I read for five hours a day for three weeks before I even produced my annotated bib. And I’m not special. It’s what everyone does.

Help! I feel like the research in this paper is very had to find – we have to tie in disabilities, and it makes the paper a lot harder than it should be. What do I do?

See above, and also, put in as much time and effort as it takes. They say for every one credit hour in which you enroll, you will spend approximately two to three hours outside of class studying. Use the formula: 3 credit hours (1 course) = 3 hours in class per week = 9hours study time per week per three credit course.


Unit 4 Critical Analysis 11/8 – 11/13

bad yearbook photo

Monday/Tuesday 11/9 and 11/10

Class Objectives:

  • Discuss two sample papers from BDT –


  • Read BTD p. 46 – “Should Welfare Recipients be Drug Tested?” Be prepared for class discussion.
  • Finish The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. We will be discussing next week, so you can take all week to read.
  • Prepare paper proposal to turn in 11/11 and 11/12

Wed/Thurs 11/11 and 11/12

Class Objectives:

  • Discuss Dubois’ argument. How does it respond to Washington’s argument? What concessions, if any, does Dubois make? Why and how does he disagree with Washington’s argument? How does this fulfill the obligations of a critical analysis?
  • Group work: Discuss “Should Welfare Recipients be Drug Tested?”
  • How to write an annotated bibliography





Sample Critical Response Papers

I found USC Upstate’s paper English literary file! There is one critical response paper called “Where to Draw the Line Between Transracial Adoption.” Check it out.   this is about 1500 words.  It is first-person heavy. A little too much for our assignment, but the student does use primary research. The tone is also less academic than we are looking for with our assignment.  This essay is about 580 words. About 1/3 of the length we are looking for with our essays, but it is fairly solid.  Sample 2 is about 1225 words, a little short of our goal, but it is close in pacing to what we are looking for with our assignment.

I hesitate to share this website, because it is an essay-writing site that sells term papers. Do not use this. You will get caught and it will not go well for you. However, the little sample essays are not too shabby. They include outlines. This should help you with your writing process to see the outline modeled, then read the paper. Here is one:  This is 1449 words, just about at where you should be with this paper assignment.

Here is a page with several more:

Again, don’t ever buy an essay. It is outright cheating. As well, I will be collecting Word Docs of this paper when we turn in the hard copy of the final draft, and will be using Turnitin software for the final assignment. Other than that, have fun.






Closed-Form Writing – Titles, Introductions, Transition Words, and Conclusions

fixed essay

These are the notes from the lecture on 10/19 and 10/20. Use them well.

Creating an Effective Title:

  • Good titles follow the principal of old before new information that we already talked about
  • Something old (a word or phrase that hook’s reader’s interest) and something new (a word or phrase that forecasts the writer’s thesis
  • Some titles state the question the essay addresses. (Will Miley Cyrus Ruin Another Generation of Young Women?)
  • Some titles abbreviate the thesis: (Miley Cyrus is Still Influencing the Generation That Watched Her in Hanna Montana)
  • Many academic titles consist of two parts separated by a colon. To the left is the key words from the essay’s issue, to the right is the essay’s question, thesis, or summary of purpose (Miley Cyrus: Why Cultural Appropriation is Never Okay)

For fun, check this out: Really. Don’t use it. Just have fun with it.

Creating Effective Introductions:

We know that the introduction provides a big-picture overview of a paper’s argument, writers often can’t compose them until they have finished at least one exploratory draft. As soon as you know the big picture of your essay, titles and intros follow some basic general principles.

What we want to grow away from: The Funnel Introduction

  • Most students have been taught an opening strategy, often called “the funnel” that encourages students to start with a broad generalization, and narrow down to the topic. We are going to learn a new technique that will help us get past this stage to write more powerful introductions.

“For thousands of years, man has looked up into the sky and wondered what the stars were. It is only recently, since the invention of the Hubble telescope, that we have begun to see the details that give us the facts we need.”

“Since the beginning of time man has pondered the meaning of life. It is only since the 1940s, after Viktor Frankel wrote Man’s Search for Meaning, that we have dared to think that we have a right to search for the meaning of life at all.”

  • The funnel often leads to vapid, low-level generalizations in opening sentences, which turns readers off.

Introductions also follow the old-to-new strategy.

  • Old information before new information is a dynamic technique for getting your reader to stay with the paper.
  • Because the writer’s thesis statement forecasts the new information the paper will present, a thesis statement for a closed-form essay typically comes at the end of the introduction.
  • What comes before the thesis is typically the old, familiar information the reader needs in order to understand the conversations the thesis joins.
  • Typical closed-form shape


(old information)


(new information)

Read examples on pp 594-595

Typical elements:

  • An opening attention-grabber – first few sentences capture your reader’s attention. Use if you aren’t sure if your reader is already interested in your problem.
  • An attention-grabber ( or hook, or lede (or “lead”) can be
    • a startling fact
    • an interesting scene
    • something else that taps into reader’s interest
  • An attention-grabber is uncommon in academic prose
  • An attention grabber is frequently used in popular prose
  • The  intro can be used as an explanation of the question to be investigated: If you know your reader already knows about the problem and cares about it, then you only need to summarize it
  • If you aren’t sure if your reader already understands, then you need to explain it in more detail, showing why it is both problematic and significant.
  • An intro can provide background information: sometimes readers need background information –
    • a definition of key terms
    • a summary of events leading up to the problem
    • in science papers, this often includes a review of pre-existing literature
  • A preview of the whole – this final element of closed-form intro sketches the big picture of your essay by giving readers a sense of the whole. This preview is the new information for your readers (which is why it comes at the end of the intro). Once stated, it becomes old information the readers will use to locate their position in their journey through your argument.
  • The easiest way to forecast the whole of your purpose is to state your thesis directly. I recommend this, at least for a few years. It makes writing easier.


