Political Science : Writing & Citing
Citing Sources: Some Helpful Links
First and foremost, when assigned a paper of any kind, ask the professor how you should cite your sources. While some professors are relaxed about citations and just want mention of the author, book, date, and page, many professors prefer a standardized method for creating a bibliography. There are many citation styles including, but not limited to: MLA, Chicago, Harvard, APA, and Turabian.
Undergraduate Research Guides
Writing Your Paper
When beginning to write your paper, brainstorm some ideas first. If you were given a question/topic, pick apart each part of the question. If you are analysing the social, political, and economic impacts someone or something had on a country, make sure you come up with an answer for all parts. What were the social effects? What were the political effects? What were the economic effects? Before beginning to write, make sure you understand EVERY part of the question or assignment. If you don't, sign onto Wiscmail and email your professor/TA right away!
After splitting your question into all of its parts, try to come up with general answers to these questions. Underneath these answers, write a couple of reasons why you believe this to be true. Every answer needs evidence, so when you come up with ideas, try to find similar statements in your textbook or through other resources (articles, books, statistics) to prove your point.
Writing your thesis may seem difficult at first, so that is why a lot of people wait until the end to write it! Once you have all of your information put together, it will be easier to see what your main point is. If it is still unclear, don't hesitate to contact the UW Madison Writing Center! They can help you work through a tough thesis or even writer's block. Don't forget that this is your paper though. They cannot actually write it or proofread it for you.
After all is said and done, proofread, proofread, proofread! Many professors will take off a full letter grade for not doing this. It becomes very obvious when your spelling and grammar make little sense. Some key things to watch for are:
- Spelling names wrong. Spell check will always try to change names into a common noun, so watch out!
- Their, there, they're. Farther and further. Therefore and thereupon. If you have the slightest question of whether your choice of word is correct, look it up!
- "Feeling" words. If you are writing about someone other than yourself, do you really know what he or she could feel, believe, or want? If you need to write something along these lines, find a quote from the person him or herself.
Don't be like this guy.