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Extra Credit / Opinion Paper - Requirements and Sample

Extra Credit / Opinion Paper - Requirements  & Sample


( Extra credit may not be offered to all classes - check your class syllabus or contact the instructor)




This is not a research assignment, and I do not want other people's ideas, solutions, or responses.  I want your own personal opinion; your own words, not others.    Also, you should not be turning-in papers that you have used in other classes.  Above all else, the paper should be as close to 100% opinion based as possible, written in your own words.  


Write about your opinions or observations concerning a social issue from the list of topic issues on the class syllabus.  I am looking for your interpretations, your viewpoints, and your own original perspectives.  Write about what you think we are doing right and/or doing wrong with respect to dealing with the issue.  What are some of your solutions, or ideas regarding this issue?  Why do you think this is an important problem or social issue, and how does it impact our society?  This is what I want you to write about in this opinion paper.


- By the due date, you will submit your paper directly to ""


""   is an online website where students submit their papers electronically.  The site compares every submitted paper to a set of databases, made-up of the content of the internet, a collection of original work such as books, and previous papers submitted in the past to "turnitin".  The purpose is to make sure students turn in original work, by identifying papers containing unoriginal material.  This will help to reduce the possibility of plagiarism".  ( Turnitin Website)



Paper Requirements:


1)  Choose a topicExtra Credit Paper TOPIC CHOICES -   Choose one of the following to write on:

-  Indian gambling casinos        -  Legalized gambling        - State lottery,

- Illegal music / video downloading from the Internet

-Selling of Human Organs / body parts

- Plagiarism & cheating in schools

-  Men only or Women only clubs, gyms, organizations, golf course, beaches, etc.

- Special interest groups / lobbyists in politics

- American elections & voting system - changes & suggestions

- Same sex only classrooms in schools- Good or Bad ?

- Religion in politics            - Religious warfare     

- United Nations- Good or Bad?

- Foreign countries investing / buying in the U.S.    

- Out-sourcing American jobs to other countries

- U.S. spreading democracy around the world

- Parental permission for  birth control for minors

- Anonymous drop-off stations for unwanted newborn babies

-Women in military / combat

- U.S. Space program & space exploration

- DNA testing to solve crimes

- Government control of energy & fuel

- Homelessness in the U.S.          -  Poverty in the U.S., 

American Schools- Good & Bad

- Terrorism          -    Suicide Bombers

- Nuclear Weapons & warfare.


2)   Paper length  and value of the paper.  The paper should be between 1000 - 1100 words ( 1000 words absolute minimum).   Be sure to write an accurate word count at the end of the paper.  Papers shorter than the minimum may only receive up to 50% credit if any.  Papers that are way too short of the minimum, will not receive any credit.  Grading is not based on whether I agree or disagree with your opinion about the social issue.  Full credit  can be obtained by submitting the paper on time, and writing a proper paper. You will only receive partial credit, if any, for the following:  papers that are too short in length,  not following instructions, and late papers.   No credit will be given for term papers or research papers.  It must be opinion-based.  See the class syllabus for the value of the paper.  Opinion papers may have different values than extra credit papers.  Consult the syllabus for the correct information.

Late papers may be accepted for no more than 50% credit.  


3)  Paper content.   Your paper may include your personal stories or experiences in regards to the issue you are writing about, but keep the focus on the larger social issue and not so much on the background and details of your own story. Your personal experiences should be used only as the backdrop and the concentration should be on the more important social issue ( use no  more than 10% of the writing talking about the personal side).


- You should not use much, if any, ( research information, quotations, background data, or paraphrasing from other articles or sources.  Using those makes your paper a research paper or term paper, instead of an opinion response paper.  You can include a small bit of information from source material in order to incorporate your own ideas.  But it is better if you do not have to rely on any outside source material.  No more than 10% of the writing should be paraphrased, quoted , or referenced.  You will not get credit for writing a term / research paper.


If you do use, up to 10% reference information in the paper, you need to absolutely credit your source.  It can be as simple as  ( i.e.,   In an article I read by Jim Johnson, he said that ...).  The referenced material must be credited to the source, ( as described for example) in order to avoid plagiarizing.  Anything copied directly from the source should be in "quotation marks".  I will assume that any words you write in your paper are original words and original ideas, unless it is in quotation marks or referenced to another source.


