Research Papers

I wondering why I'd want to assign my students (as is standard practice) one or more scholarly type research papers, when none or almost none of them will be going into academia. Sure, it's great to give them writing assignments, and I plan on plenty of those, but why should they be learning how t0o do bibliographical references and proper footnoting, since, once they leave college, they will probably never create a bibliography or a footnote again.

Is there some point to this exercise I'm missing? Any thoughts?


  1. I wouldn't do it. In Hillsdale I allowed kids to take an in-class final OR do a term paper. Even among the self-selected group who wrote papers, the results were so shockingly bad* that it caused me physical pain.

    * Except for the fantastic former students who might be reading this blog. You guys made it all worth it. You are the future. Be all you can be.

  2. Sydney9:25 PM

    Too bad Silas was not a student of yours. I would have paid to read his paper.

  3. How much would you have paid? I'm sure Silas and I can work out something...

  4. Sydney, you are sly witticism at its best.

  5. BTW, Silas, Sidney has been coming around here crticizing me for months. And, generally speaking, his criticisms make me belly laugh.

    Sidney, maybe you can offer Silas some "How to be critical without being an a**hole lessons"?

    Oh, and, BTW, is my assumption that you are a Brit correct? (I gleaned this from the fact that you seem to use our language in the same funny way that many other Brits are attached to.)

  6. point to this exercise I'm missing?

    I don't know. It builds character?

    Maybe it is because it is what the teacher knows. The teacher is comfortable with such things, so it is easier for the teacher to assign and grade such things.

  7. It teaches students an essential rule for making it into middle managment jobs: they learn to suck up and follow arbitrary rules, even if the rules are worthless from a business perspective. Some vice-president will have a fetish to which they need to show respect.

  8. Gene, I`m afraid I don`t understand the context in which you`re teaching, but if these are college or high school students then I think the exercise of documenting support for one`s position is worth it.

    But you might give them alternatives, like having them write blog posts with links

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