Skills to create an effective paper

Check the syllabus for due dates, points possible, and final grade value. The purpose of this assignment is for you to question an authority (our textbook) and give a fair assessment of one of its topics. You must employ multiple skills to create an effective paper: research, writing, analysis, and critical thinking. Evaluating the reliability of sources is one of the most important aspects of scholarship, and this assignment will allow you to practice this skill on multiple levels.

Some students feel intimidated by this assignment because they have never done anything like it before. If you feel the same way, don’t worry. I’m here to help you through it.

Final Draft Page Format

Type your paper in Word with one-inch margins, black 12 pt. font, and double spaced. This must be saved as Word, RTF, or PDF. Upload to the Dropbox folder Textbook Critique when finished.


In this paper, you will discuss how effective our textbook is in presenting a specific topic. It’s not a traditional research paper, but research is involved. If there are multiple textbooks, the syllabus should indicate which textbook will be used.

The purpose of the research is to help you make the determination whether the author was effective or ineffective. You will become an expert on this topic, and then using that expertise you will evaluate how well the author presented that topic. Your thesis statement will claim whether the author was effective or ineffective in presenting your chosen topic.

To start, find a topic in our textbook that interests you. The topic you choose must conform to the scope of the class. Also, the topic you choose should be very specific, something that the author covers in one page or so. Keep in mind that your topic may be covered in various areas of the book.

Not only is it important to read the section in the textbook that contains your topic, it is very important to read the entire textbook carefully. It is not uncommon for students to claim the author omitted a piece of information that, in fact, actually is included in the text. Taking notes as you read the textbook is helpful.

For the research portion, you will find three academic secondary sources that deal with your topic. I encourage you to visit a library to find your sources rather than relying solely on the internet. Your sources MUST be academic, and they must be secondary. There is an explanation of secondary sources in the Why History document. Hold your sources to a high standard. Your essay is only as strong as its sources –,, and online encyclopedias are unreliable. Non-academic sources will weaken your essay, which will adversely affect your score. When you visit a library, talk to a reference librarian about your topic. S/he can help you find reliable material.

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