The research paper is the most significant project you’ll work on in this course, and it is due during the last day of class. You should submit a paper proposal within 4 weeks from the beginning of class. The final paper should be 25-30 double-spaced pages, and based on extensive research. The paper topic must deal with an aspect of Syria’s contemporary politics or political economy. More information will be provided in class and on this website.
You should select your topic by Friday, March 1st, and submit a one page document that includes (a) the topic you wish to write your paper on, (b) 4-6 preliminary sources (including a minimum of 2 books and 2 academic journal articles), and (c) a brief statement describing why you’re interested in writing about this particular topic and what concept/theory/explanatory concern in particular you wish to address. A formal paper proposal will be due when your topic is approved.
Research Paper Topic Proposal
Your paper topic proposal is a one-pager that should be submitted via this website, and include the following elements:
Clear thesis statement or argument (You need a clear argument even if you are not certain about it yet: "In this paper, I argue that . . . ." Your thesis/argument should not sound like this: "This paper is about . . . "). You may follow up the statement with one or two sentences, but not more at this point.
A short bibliography of the texts you consulted and the ones you plan to consult. It should range from 6 to 10 sources, with two-thirds being books and peer reviewed journal articles. If you have less sources at the time of writing, that is fine too. This is better than simply jotting sources you have not consulted or plan to consult.
a short statement (3-5 sentences) about how this topic relates to the course material we read and why you think it is important.
Please stick to the suggested length above. There will be other opportunities to elaborate. This is intended to focus your work/plans.
Research Paper Topic
based on our class discussions, here are our paper options:
1. Existing Route (what's on the syllabus, a research paper individually researched and produced) 2. A Group Project (everyone has to accept this option for it to be feasible)
The existing route can be anything related to Syria's politics and political economy. I can be flexible, but you should clear the topic with me. potential topics can be:
- The building of the the modern Syrian State under Asad (1970-on): Implications for Today's Conflict - The Interplay Between Syria's Domestic and Regional Policies in the 1970s - Syria's Old Bourgeosie: Where Did They Come From and Where Did They Go? - The Ba`th Party: Before and After 1963 - The Old Social Classes of Syria Before 1958 - The Causes and Consequences of Syria's Economic Crisis of 1986 - The Decline of Labor in Syria - State-Peasantry Relations - The Syrian Opposition Before 1982 - The Causes and Dynamics of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood's Uprising (1976-1982) - The Syrian Opposition After 1982 - State-Labor Relations in Syria before 1986 - The Politics Of Economic Reform in Syria after 1986 - Syria's GFTA (General Federation of Trade Unions): Rise and Decline - The Causes and Consequences of the Consumption Book of the 1990s - Law #10 of 1991: Social, Legal, and Political Dynamics - State-Business Relations in Syria (any period) - Succession and Consolidation of Bashar al-Asad - Economic Reform Under Bashar 2000-2010 - Financial Liberalization in Syria after 2003 - The History of Business Associations in Syria - The Syrian Opposition Under Bashar al-Asad - The "Social Market Economy" of 2005: Social and Political Carriers - The Politics and Dynamics of Reducing State Subsidies after 2005 - Poverty and Wealth Distribution in Syria (Under Bashar al-Asad or after 1991)
[This is a partial list. You may select any other topic and clear it with me]
As for the Group Project, it would be one where each works on their paper but all papers would be on one theme. Any of the above topics can be developed into a theme. But not all topics above are conducive for a theme. So, if you discuss this amongst yourselves, we can have a broader discussion in class.
If you want me to suggest something that might be worthwhile, let me know.
Below is a basic outline for any research paper (and certainly this one) and a description of what should be found in each section. Please consult this guide, along with your class notes and readings for the course, as you write the various installments of your paper. Remember that each installment of your paper (should you choose to hand in drafts) should have a title page, endnotes or footnotes, and a bibliography. Note that the research paper is a major part of your grade. The paper should be 20-25 double-spaced pages. You need not follow this guideline religiously (as some aspects don’t apply to every paper--many papers will be more qualitative than quantitative), but you do need to address the tenor of the guidelines.
SUMMARY OF SECTIONS
Introduction. (maximum of 2 pages--concisely written) An introduction includes your thesis and introduces the reader to your research paper. This part should be punchy and compelling, not wordy and flat.
Literature Review. (2-3 pages) A literature review presents to the reader the most important scholarly answers to date to your general research question and provides a rationale for your own paper (if others addressed this topic, why are you writing it? Usually it’s because you are offering something new, or applying a new approach, or approaching it from a new angle or based on recent developments, etc.)
Model and Hypothesis. (1-2 pages) The ideas developed in this section follow directly from the Literature Review. For your preferred school of thought or discourse and the most compelling challenger, you need to generate a model. In other words, you need to determine what causes (independent variables) lead to what outcomes. The hypothesis then provides in words the way in which these variables are related. If your paper is not amenable to such dissection, you still need to provide a discussion of the important factors that drive your paper.
Research Design and Methodology. (~2 pages) In this section, you explain exactly how you are going to conduct your research and why your research strategy will help you answer your question as accurately as possible. Here, you will address your sources and why you chose them.
Data Analysis and Argument. (minimum of 8-10 pages) In this section, you evaluate your thesis and make your argument. This is the “meat” of the paper, what you are used to spending most of your time on. It is also good to debunk other arguments that you do not support (hence, the importance of a good literature review as your starting point).
Conclusion. (~2 pages) What can you conclude from all your work? What did you learn? What are the implications of your findings on the larger concerns of the course and research topic. What additional questions does your paper raise?