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Anthropology: Student's Practical Guide to Writing Papers: Home

Introduction

Imagine that it is now six weeks into the quarter. You are taking a heavy course load: genetics, organic chemistry, math, and an anthropology class for which you are supposed to write a fifteen page paper.

You have not even started the paper -- somehow you have not managed to find the time for it. Other things always seemed more important or more fun. But you can't put it off any longer. You have to start right now. You have to get it done as quickly and efficiently as possible -- and obviously you don't want to suffer any more than is necessary. Also, you don't want to take any chances with your GPA, so you want to write a good paper. But the whole project seems confusing, dreary, and a little overwhelming.

It doesn't have to be that bad. That is what this Guide is all about -- making the writing of anthropology term papers easier. There are ways to save time and effort. There are procedures and strategies that enable you to negotiate the necessary -but often tedious- process of finding the material you need through the library website quickly and effectively. After finding the material you need, it is important to know the best way of organizing it in your paper.  And finally, you will need to know how to document the sources that you've used, using the standard "style" of citations used in anthropology (and in some other social sciences).  Learning these techniques and skills frees you to concentrate on the quality of the paper--the ideas and the writing.

This Guide is no substitute for your own effort and commitment.  And obviously we are not about to recommend that you wait six weeks to begin your paper. Certainly there is no way to guarantee success or scholarly ecstasy; writing a term paper may never be as much fun as mountain climbing, or reading Russian novels, or whatever your idea of fun is. And there is no final or definitive answer to the question of what a professor wants in a paper. But this Guide will inform you of some of the basic features of an anthropology paper which you can be sure your professor will want you to know. And it shows you how to make your paper a more polished and expert product.