A formal 1,500 word “Pros and Cons” paper is required for this course.  The paper is worth up to 100-points.  Late or incomplete papers (less than 1,500 words of student-written text, exclusive of bibliography and title pages), will NOT receive credit.  Grading is based on both the quality of the content AND precise conformance to these instructions.  Do NOT use any other sources like:  MLA Handbook, APA Publication Manual, Chicago Manual of Style, etc.  These instructions are also posted on the course Blackboard, together with a student-written sample paper for guidance of what’s expected.  To access Blackboard, key “ACC Blackboard” into the search engine or use the following Internet address:  If you have not setup a “Username” and “Password” for Blackboard, call the ACC helpdesk at 512.223.4357 for assistance.  If, during the term, you cannot gain access to Blackboard for any reason, notify the instructor via Gmail, who will send you the information by return Gmail.


Paper Deadline

     Your fully completed printed paper may be submitted at anytime, but not later than the beginning of the class on Monday, 28 April 2014.  Any student who fails to meet this deadline, may submit the paper for half-credit consideration (up to 50-points) no later than at the beginning of class on Monday, 5 May 2014.  Submissions after that time and date will not receive credit.  The paper is mandatory, students who fail to submit the paper by either deadline will be penalized one full letter grade of final grade in addition to the loss of 100 points.


Caution to Procrastinators:  The instructor does NOT provide printing services.  Broken printers, empty ink cartridges, lack of paper, etc., are unacceptable excuses for lateness.  You must complete the paper and print it in advance of the deadline to submit it at the beginning of class when due.


Paper Overview

     History is not simply a succession of names and dates—one fact piled upon another.  On the contrary, historical writing is interpretative and argumentative—involving debates between advocates and critics.  Accordingly, each student will select a controversial contemporary topic from the list that appears below—NO OTHER TOPIC—and thoroughly research both sides of the issue, first presenting the Pro position in one or more pages and then the Con position in one or more pages.  After which, in one or more additional pages, students will evaluate each side’s arguments and then explain which is the most convincing, using specific reasons and examples.  The paper will end with the student’s position on the debate, citing the reasons and his or her view of the topic/debate’s historical significance.  See the student-written sample paper available on Blackboard for guidance purposes.


Paper Content

Steps to follow:

1. Students MUST select ONE topic and its exact title from the following list:

“JFK Assassination”               “9/11 Responsibility”               “Affirmative Action” 

“Building Border Fences”        “Shutdown Gitmo”                  “Occupy Wall Street”

“Roe v. Wade”                        “Affordable Care Act”               “Political Correctness”

“Immigration Policy Reform”   “Reagonomics”                       “War Powers Resolution”

“Clinton Impeachment”           “Electoral College”                  “2000 Presidential Election”

“Government Bailouts”           “Legalized Gambling”              “Value Added Tax (VAT)”

“NAFTA”                                 “Privatize Social Security”       “Torture of Terrorists”

“Reinstitute Military Draft”       “Nuclear Weapons”                “U.S. Global Interventionism”

“Global Warming”                    “Relations with Cuba”             “Voting Rights Act”

“Patriot Act”                             “Second Amendment”             “Defense of Marriage Act”

“U.S. Energy Independence”  “Afghanistan War”                   “New York Times Co.v.United States

 “Dropping Atomic Bomb on Japan”                                       (freedom of press v. national security)

“Size of Government”                                                                                                                                                


2. After selecting a topic and its exact title, each student will research it on the web and/or library, determining the Pro and Con arguments and claims presented by both sides of the debate.  Each student will then draft a ONE-SENTENCE summary position statement for each side, presenting the Pro position first.  If, for example, your topic were “Legalization of Marijuana,” you will research the claims and evidence put forth by advocates for the legalization of marijuana.  An example of such a Pro summary statement might be:  “Advocates maintain that the legalization of marijuana would reflect a society that emphasizes freedom and freewill, where people could enjoy the benefits of the drug legally and safely.”  After which you will draft a ONE-SENTENCE Con summary position statement.  An example of such a statement for the same topic might be:  “On the other hand, critics argue that the legalization of marijuana would create a dangerous environment for both drug users and innocent bystanders, exposing all of society to health-related and crime-related harm.”  You may submit your topic, together with your one-sentence summary statements, for instructor comment prior to beginning the paper.  Drafts of papers will not be accepted for instructor review and student revision.

3. The first indented introductory paragraph of the paper will provide an overview of what the paper will be about and include your Pro and Con summary statements (see student sample).


