Tuesday, April 5, 2011

First Amendment Research Paper Introduction

The First Amendment is, arguably, the most important one. In order to learn more about the amendment's real life application, you will conduct research with the ultimate goal of writing a research paper.

General topic questions:

Is TOPIC X protected by the 1st Amendment (constitutional)?


Is TOPIC X outlawed by the 1st Amendment (unconstitutional)?

First, choose one of the following First Amendment freedoms to focus on:
  • Petition
  • Religion
  • Assembly
  • Speech
  • Press
Once you've chosen your freedom, choose one of the following areas of study:
  • Controversial public advertising
  • Prayer at school sports events
  • Distribution of material within school
  • Religious meeting within school
  • Moment of silence at school
  • Censorship in a specific situation (ex: book banning, school newspaper censorship, etc.)
  • Dress code
  • Speech rules
  • Internet speech
  • Plagiarism
  • Protests at school
  • Other related topic
You could also choose a topic related to one of the First Amendment freedoms based on a current event. An  example might be the decision of a Florida pastor to burn a copy of the Qur'an.

Once you've chosen your focus and area of study, you will follow the steps below:
  1. Create a guiding research question (Ex.: Do radio personalities have the right to broadcast offensive material?)
  2. Use that research question to find Supreme Court cases related to your topic (using approved sources)
  3. Write a case brief following instructions given in class of one court case
  4. Find other court cases related to your topic (these could be state or local cases -- not every case has to have reached the Supreme Court)
  5. Find other informed sources related to your research question. For our purposes, these sources will typically be web sources.
  1. The paper should be 3-5 pages in length.
  2. The paper should be written in the third person.
  3. This research paper is an argumentative paper. Your first paragraph should clearly describe the topic and focus of your research by providing background information and context. Your thesis statement should come at the end of the first paragraph. Note: the reader should not have to guess what you will argue in your paper after reading the introduction.
  4. Even though you are making an argument on your topic, you must remain objective. You must show each side (or more) of the topic throughout the paper. You will ultimately reach your conclusion, but make sure to consistently present each side of the issue.
  5. Close your essay with a separate, final evaluation in which you relate your opinion concerning the application of the law. You are trying to show whether or not the First Amendment is still applicable 200 years after it was written. To what extent should there be enforcement of its use by the press, courts or citizens?
  6. You must include at least two court cases, at least one of which must be a Supreme Court case. Each case much relate to your research question in some way.
  7. You must have at least two additional sources related to the research question.
  8. All information must be cited properly -- including direct quotes and paraphrased information (refer to the Purdue Owl website to assist you in citing sources).
  9. You must include a title page separate from your paper. This does not count toward your page limit.
  10. You must include an annotated bibliography including your minimum four sources. This does not count toward your page limit.
  11. Your paper must be organized. Your introduction and conclusion will take at least one paragraph each.
  12. Use 12 point font, Times New Roman or Arial, standard margins, and include page numbers.
Today: identify your freedom and topic. Use the research sites provided in the next post to begin forming your research question. Friday, your research question, your primary Supreme Court case, and a brief summary explaining the case's relevance to your topic are due on your desk at the start of Friday's class. 15 points.

Schedule (we will visit the computer lab on additional days to conduct research)
Wednesday, 4/6/11: Computer lab visit to choose freedom, topic, frame research question, begin research.
Friday, 4/8/11: Research question and primary Supreme Court case due at beginning of class.
Mondy, 4/11/11: Lab visit during class to conduct research/work on bibliography.
Wednesday, 4/13/11: Lab visit during class to conduct research/work on bibliography.
Thursday, 4/14/11: Annotated bibliography due (30 point project page, based on rubric)
Tuesday, 4/19/11: Case Brief due (15 point project grade, based on rubric)
Tuesday, 5/3/11: Rough Draft Due (35 point homework grade, based on rubric divided in half)
Friday, 5/6/11: Final Paper Due (70 point project grade, based on rubric)

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