Company Political Problem Analysis, Nov. 15, 2004

Here are a few more details for your term paper.

The most common format will be that you will state and analyze a problem, saying what you think the company should do to address it. Stating the problem clearly will be as important as finding a solution. Some topics will take a different form-- perhaps describing what the company is doing, and then analyzing whether that is a good idea, or describing what the government is doing and what its effect will be on a particular company or industry.

The length should be no more than 10 double-spaced pages (about 2500 words), plus a few tables, if appropriate.

The analysis is due on December 17, the date of the final examination. I would like you to hand in both hardcopy and a computer file (sent to me by email) of the main text (the computer file doesn't need to have the diagrams and tables). If you wish, you may hand in a draft on December 6 and I will give you comments, though with no promise that if you address all my comments you will get an A (following comments might raise a B paper to an A-, though, for example).

Your paper--even a draft-- should have a title page with your name, the course number, a date, and contact information such as your email address. It should also have an "abstract" or "executive summary": a one or two paragraph summary of the paper.

Your paper should have every page after the title page numbered (you can number the title page too if you like).

Sometimes business writing does not indent new paragraphs (that is, does not put a few blank spaces at the start of each paragraph). I want you to indent your paragraphs. It makes a paper easier for the reader to follow. You can put blank lines between paragraphs or not, as you please.

Quotations and citations of specific facts, including in tables, should be given specific sources. Footnotes are a good way to do that, or you can refer to a list of references at the end, and give parenthetic citations like this one to Jones (p. 233), which would say that a fact came from p. 233 of the Jones book cited at the end of your paper. Do not use endnotes-- footnotes are better. Include general references in a list at the end of your paper, if you haven't cited them already in footnotes.

When should you use quotations? The main uses are (a) to show that someone said something, as an authority or an illustration; and (b) because someone used especially nice phrasing. Do not use quotations unless the exact words are important. If they are and you do quote, give, if you have it, the exact page or section. If you paraphrase, note the source.

Don't plagiarize. I am strict about that, and have used the official procedures of the Dean of Students before. Software is available to detect papers that copy existing work.

Refer to companies as "it" rather than "they". For example, do not say "Worldcom's problem was that they falsified numbers". Instead, say, "Worldcom's problem was that it falsified numbers," or "Worldcom's problem was that its executives falsified numbers."

Avoid the words ``to assert'' and ``to state''. It is fine to say "He said that his company would be profitable" and to repeat "He said" over and over. Don't vary to "assert" just to avoid repetition.

It is often useful to divide the paper into short sections using boldface headings, especially if you have trouble making the structure clear to the reader.