4. Next, the paper will present the claims and arguments of the Pro side of the debate in one or more pages, comprising multiple indented paragraphs of 4-8 sentences in length.  Present the Pro side of the debate like an avid supporter of that position.  For example, in the sample paper, the Pro section reflects the legalization of marijuana’s most enthusiastic supporters—what they would say about it—make it sound like you’re using their VOICE, reflecting staunch conviction (see sample paper).  Your mission is not to be objective in this section, that will come later in the paper.  Do not mix Pro and Con claims and arguments in this section—stick to the Pro side only.


5. Next, the paper will present the counter claims and arguments of the Con side of the debate in one or more pages, comprised of multiple indented paragraphs of 4-8 sentences in length.  Present the Con side of the debate as if you were an aggressive proponent of the opposing position.  For example, in the sample paper, the Con section reflects what the harshest critics of the criminalization  of marijuana would say about it—make it sound like you’re using their VOICE, energetically attacking (see sample paper). Your mission is not to be objective, that will come later in the paper.


6. Next, in one or more pages, you will separately evaluate each side’s claims and arguments in multiple indented paragraphs of 4-8 sentences in length in your voice.  Your critical evaluations will involve analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of each side in turn (first your pro evaluation in a separate section and then your con evaluation in a separate section).  You might consider how logical the arguments have been constructed and how convincingly they have been presented—relating what YOU find most persuasive or compelling about each side’s arguments and why, as well explaining which parts of the arguments seem flawed or weak to you and why (see student sample).


7. You will then take a personal position one way or the other in YOUR voice, stating which side you believe to be the most effective and convincing, using specific reasons and examples to support your analysis.  Don’t waffle, take a stand and defend it (see student sample).


8. End the paper with a final concluding indented paragraph that explains what you believe is the topic’s historical significance and contemporary relevance (see student sample).


9. Be sure to include the appropriate heading for all seven sections of your written text EXACTLY AS SHOWN IN THE SAMPLE PAPER.


10. DO NOT copy or paste directly from sources, instead paraphrase using your own words.


11. The paper MUST reflect proper English spelling and grammar throughout (use spell and grammar check).

Paper Format


A formal college paper requires strict adherence to format specifications.  The formatting specifications for this paper must be EXACTLY followed.  The paper will consist of three parts:  a) title page, b) student-written text pages, and c) bibliography page.

1. The first sheet of the paper is the Title Page (no page number).

2. Cite the title exactly as it appears in these instructions:


2. The title page is followed by the paper’s written text—introduction, body and conclusion—

all of which must be double-line spaced throughout (do not add additional spacing between paragraphs that is the purpose of indentation).


3. Student-written text pages must be consecutively numbered on one side of the sheet, centered at the bottom of the page, beginning with page one (1).


4. Set one-inch margins top and bottom and sides for student-written text pages.


5. Use a 12-point legible typeface  (Arial, Times New Roman, Verdana, etc.).


6. Text is flush to the left-hand margin and ragged right (as in this handout).


7. The first word of each paragraph is indented FIVE SPACES.


8. The last sheet of the paper will comprise the bibliography page.  You are required to cite formally at least THREE sources used for writing the paper in the bibliography section (not including the textbook).  References will NOT be cited within the text of the paper nor will footnotes be used.  The bibliography page will be the last numbered sheet of the paper and MUST be formatted as follows:

a) One inch margins top, bottom and sides

b) Title:  BIBLIOGRAPHY (underlined capital letters, centered at top of page)

c) Indentation and spacing specifications:

1. First line of each citation must be aligned flush to the left-hand margin

2. Each of the remaining lines of a citation must be indented FIVE SPACES

3. Single-line space within the citation (no spacing between lines)

4. Double-line space between citations

5. A correctly formatted, three citation bibliography appears as follows:



(sample template)













9. All sheets must be physically attached and submitted in proper sequence (stapled, inserted in folder, etc.)


Conducting Research


Research involves the search for relevant information that directly addresses the selected topic.  The traditional place to go is the library, which provides general and specific sources of information:  dictionaries, encyclopedias, books, essays, as well as magazine, newspaper and journal articles.  These items are indexed on computers or printed cards by title and subject.  Librarians are also available to answer questions and suggest specific sources of information.


Recently, the Internet has become a major source of information for many fields of study.  This is especially true for United States history.  In most cases, the Internet will prove to be the quickest and most effective way to search for information.  To explore the World Wide Web (www), you need to have computer access to the Internet, a good search engine and know how to conduct an effective keyword search.