  • Place them at the beginning of the paragraph.
  • Read examples page 600


Readers expect each new sentence, paragraph, and section to link clearly to what they have already read. This was the one of the biggest problems I saw with the last round of papers.

Readers need transition words to create a well-marked trail with signposts signaling the twists and turns along the way. They also need resting spots at major junctions where they can review where they have been and survey what is coming in. You need to use transition words, as well as summary and forecasting passages to keep readers securely on the trail.


Examples: therefore and nevertheless:

While on vacation, James caught the chickenpox. Therefore, _______.

While on vacation, James caught the chickenpox. Nevertheless_____________.

What does “therefore” do? It predicts an expected consequence.

While on vacation, James caught the chickenpox. Therefore he spent his vacation lying in bed, itchy, feverish, and crying for his mama.

What does “nevertheless” do? It signals an unexpected consequence.

While on vacation, James caught the chickenpox, Nevertheless, he enjoyed his vacation, thanks to calamine lotion, some good creative essays, and a marathon game of 3d Sonic the Hedgehog.

Transition words also govern transitions between ideas.


Look at the conclusion as a compliment to your introduction. The job of the conclusion is to bring a sense of completeness and closure to the profusion of detains in the body of the essay. Help the reader move from the parts back to the big picture.


  • Simple summary – recap what you have said
  • Larger significance conclusion – draw the reader’s attention to the importance or application of your argument
  • Proposal conclusion – Call for action or call for study
  • Scenic or anecdotal conclusion – Use a brief story or scene to illustrate the theme without stating it explicitly (most often used in popular writing, not academic)

*Thanks to Allyn and Bacon Guide to Writing for these class notes.

Recipe for Popular Culture Analysis

These are the class notes from Monday/Tuesday class discussion about the Popular Cultural Analysis paper.


The function of the introduction:

  • to identify the topic
  • to introduce the relevant historical and cultural context, the texts you are analyzing, and your thesis
  • to introduce your thesis – which is an analytical claim that explains how your popular culture text works, what strategies it uses, and why it works the way it does.
  • to assert that your claim (thesis) will address what underlying cultural issues your pop culture text reveals
  • to assert that your claim (thesis) will address the fact that your text is produced in a certain way to achieve a certain goal.

How does this differ from your summary and analysis?

  • The first paragraph is not a summary. It is an introduction. We will have a lesson on creating a powerful introduction on Wed/Thursday


The function of the summary:

  • paraphrase sentences using your own words
  • general overview without too much detail, yet giving the right meaning
  • this can be shorter than the 1/3 summary in the Summary and Analysis paper. It’s a brief summary to give the reader the lay of the land of your text, comprising perhaps one short paragraph


The function of the body paragraphs:

  • to develop the specifically analytical (and perhaps comparative) argument offered in your claim
  • to provide careful evidence to support the various parts of the claim
  • to have one-topic paragraphs that to have identifiable topic sentences that mirror elements of the thesis

It is in the body paragraphs that you will support your thesis with complex analysis, using quotes, paraphrasing, and intellectually rigorous discussion. Wallow in complexity.


The function of this conclusion is to offer some conjecture, make some more general claims, evaluations, or suggestion of broader implications.

  • it is here where you can apply your opinion, particularly of broader implications your topic may have on society

Use at least two sources for this paper. Once can be your primary text.




Unit 1 Memoir Week 3 – Course Content/Objectives

scary class photo

We are down to the wire with our memoir unit. After this week’s class on either 9/9 or 9/10, you will have the rest of the week and the weekend to  revise your draft at turn in either on Monday 9/14 or Tuesday 9/15, whichever day you have class. Remember to turn in the one-page, typed reflection on the changes you made.

Please note: all essays should have a title. I neglected to stress this in class today. This is what the syllabus says about title (and heading):

To avoid confusion, please label all of your work carefully. Include your name, course prefix and number, date of submission, page numbers on all but first page, assignment label and descriptive title. Put this information in the upper left hand of your paper and all will go well for you.

Assignment label for this paper can be something as simple as “Memoir.”

Also, when you think your draft is finished, when you think you can’t do one more thing to make it better….read it aloud to yourself. I can almost guarantee you will find things to improve. Also, have a trusted friend or family member to go over it for smaller grammatical or spelling or punctuation errors. A fresh eye usually catches something. Finally, read your essay mirrored against the grading rubric. Check to see that you have fulfilled the elements on the list.

Remember, if you are not thrilled with how your essay turned out, it’s a normal feeling for creative nonfiction writers. You can revise. I will work with you until you are happy with it, and will give revision dates later in the semester.

Also, I will put “common revision error” notes up on this site tomorrow after the T/TH class.

In Class:

  • Go over global issues with memoir. Q&A ( notes is separate doc on Tuesday 9/10)
  • Share a few first paragraphs
  • Discuss “The Fourth State of Matter” and “The Estrangement”
  • Discuss Curious Incident reading
  • Pass back drafts with instructor comments
  • 20 minutes reserved for one-on-one Q&A on drafts


  • Read pp. 33-64 in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
  • Read from Bridging the Difference (BTD), “Summary and Analysis,” pp. 39-49 in preparation for the next unit, which we will begin on M 9/14 or or T 9/15
  • Finish final draft of memoir.
  • Write one-page response. Put some thought into this!

See you next week. I am available this weekend for questions. Again, do not email me attachments of your whole paper, as I will be unable to go over them and respond the way I did this week. I will be able to answer specific questions, though.