Topic: The development of algebra in Europe
Abstract should be 200 words
Sources: Make sure that you have a variety of both primary and secondary sources. Primary sources include books and articles from the original scientists and mathematicians. Secondary sources are books and articles that summarize information and provide historical analysis.
Annotated Bibliography: Your essay must contain an annotated bibliography. An annotated bibliography is a list of sources each of which is followed by a brief summary describing its contents.
Thesis Statement and Abstract: Your paper should be summarized in an abstract which contains a clear thesis statement. The purpose of an abstract is to help the reader understand the content of the paper as well as its conclusion. Your abstract should be almost exactly 200 words. The abstract should be a kind a blueprint of your paper and explain why your paper is worth reading. What will the reader learn or understand after reading your paper? Why is your paper worth reading? You should start by writing your abstract but keep in mind that you will be updating and revising your abstract right up until you turn in your paper
Title: Give your paper a title that reflects its content and your thesis. It’s okay if the reader can’t figure out the exact content and thesis of your paper from the title but the title should make sense to them and be illuminating after they have read the paper.
Plagiarism: Be sure to properly cite all ideas and text which is not your own. DO NOT PLAGARIZE. Make sure that any ideas or phrases that you get from secondary sources are cited correctly. Do not over use your source(s). A significant portion of your paper should be your own analysis of the argument that you choose. If you have questions about how to cite something, ask me.
Topics: Any topic in the history of mathematics and science will work for this assignment. I suggest that you choose a topic from one of your lesson plans. Pick an event in which you are genuinely interested and you have something interesting and significant to say.
Grammar: Your paper should be free of grammatical mistakes. Sentences should show good structure and variety. You should avoid the passive voice. Paragraphs should be well structured and focused. The “claim, support, conclusion” paragraph model words well for philosophy papers. Your paragraphs should fit together into a coherent progression leading to your conclusion.
In order to complete this assignment, you should make a specific argument (conclusion or thesis and premises or reasons for believing your thesis) about one of the events in the history of science or mathematics. Your paper should begin by summarizing an event or dispute in the history of science or mathematics in as much detail as you can. You should then draw the reader’s attention to some central idea or original observation about the historical event and its significance. There should be no doubts in your reader’s mind about the central idea of your paper. This idea – the argument or main point that you wish your paper to make – is called the thesis. The thesis should be expressed in a thesis statement, usually a few sentences near the beginning of your paper and clearly articulated in your abstract
A philosophy paper must have a discussible/ arguable thesis, one that calls for extensive development and argument, one that poses some problem or question to which the answer is not immediately obvious. As Aristotle says “we do not argue about that which is not uncertain.” Your paper should be normative and not just descriptive; in other words don’t just recount an event in the history of mathematics and science. Rather you should make some interesting and controversial claim about that event. At the same time, don’t neglect to begin by summarizing the event and what others have said about the event.
Your thesis should be narrow, clear, precise, and arguable. It should not be trivial but also should not be so grandiose that you cannot possibly hope to prove it. A successful thesis addresses not only WHAT the paper will argue, but also WHY the issue matters to you and to your reader. Imagine that you tell me the topic of your paper and I ask you “So what? Why should anybody care about whether what you claim is true?” Be sure that you can answer this question.
Your thesis might change as you work through your ideas and that’s O.K. Sometimes you will discover your thesis in your conclusion, and you will have to move it to the front of your essay and begin again. THIS KIND OF REVISION AND REWORKING OF A PAPER PRODUCES THE BEST PAPERS. DO NOT EXPECT OR TRY TO WRITE YOUR PAPER FROM START TO FINISH IN ONE DRAFT. WRITING YOUR PAPER IN ONE OR TWO DAYS WILL LIKELY RESULT IN DISASATER.
Whenever you discover the thesis, the most successful thesis is one that shows a lot of hard, critical thinking. I would rather see a complex thesis that is difficult to handle than an obvious, bland, and uninteresting one that is easily proven.
Introduction: Your paper should contain a clear introduction. This introduction should be an extension of your abstract in the sense that it identifies an event in the history of science or mathematics and sets up the thesis and argument which is to follow. Tell the reader what your paper is about why you wrote it. Do not waste space or try your reader’s patience by opening with grand generalizations about the history of philosophy or mankind, how long people have asked a particular question, the human condition, etc. Do not provide extensive biographies of the historical figures unless their biography is relevant to your thesis
Conclusions: Your conclusion should not merely summarize what readers have already encountered in the paper. If by the time readers get to the end of the paper they don’t know what your thesis is or why it is significant, then the paper has not done its job. Think of your conclusion as a place to bring your ideas to closure, not by summarizing them but by exploring how they are significant and meaningful. The conclusion is the place to discuss why the issue you have been addressing is important. This is the ONLY time in your paper when you might make some connection between what the text has taught you and more general ideals or opinions.
Your Audience: Your audience for this essay will be people in the academic community who, for the main part, have not focused on and analyzed the particular issue you address as closely as you are going to. Since your audience is an academic one, this means that you must meet certain academic expectations. You should also keep in mind that an academic paper should make sense to readers outside of our small class. This means that you might need to add more explanation than if you were just writing for our class.
The Writing Process: Drafting: If you are stuck try free writing about your topic generally. Then take your free-writing and focus in on one or two particularly interesting or striking ideas. Then draft a plan or outline. If you don’t have a clear outline your paper is likely to be confusing and repetitive. Remember that your goal is to develop an argument. This should be difficult. If you are finding it easy to write 15 pages of complicated philosophy, the chances are, you are not focusing on a single idea or analyzing anything in detail. It is easy to write generally and superficially about lots of ideas.
Organizing: Decide how you are going to organize your ideas and information. What information and examples support each idea? There is no single correct way to organize a paper since your organization will largely depend on how you approach the paper. However, you should give your readers “road signs” that articulate the main ideas that you are presenting. A clear focus statement (thesis) and transitions between paragraphs (topic sentences) and between sentences are very helpful to readers.
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