The Magic of Cinematography: Becoming a Film Major

INR 2002 Research Paper Assignment

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Paper Basics
In the latter portion of the course we are going to consider a number of contemporary
issues in international relations. Some of them are extremely broad (international political
economics, war), others are just somewhat extremely broad (nuclear proliferation,
terrorism). Either way, we are only going to scratch the surface of these issues. I would like
to give you an opportunity to dig a little deeper into some issue in contemporary
international relations. In this assignment I ask you to pick a topic of interest – it could be
something like a specific event (a war between two countries, a nonmilitary conflict like
Iran’s potential nuclear weapons, etc.) or something broader but thematic (global
warming, the COVID pandemic). The key is going to be picking a topic that is narrow
enough to deal with in an 2000-2500 word paper (that's roughly 8 to 10 pages). The topic
mus be contemporary. That means it must involve events that have happened after 1989.
Once you have your topic, you should use the paper to answer the following questions
about it:

1) Give a BRIEF summary of your topic. What are the major relevant details about the
subject? This should be NO MORE THAN 750 WORDS. That’s why you need to narrow
your topic before you sit down to write your paper.
2) Are there any relevant international agreements about your topic? Has the United
Nations or other IGO’s dealt with your topic? What NGO's are active in this area and what
are their goals?
3) Who are the (most) relevant countries? What are their interests or goals as regards
your topic? Go beyond just restating what you said in Question 1.
4) Analyze your topic from a realist and liberal perspective. How would each approach
explain the way countries and individuals have behaved in your topic?
5) What is the future of your topic?

Possible Topics
You can choose from the list below or choose your own. A list of possible topics might
include: relations between South Korea and North Korea, relations between the US and
Cuba, the Russia-Ukraine crisis, Iran (or North Korea) and nuclear proliferation, Brexit,
NAFTA/USMCA, Security Council reform, anything to do with the recent 2008 economic
crisis (i.e. not domestic) such as the European debt crisis, the COVID pandemic,
cybersecurity, global poverty, development in the global South, AIDS or any other
epidemic (but focus on the international relations of it and not the science), the looming
demographic crisis in economically developed countries, immigration
INTERNATIONALLY (i.e. not specifically about the US), water access, etc. As a reminder, it
must be a contemporary topic, meaning it involves things that have happened since 1989
or later.
You can structure your paper any way you see fit, so long as you address the above
questions. I would suggest breaking your paper down into an introduction in which you lay
out what will be in the rest of the paper, five separate sections (each dealing with a
question) and a conclusion, to match the attached rubric. Make sure to read the rubric at
the end of the paper assignment for guidance on what each section should contain. Please
note that you should not just write a five paragraph essay with each of the above
questions being a paragraph. Generally each question should take you several/numerous
paragraphs to answer.

The total length of the paper is 2000 to 2500 words. That is roughly 8 to 10 double-spaced
pages with normal font and margins. Please put the word count on the front page of your
paper. The word count does not include the works cited page. Pretty much every word
processing program has a way of automatically counting words for you. If you are unsure
how to do this, let me know and I will show you. Will I count all of your words to verify
your total? Probably not. Unless you hand in something that is clearly not the length listed
on the front page. I know most people start out by aiming for the minimum number of
words, but given the scope of this paper topic you will likely have no difficulty meeting the
word count. While you will lose points for being under 2000 words, if a paper has less than
1500 words it will automatically fail the assignment.

Number of Sources

I am asked pretty much every semester some version of the question "how many sources
does my paper need to have?" This is a weird question to me, since the honest answer is
"how ever many you need to write a good paper", but I get why students ask it. A little
guidance is always a good thing. Let me say this, then. It would be very hard to do well on
this paper with less than five academic sources (i.e. not Wikipedia, Investopedia, and other
encyclopedic sources). You probably will want more than that, but at a minimum I'd be
aiming for that. Once you hit five sources that doesn't mean you are done doing research –
if three of your sources are all about one part of the paper then you're going to need more
in total to write a compelling paper.

Citations/Plagiarism – Read this carefully
You should be using academic sources for this paper. That means that while you can
consult Wikipedia as a start, you should be using additional sources, possibly including
global newspapers, scholarly books and journal articles and government websites. If you
are going to use web-based sources, make sure (as always) to consider who the source of
the website is. Are they credible? Do they have expertise? What’s their angle or bias?
MAKE SURE TO USE IN-TEXT CITATIONS in your paper. I don’t particularly care what
format they are (MLA vs APA vs Chicago) just so long as (a) you stay consistent in the
paper and (b) I can figure out how to find each source myself if I so choose.
Remember that whenever you use someone’s idea, either in a direct quote or reworded
yourself, you should use a citation. Using someone's words or ideas without citation is
PLAGIARISM and doing so will lead to a minimum of a zero on the paper and quite
possibly failure of the class. Please include a Works Cited page IN ADDITION TO the in-
text citations. Failure to do so will result in a 10% penalty.
For more information on citations, see the page in the Research Paper Module titled
"Citations and Plagiarism".
Three Stages of the Assignment
The absolute hardest part is finding a good topic. After that it's just a matter of finding
some relevant primary and secondary sources and then writing the stupid paper (I hate
that part, too). The assignment is going to be done in three parts.

First Assignment
The first deadline is going to be for you to submit to me one or two topics that you are
interested in doing. These topics should be directly related to international relations and
should be suitable for answering the five questions in the larger research paper

assignment. Don't just send me a list of topics though. For each of the topics also tell me
what kinds of sources you'd imagine looking for to help you answer the questions. You can
read more about how to find sources in the very next page after this one titled "Finding
Resources for Your Research". This part of the project should probably be a page or so in
length, but I'm really grading this based on quality (signs that you've put in some thought
and didn't just write it five minutes before the deadline). You can earn up to 20 points for
this portion of the assignment.

Second Assignment
A month after the first assignment is due (I promise to grade them very quickly for you),
you'll have the second one due. In this assignment you will submit to me an annotated
bibliography of sources you plan on using for your paper. An annotated bibliography is
not the same thing as a regular bibliography (or a list of sources). You can use ANY citation
format you want – MLA, APA, Chicago. Doesn't matter so long as you're consistent and so
long as I can track down the source myself should I want based on what you've turned in. If
you're wondering what an annotated bibliography is, that's a good question. See the page
a few pages down titled "What is an Annotated Bibliography" for more, but in brief, the
idea is that if I were to write a paper on the same topic as you (hey, I might do that
someday, you don’t know) then I should be able to read your annotation and decide “is this
source useful to me and should I read it?” For this assignment you should include a
minimum of 5 sources (not including non-scholarly ones like Wikipedia). This portion of
the assignment is worth up to 40 points.

Third Assignment
This is what it has all been building towards. Write the paper and submit it. It's worth up to
260 points with the rubric as follows:
Paper Rubric

Section of the Paper Total Points
Introduction 15
Question 1 40
Question 2 30
Question 3 30
Question 4 40
Question 5 30
Conclusion 15

Grammar/Spelling 40
Paper Length 20
Overall Points 260
Paper Rubric

No Points Up to 50%  Up to 85% Up to 100% Total

that lays out
for the
reader the
structure of
the rest of
the paper
Covers all
in the up to
85% range,
plus includes
a framing
Grammar &

Few to no

word count
on title page

Less than
1500 words:

More than
3500 words


Fails to
address a

question but
does so in a
cursory or
everything in
category with
addition of

Conclusion No
that sums up
all the
Covers all in
the up to 85%
range, plus
includes an
analysis of
what the
learned from


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