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Latin American Studies

Latin American Studies

Robert Clark, Director
College of Arts and Sciences
Kansas State University
c/o Department of Modern Languages
14A Eisenhower Hall
Manhattan, KS 66506


General Guidelines

DAS 507: Senior Research in Latin American Studies
DAS 525: Senior Research in International Studies

1. General Purpose / Objectives. The DAS 507 or 525 research paper offers you the opportunity to demonstrate your ability to research a topic of your choice within the general academic guidelines. You have taken courses in different disciplines, so you are now ready to draw from that experience by applying possibly different perspectives in the selection, presentation, and analysis of a particular international problem, theme or topic. 

2. Open Topic: you may choose your own topic for your paper. It should be of interest to you and a theme that you will want to research. Some students anticipate graduate studies by doing a project that will help them define a problem, research an issue, or explore a general concept or theme. Your topic must be approved by me. Don't do the paper, hoping that I will approve the topic when you are done.

3. Length. Oh yes, length! Always the question of the day. I do not require that the paper have a minimum number of pages. That being said, I do want the paper to be an example of serious research by the student. The average length may vary according to the topic chosen. Consider 25-40 pages as a rough guide. Anything less must be justified by being concise and obviously complete in its treatment of the selected topic. More than 40 pages is too much for me.

4. Documentation. Follow the standard bibliographic form that is used in the discipline that you have chosen. Social sciences often follow guidelines established by the American Psychological Association [3rd edition]. Students in the humanities, especially literature, commonly use the rules of documentation of the Modern Language Association (now in its 6th edition). There are other style manuals, such as University of Chicago, and Turabian. Whichever one you use, be consistent by following its recommendations. I will only quarrel with you if your paper is not consistent in its documentation style.

5. Evaluation / Grading. We may agree that I will be the sole evaluator of your project. As an alternative, you may choose to work with a mentor of your own choosing. That person could be designated as the one who provides the grade for your work. Another option is to have that person recommend a grade to me, leaving me the ultimate authority and responsibility for the grade. I am happy to follow your wishes. If you choose a mentor, particularly one who has responsibility for grading your paper, it is important for that person to know the general objectives of this project. This is not a Master's thesis, nor is it a simple term paper. You are not attending class and doing a paper as part of the course requirements. Your paper IS the course requirement. Therefore, it should be serious work, but again, NOT a thesis. Sometimes mentors must be advised of this distinction.

6. Staying on Track. It is easy, ever so easy, when doing an "independent" study project to procrastinate. This is not a paper that can be written in a weekend. Not even two! You need to be working throughout the semester in order to finish on time with a product of which you can be proud. Below you will find some suggested dates. Note: these dates are not designed to correspond to any particular calendar year. If a date falls on a weekend, please just move it to the following Monday.

Selection of Topic:January 31June 5August 31
Initial Bibliography:February 25June 25September 20
First Draft:March 30July 10October 31
Final Paper:April 30July 25November 30

This time line allows me to help you along the way. If the final paper is unacceptable, there is time for you to make corrections before the grades are due. When you slip the paper under my door on the last day of finals, you give me little time to read your masterpiece, and no time to suggest changes that will improve the grade. (Besides, my generally good mood and cheerfulness turn to one of anxiousness and despair when I don't have sufficient time to read your work!)

7. Meetings / Communication. I am happy to meet with you to discuss your paper. You are responsible, however, for following the general guidelines, including the suggested time line. I won't "nag" you to get things done. I am happy to communicate with you via e-mail. In fact, it is a good way to reach me. We can make appointments to meet in my office as well, or perhaps over a cup of coffee in the K-State Union. I will try to send out general notices to students, reminding them not to forget about their papers. Ultimately, and appropriately, the responsibility for getting your work done is yours, not mine. Let me know how I can help. If I can't answer your question, I may know someone who can.

8. Time to get to work! Enjoy your project. Choose one that is fun and meaningful to you. Or at least practical. Good luck!

For more information, contact Robert L.A. Clark, Director, International and Area Studies, College of Arts and Sciences