-  If you do not credit your sources. You are guilty of plagiarism.  See the "Plagiarism Warning" below.  Plagiarism, even " Accidental Plagiarism" has serious consequences.


4)  Submit the paper  by the due date:   See the class syllabus for the final due date for handing the paper in.  Instructions for submitting the paper are given below.  The paper can be handed-in early, before the final due date.



Requirements for submitting a paper to ""

1)   Go to ""You must create a student profile.  You will need to give your e-mail address and your name.  You will be asked for the Class I.D. and Class Password.  Consult your class syllabus for this information; it is listed on front page of the syllabus.  If you cannot find the necessary information, contact me immediately for help. On the "Turnitin" homepage there is a link at the top of the page for "Training- getting started" where you can watch a student video ( about 2 minutes long) .  You might find this helpful. There is another link on the right hand side of the "Turnitin" homepage titled "What is plagiarism? - learn more".  You are required to read this section and understand what constitutes plagiarism.  It is expected that before you submit your first paper, you have an understanding of what plagiarism is, and how to avoid it.  Since you are required to read this section before submission, there are no accepted excuses for plagiarizing,  such as,  you made a mistake, or did not know what you did was wrong.  

2)   Once you have successfully created your student profile, you are ready to submit papers.   Papers must be submitted to "Turnitin" prior  to the due date.  Late papers will be documented by "Turnitin", and your grade will be reduced by 50%.  Do not submit any papers directly to the instructor.  I do not want e-mailed copies or hard copies brought to class.

-You must submit your papers on time, by the due date, even if you are not going to be in class.

"Turnitin" does not grade your papers.   "Turnitin" sends an originality report to the instructor, comparing the student's submitted paper to a variety of source databases.  This service points out similarities in the papers, and it is up to the instructor to determine if plagiarism has occurred.   If it is found that the student plagiarized any part of the paper, that is grounds for automatic and immediate failure in the class.  See the "Plagiarism Warning" that follows.

Plagiarism Warning

This "Plagiarism Warning" serves as your only warning before official action is taken.

- When you "borrow" other people's ideas or paraphrase without referencing them as your source; or if you copy their exact words without quotation marks or reference, you are guilty of plagiarism. 

- If it is established that you are guilty of plagiarism, it is a very serious academic offense.  You cannot simply re-do the paper, or do some other extra credit in order to compensate for it. If you do plagiarize, you will fail the class on the grounds of cheating by plagiarizing. Regardless of how well you are doing otherwise, you will automatically fail the class and you will be reported to school officials.

- The excuses that " you did not mean to do it", or " it was an accident", or   "you did not know it was wrong", etc. is irrelevant.  "Accidental Plagiarism "  has serious consequences, and is still grounds for failing the class, and for any other action taken by the college administration. 

- You can avoid any chance of plagiarism altogether, by not doing any research, and not consulting other sources before writing this paper.   I want your own opinions anyway, not what other people said, or what other people think. 

To be safe, do not research or consult other sources before writing .    Remember: PERSONAL OPINION.


Sample Paper


John Doe

Big State College

Intro Sociology -  M/W  9:30 am

U.S. Spreading Democracy around the World


     For myself, and I believe many other Americans, it is hard to justify our invasion into Iraq.  There are however, still people who find comfort in the thought that we were securing the regional safety, and our own safety for that matter, by searching for weapons of mass destruction, even though it turns out those weapons did not exist.  Some say that we are only there for oil, while others emphasize that we have brought democracy to a land that has been under a terrible dictatorship.  This last argument, the spreading of democracy, stirs my emotions in all the wrong ways when I hear people make that particular claim.

     To begin with, I find it hard to believe that Iraqis today are better off now than they were before our invasion.  Our "spreading of democracy" into their country has created an unstable government that is barely capable of functioning, and I find it hard to believe that the citizens are any more "free" now than they were previously.  Services have been interrupted, street violence, chaos, and warfare is still being perpetrated by terrorists, and I believe that the citizens of Iraq are being victimized in ways that are as bad, or perhaps even worse than the terror of Saddam.  On a whole, the war on terrorism in Iraq has been a catastrophe, and our present administration is doing very little to admit it's mistakes, or try to fix them.  If spreading democracy into the country is truly the United States' motive for invading Iraq, then the plan failed in my estimation.

