Please produce an abstract of your semester paper within the first two weeks of the seminar and save this abstract in your webspace. Provide the professor with the appropriate URL for your abstract and make it available to the other students in the course for feedback.
The semester research paper provides you with an opportunity to embody your original research and related analysis in written form. The common thread linking most of the research papers in the seminar will be the underlying theoretical framework, gained in our reading and discussion of the primary text, Resnick and Wolff's Class Theory and History or Gabriel's Chinese Capitalism and the Modernist Vision. Students who wish to use alternative theoretical paradigms should make certain that appropriate concepts for producing a comparative economic systems analysis are contained within such a theory. We will discuss these alternatives during the semester, but you should do additional reading if you plan to use one of these paradigms. For those using the overdeterminist Marxian approach, your paper should make extensive use of the concept of class processes in the context of political, cultural, economic, and environmental/natural processes and the ontology of overdetermination, which recognizes the significance of all social and environmental processes in shaping economic systems, the differences and similarities between economic systems, and the relative success at economic growth and development of specific social formations. Select a topic and thesis that allows you to demonstrate your skill at using the theory and is narrowly focused enough to make feasible completion of your research in the alloted time. Formulate a clear thesis that makes use of the theory and takes a position that could be defended or challenged in a court-room like setting. Write a one paragraph abstract summarizing your basic argument. This is similar to the opening argument in a legal case.
It is suggested that the research paper be divided into four sections:
Your introduction should lay out the logical order of your argument. The path from your opening statement to your conclusion should be clear from the introduction. The manner in which you will make use of the concepts of class processes and overdetermination (and any other relevant methodological strategies) should also be clear in the introduction.
By mid-semester, you should be able to easily enter into a conversation about the social science literature relevant to your topic/thesis. Use the literature review as a vehicle for putting in print the most important papers, books, and other materials that are related to your work and/or will be directly incorporated into your argument. This would include empirical data, if relevant. You can use this section to reinforce your understanding of the primary text(s) and readings by including these works in your literature review and discussing the relationship of these writings to other texts.
Your argument can be organized logically in a number of ways. It can be written exclusively in English or you may wish to use some form of mathematics (linear or nonlinear) to shape the flow of the argument or you could construct your argument in the form of a computer program, making use of a major programming language (such as C or Python or Assembly). Whatever your decision, keep in mind that you will also need to present your work to the class and must be able to translate the language employed into a form understandable to the other students. I am willing to help you think this through and encourage students with the necessary skill sets to consider the approach of constructing algorithms within the context of a computer program as a serious alternative mode of presenting their argument. Both programming and mathematics tend to force students to carefully outline their argument (in either algorithmic form or in equations). On the other hand, students should recognize that most forms of mathematics undermine the use of the concept of overdetermination in your argument because those forms are handicapped by a deterministic logic. This is also the case in econometric presentations. However, these problems can be overcome and should not be a deterrent to the use of such mathematical approaches or to the use of statistics/econometrics. Papers written without the use of mathematics, programming, or statistics can be just as logical as those that do make use of such tools, but most students need to carefully outline their papers to achieve this result.
The conclusion should explain what you have accomplished in the paper and the implications of your research. How do your results change our thinking about the topic? How does it effect the field of comparative economic systems?
Finally, it is critical that the final product (your paper) be original, while drawing upon the research of others. This means that the basic structure of your argument must be in your own words, not those of other writers/analysts. If you use someone else's words, they should be properly cited. To do otherwise is to engage in plagiarism (a violation of the Honor Code). If you are in doubt about whether you are properly taking credit for a specific idea or argument, please do not hesitate to discuss it with me. Do not make the mistake of assuming that it is unlikely that a theft of someone else's writing will go unpunished.