Frequently Asked Questions
Geography Today Assignment
Q1. I have been really busy, would you give me an extension?
A1. No. The due date is a deadline. Unless you
have a family or medical crisis, late papers will be penalized by 10 percent
Q2. Is it OK if I use the web to research the paper?
A2. Use any authoritative sources that you can find, including those on the web. But you must demonstrate that you have learned to use an academic library effectively. Our library has a great deal of specialized material that will be very helpful in developing your paper. It is vital to learn how to use a research library and the art and science of library research is an important component of this essay.
Q3 What do you mean by “authoritative sources”?
A3 I mean credible material by recognized experts which has been vetted and received some level of sanction as a quality academic contribution. This normally means that it has been edited or refereed by experts in the field. For example (and this list is not exhaustive) I would accept any refereed academic journal, book or an edited collection published by a recognized press, documents published by government agencies (Statistics Canada, Instituto Nacional de Estadística Geografía e Informática - Mexico) or nongovernmental organizations such as the UN, OECD or WTO. Popular journalism (e.g. Macleans, Newsweek, Canadian Geographic, Sports Illustrated, Chatelaine) and trade journals (Canadian Banker, University Affairs, Canadian Grocer) may also be useful sources but they need to be used much more carefully and selectively.
Perhaps it is easier to suggest what you should avoid! Juvenile sources from the Curriculum Lab such as World Book Encyclopedia can make wonderful leisure reading and a great way to bone up on something long forgotten from high school but these are seldom at the level required for academic research. Hate literature, Web logs (Blogs), student essays, and a host of unqualified, unedited and politically biased sources on the web are similarly unsuitable for most academic work.
There are lots of grey areas in this regard. For example, Wikipedia turns up frequently on Google searches. It can provide some useful and quick answers to some basic factual questions but it is certainly not an authoritative source and should not normally be used for academic writing. While some instructors might find it to be acceptable for limited use as an expedient in undergraduate level work others would not accept such a source under any circumstances!
Our library has an excellent guide to assist you in evaluating web resources which you should use if in doubt.
Q4. How should I give credit for information that I have obtained from library sources?
A4. The essay must follow an accepted
academic style of writing and citation. For instance, you could use the Modern
Languages Association (MLA) or American Psychological Association style
manuals. If you are not familiar with these styles, you may wish to consult the
Guides produced by the University of Lethbridge Library or the "Term
Paper Style Guide" on the course web page.
Q5. How should I give credit for information that I have obtained from the web?
A5. This is covered in the "Term Paper
Style Guide" on the course web page.
Q6. Can I use figures, tables, maps or graphs in my paper?
A6. By all means! See the Term Paper Style
Guide for some advice on this.
Q7. Do I need to include a photocopy of the newspaper article with my paper?
Q8. Does the essay have to be word processed?
Q9. My paper is longer than the 1,500 word limit. Is that OK?
Q10. How can I find material in the library for an event that has just happened?
A10. The goal of the essay is to research the
background of a current event - the
broad geographical factors that help us to understand the reasons for the
event, its importance and future prospects for the region under consideration.
So even though the paper is inspired by, and relevant to a current event, it
should not be an up-to-the-minute journalistic kind of treatment.
Instead it should identify and explain the key geographical factors that set
the stage for the event and put it in its global context.
Q11. I would like to write my essay on the geography of Kalimantan. Is that OK?
A11. No. You must begin your research
by browsing an authoritative newspaper with international stature e.g. The
Globe and Mail. When you find a story that is relevant to concepts and
themes of the course, one that truly piques your curiosity, develop a unique
theme and research question that you will answer in your paper.
Q12. Can I use the Lethbridge Herald instead?
A12. No. The
Lethbridge Herald is a good way to
keep up with the local scene but for this assignment, please read a paper that
is more national or international in scope such as The Globe and Mail, National
Post or New York Times.
Q13. Can I do a paper on a Canadian or American topic?
A13. No. The essay is designed explicitly to encourage you to be more aware of geographic issues beyond the familiar confines of North America north of the Rio Grande.