Upper level PHIL classes, tips on writing papers:                                                                            



The papers should be no less than eight pages long, double spaced, in a standard 12 point font like Times/ Times New Roman. Expect to use the text and cite it with a consistent citation scheme (refer to the St. Martin’s Handbook you use in your English classes). “Use direct quotes!” (James, 2011)  Don’t use plastic paper covers, just a staple is fine. The ability to write and edit well-constructed academic essays is an important skill that will come in handy throughout your college career and beyond. Again, these papers must be typed, double-spaced, in a standard 12-point font (e.g., Times) with one-inch margins at the top and bottom of each page and 1.25-inch margins on either side (the default settings in Microsoft Word). The topic, subject matter, case study, and examples used in your papers are entirely up to you, but you should research them thoroughly. You should use the links below to help you with materials for your papers.

Listing of academic journals to which our library provides full text access:
http://books.valdosta.edu/gal1.html (click on “Full Text Journal Title List”) and

(The second link, from UGA, is very helpful.  Click on Academic Search in the right side of the screen.  A new page will open with a search box.  In that search box you can use any subject or keyword you like, and it will give you a variety of well-researched articles to use in your papers.)


            Papers should be at least eight pages long, plus a separate title sheet and References page.  Use a standard 12-point font and one inch margins.  Remember to write as if your reader had never taken a philosophy course.  Choose the question about which you would like to write a paper.  Use direct “quotes” from our text, and from at least two academic journal articles.  Any quotations and paraphrasing must be cited properly, with quotation marks and parenthetical references.  This includes internet resources – give me the url (http://) and all the information you can, and use direct quotes.             

            Introduce your topic/question in the introductory paragraph, and explain your methodology (i.e., say whose writings you will discuss, who you will agree and disagree with, and state briefly your own position in the introductory paragraph).  You should use first person sentence structure, “I”, as in: (”I will argue that...  I will disagree with... ”)

            You should clearly explain the position(s) taken by the author(s) that you have chosen to write about.  Don’t spend too much of the paper summarizing, but do enough to show that you really did understand the texts and that you have given the authors a fair reading.  (Show you understand them before you disagree with them.)

            After explaining the other authors’ views carefully and objectively, you can finally start commenting and criticizing their views and disagree with them as you like.  Respond to their positions.  This involves careful explanation of, and criticism of, the arguments given in those texts.  Say why the arguments work or do not work.  (If you didn’t agree with the way that an author described a particular theory of public health, say why here.)  Point to any tensions or inconsistencies the authors missed.  Imagine any unforeseen negative consequences of the author’s position that the author did not anticipate or address, but should have.

            Writing about these readings should prepare you for the next section of the paper, a careful explanation of your own position on the issue. This third section is also where you should discuss your chosen video/dvd/historical/case study examples – use your examples to show your own theory.  Feel free to explain your position in reference to the other books and articles you have read (for example, you might have sentences that begin ”Unlike Matthews, I believe that... or In response to Kitcher, I would argue that..... ”).  Just be sure to back up your positions with good reasons, above and beyond disagreeing with someone else: think independently, give premises for your conclusions, give reasons why you think what you think.  Your life experiences matter, and you probably have your own theories on public health already.  Put them in this section of the paper only.

            Finally, in the last section, it would be a good idea to take a step back and address an argument against your position.  You might have sentences that say things like: (”Some medical ethics theorists, such as _____, might disagree with my position on whether or not this treatment program is justified. They would argue that...  Some philosophers have claimed the opposite, that the context of community health is the most significant value for the overall interpretation of any public health program.”)  Then try to explain the opponent’s position, and respond to it as best you can (”I find that this argument against my position is incorrect or misconceived because.... ”). 

            In this way you can imagine the paper divided into four parts: I. a careful and objective summary of what the texts said about your topic, II. comparison and critique of different scholarly positions and interpretations (show you know how people debate on the issue), III. argument for your own ideas and description of your own examples (be they historical, case studies, video, or dvd), and IV. responses to criticisms of your view from part III. 

            It is also an excellent idea to have a friend read your paper, especially one not in the class.  Besides testing to see if you have explained the readings clearly, a friend may be able to help you see arguments you may not have seen, not to mention errors in spelling and grammar usage.  I do care about grammar, spelling and punctuation; you should make every effort to proofread your work before turning it in.

Cite references in quotation marks and have a separate References page: Avoid even the slightest hint of plagiarism: when in doubt, use a citation!  Also, I don’t really mind what citation style you chose (APA, Chicago, Turabian, etc.) as long as you use that style consistently throughout the paper.