     This of course begs the question: Should we even be spreading democracy about the world?  Personally, I find our methods of spreading democracy absolutely contradictory to the very concept of freedom.  If democracy really is meant for a people, then they should be allowed to choose it themselves, and not have it forced upon them by outsiders.  Freedom must be earned, and I feel that it can only be earned through fierce determination and perseverance.  The English-American colonists, when trying to escape harsh rule, fought the British, declared their own independence and freedom, thus forming the United States of America.  I think that to embrace democracy, a country must come together and announce as a unified whole that they want the freedom that a democracy can bring, and they must be prepared to fight for it.  I am not certain that the Iraqi government or the people of Iraq have been proactive enough in sustaining a self-sufficient democracy. 

     If a country invades another country and forcibly shifts the political structure to that of a democracy, then they have themselves, committed a terrible crime against freedom and sovereignty.  In essence, we have invaded Iraq and done this very thing.  We did not enter peacefully, and we did not suggest a political restructuring, instead we forcibly applied our democratic values to a newly developing political structure.  I believe we have coerced and "strong-armed" the new Iraqi government to develop in the manner that we advocate is correct.  It is a great irony to suggest that the United States values freedom and individual right to choose, and then we go about the business of ignoring the freedom of other countries and their sovereign rights, and force-feed them our concept of democracy.

     I believe that democracy and freedom truly are the best way for people to live their lives comfortably, however, the problem is that people of sheltered or harshly ruled countries may never consider freedom or democracy, perhaps out of fear or simple ignorance.  I feel that the way to get around the problem, and allow others to use their free will to accept democracy, is to maintain our principals in our own country, and show others what they are missing out on.  We must model and inspire other countries by example,  the benefits of a democratic system.  We have to be worthy of respect, in order to provide examples of the possibilities. And, as our country is not perfect ( we routinely have corporate, political, and social scandals), it is no wonder that we have not recently "inspired" many other countries to welcome democracy upon their soil.  You do not want to hire a housekeeper, that keeps their own house in disarray.

     I suppose another method of spreading democracy could be through monetary support to build schools in less fortunate countries with the hope that education might bring about change in their viewpoints about the structure of their own political system that may be lacking the freedoms offered in democracy.  This can also present problems, if schools become too preachy and citizens feel as though they are being coerced through education.  Whether or not adaptation of democracy through education could work would greatly depend on those in charge of instruction, and the willingness of the citizens of the country to participate in such an endeavor.  While this method is a possible means of spreading democratic ideals, it is a long term project.  It might take years and generations to change the biases that people have ingrained in the culture. 

    I final observation that requires some attention in regards to the United States and it's spreading of democracy stems from the fact that we are not the world's police force ( at least we should not be).  I am not sure how or when the idea came about that it is our duty to patrol the world, but I do feel that it is an arrogant and ethnocentric viewpoint that should be extinguished.  The lifestyles of others, however distant or alien they seem to us, require a certain level of respect, or minimal interference, however cruel or unusual they may seem.  Every society has a right to live life on their own terms, irregardless of whether or not it meets with the approval of the American people or the American government.  Sometimes our "helping hand" can be perceived as an " iron fist", and good intentions can be interpreted as meddling.  Our desire to do good and help others develop a lifestyle like our own, has created a degree of hatred against the United States and American people in general.

     I feel that our effort, money, and time can be better spent trying to fix the numerous domestic problems our nation faces, rather than spending those resources in pursuit of spreading democracy around the world.  I feel that other nations might be more inspired to freely and openly accept democracy if we serve as a shining example of the good that democracy can produce.  Word count - 1092 words


* Excerpted from actual student papers.  This may be a compilation of several students original work combined in a single paper and reprinted as a sample paper.




 Updated Wednesday, August 22, 2007 at 6:54:45 AM by Mark Pasion -
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