Searching the Internet


One of the best search engines to find information on the web is “”  You can gain access to Google by typing its address (URL—Uniform Resource Locator) on your Internet provider’s homepage.  Google’s URL is:  On Google’s homepage, key-in your keyword(s).  For example, if the topic were about the legalization of marijuana, you might try inputting each of the following key words:  “marijuana,” or “marijuana legalization,” or  “marijuana debate” or “marijuana pros and cons,” and then click “Google Search.”  A list with URLs will appear containing



the keyword(s) that you inputted.  These are links to other web sites.  By clicking on them, you gain access to those web sites and the information that they contain.  By finding and reading the


information offered on these sites, you begin to select and gather relevant information—as well as more keywords to conduct additional searches.  Continue the process until you’ve collected and downloaded sufficient information to meet your needs, noting the address, title, etc. of the web pages that you intend to use for bibliographic purposes.

Citing Sources in the Bibliography


Citing research sources is the way you demonstrate that you did the requisite research, as well as providing interested persons with the opportunity to access those sources in the never ending quest for information.  For that reason, students will be severely penalized for cited sources that cannot be confirmed by the instructor.


Your paper’s bibliography page will list the sources you used in alphabetical order by author’s last name or by title where no author is given.  Cite at least three sources that you used for writing the paper (not counting the textbook)—not necessarily everything examined but those sources that were most relevant.  Footnotes, endnotes and references inserted into the paper’s text will not be included for the purposes of this paper—DO NOT use them.  Simply list the sources that you used on the bibliography page.  The proper notation for each source that you cite depends on whether it is in print or electronic form.  In either case, always underline or italicize book titles.  However, the titles of magazine, journal, and newspaper articles must be placed within quotation marks.  The following examples should provide sufficient guidance for citing and formatting sources in your bibliography—FOLLOW THEM EXACTLY.  Consult the instructor whenever in doubt about what to do.



Citing Web Sources

Web Citation Example—see sample paper

Burka, Lauren P.  “A Hypertext History of Multi-User Dimensions.”  MUD History. 1993. (2 August 1996).


Information Required (from above example):

● Author’s name (Last, first and initial), if given

● Title of the web page

● Title and date of complete work, if given

● The URL <web address>

● The date you visited the page (web pages often do not list the date when they were created

or updated, so this is a way of indicating how current the information may be).



Citing Print Sources


Book Citation Example—see sample paper

Boyer, Paul S., Clark, Clifford E., Jr., and Kett, Joseph F., The Enduring Vision:  A History of the 

American People Volume 1:  To 1877.  New York:  Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004.

Newspaper Citation Example

Mann, Thomas, “Guns in American Culture,” New York Times, November 12, 2000, p. D-14.

Encyclopedia Citation Example

“Sitting Bull.”  Encyclopedia Americana.  1998.  Vol. XX

Magazine or Journal Citation Example

Varley, Barbara K., “Second American Revolution or War Between the States,” Harper’s

Magazine, November 1996, pp. 111-22.

Submission Checklist


BEFORE submitting your paper be sure to check off each of the following items to insure conformance

to all requirements.  Failure to do so may cause an unsatisfactory grade.


___ Title page content and format shown in these instructions and student sample, no page number


___ Introduction:  the first indented paragraph of student-written text beginning with proper

heading containing an overview of the paper that includes a one-sentence summary Pro

position statement (first) followed by a one-sentence Con position statement (second)


___ Body:  multiple indented paragraphs of text presenting the Pro position first, then the Con

position, then student evaluation of each in turn, then student position with explanation.


___ Conclusion:  the last indented paragraph(s) of text beginning with proper heading, stating

the topic’s historical significance and contemporary relevance


___ Text aligned flush to the left-hand margin, ragged right


___ First word of each paragraph indented five spaces


___ At least 1,500 words of text (not counting title page and bibliography)—use word count


___ Seven Headings—be sure to use the proper heading for each section of the paper word-for-word and

formatted as they appear in the sample paper.


___ Double-line spaced throughout (do not add additional space between paragraphs)


___ One inch margins top, bottom and sides (except title page)


___ 12-point legible typeface


___ All pages of student-written text are consecutively numbered beginning with page one (1)


___ No footnotes, endnotes, or references cited within the text


___ Paper written in student’s own words not copied directly from sources


___ Proper English spelling and grammar throughout (use spell and grammar check)


___ At least three reference sources cited in the bibliography page (excluding the textbook)


___ Bibliography title in capital letters, underlined and centered on the last numbered page


___ First line of bibliographic citation flush to left-hand margin, succeeding lines of citation indented

five spaces


­­___ No line spacing within a citation, double-line spacing between citations


___ Citations referenced exactly as shown in paper instructions (see also student-sample paper)


___ All sheets physically attached to each other in proper order (stapled, in a folder, etc.)


___ Instructor consulted if in doubt about anything


___ Fully completed paper submitted at the beginning of class on 28 April 2014 or earlier  

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