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Academic Research & Writing

Course Details

Course Number
Section Number
Fall 2016
Bolin Hall
Classroom Number
Days & Times

MWF 11:00-11:50 AM

Dr. Peter Fields (view Profile)


LB Brief
6th ed.
The Martian
Andy Weir
Course Objectives


Andy Weir. The Martian. Broadway Books (Crown/Penguin) 2015. 978-1-101-90500-5

Jane E. Aaron. LB Brief. 6th (or any recent) edition. ISBN 978-0-13-412306-6.

  • Apply knowledge of rhetoric to make decisions about written communication.
  • Engage in a writing process that includes invention, drafting, and revision.
  • Write thesis-based academic arguments that provide strong support and specific details.
  • Find, evaluate, and synthesize credible sources in support of a research paper
  • Use sources ethically and in contextually appropriate ways and follow a designated style guide: i.e., MLA. See MLA Documentation and Format in LB Brief.
  • Demonstrate proficient use of Standard Written English.
  • Additional information about course objectives can be found on the department webpage,


Course Expectations

Assignments and percentage value of semester grade: Students produce approx. 5000 words of graded writing for 100 % of the grade. 


  • Three typed double-spaced (12 point font Times New Roman or Garamond) essays. Each is approx. 1000 words (three pages) and 10 percent grade value (30 percent of semester grade for all three).
  • Each of the three typed essays begins as a substantial in-class typed paragraph (300 words/one page) with 5 percent grade value (15 percent for all three).
  • The first typed paragraph serves as a diagnostic for purposes of assessment in the English program.
  • Students exchange and evaluate each other’s 300 word paragraphs by writing a Peer Review response which is graded with a rubric (5 percent).
  • The second and third typed essays practice using secondary sources introduced by Moffett Library’s Faculty Partners.
  • The researched academic argument is approx. 2000 words (six pages) worth 40 percent of the semester grade. Secondary sources must be approved by Dr. Fields and/or Faculty Partners.
  • The final exam is a typed in-class response to a prompt students receive the last regular class period (10 percent of the semester grade).
  • All submitted typed work must have proper MLA format as indicated in the LB Brief. Grammar is a factor in the grade.


Grading Standards


This class will not use the plus/minus grading system. In this class, the following numerical equivalents for final grades are used: A = 100-90%; B = 89-80%; C = 79-70%; D = 69-60%; F = 59-0%. 

According to MSU’s Undergraduate Catalogue, “letter grades have the following significance:

  • A indicates excellent work
  • B indicates good work
  • C indicates satisfactory work
  • D indicates passing work
  • F indicates failing work.” 

Consequently, essays that meet the basic requirements earn a C, not an A or B.  If you wish to earn As and Bs, you will have to work harder to produce better than satisfactory, or average, writing.

Final Exam 12/12/2016 1:00-3:00 PM
Submission Format Policy

GRAMMAR & the LB Brief. Students must show improvement in their syntax, punctuation, and readability over the course of the semester. The instructor will indicate grammar and punctuation errors when evaluating the typed essays. He will note where in the LB Brief more discussion can be found: e.g., LB 35 for fragments, LB 36 for run-on problems (fused sentences and comma splices), and LB 39 for commas. 

MLA citing & the LB Brief. Students need to demonstrate their ideas by citing relevant passages in The Martian. For the argument-based research paper, students must also cite relevant passages from secondary sources. Most students will use scholarly articles from professional journals as found in the Moffett-supported databases. Students must cite their sources according to MLA format as found in the LB Brief. STUDENTS WILL NEED THEIR LB BRIEF IN CLASS IN ORDER TO FOLLOW ALONG.

PROPER SUBMISSION (typed work must be hole-punched & fixed in the brads of a folder):

  • All typed documents must be 12 point Times New Roman double-spaced.
  • For header and page number in the .5 default position: click on “insert,” then “page number,” “top of page,” and “plain number 3.” The cursor will show to the immediate left of the page number. Simply type your last name, and it will magically appear. Space once between name and number.
  • Top, right, and bottom margins should be set at one inch; the left margin should be an inch and a quarter to accommodate the folder.
  • NOT A HEADER: On the first page of an essay, the student name, instructor name, course, and date should be in the upper left, double-spaced.
  • Students must submit their work in person (from their hands into the instructor’s hands). Submission for a due-date is never by e-mail attachment or under the office door, or left on a desk, or by surrogate (classmate or relative).
  • FOLDER WITH BRADS & POCKETS. Typed assignments are holed-punched and fixed in the brads of the folder. Whatever needs to be graded is always the last item in the brads. Rubrics with grades will be in the front-pocket.
  • For the research paper, complete print-outs of scholarly articles (from the Moffett-supported databases) are provided in the back pocket of the folder.
  • If students are using books from the Moffett stacks, photocopies of title pages and cited pages are in the back pocket too.
  • By enrolling in this class, the student expressly grants MSU a “limited right” in all intellectual property created by the student for the purpose of this course.  The “limited right” shall include but shall not be limited to the right to reproduce the student’s work product in order to verify originality and authenticity, and for educational purposes.
  • Dr. Fields reserves the right to ask students to send him a computer file of their research project and/other work by e-mail attachment for archival purposes.


Note: You may not submit a paper for a grade in this class that already has been (or will be) submitted for a grade in another course, unless you obtain the explicit written permission of me and the other instructor involved in advance.
Late Paper Policy

An assignment is late if submitted after the class period it is due. If late by one period, the assignment will be penalized 10 points. If late by two class periods, the essay is penalized 20 points (the penalty is capped at 20 points). All work must be submitted in person (not by e-mail or surrogate).

Plagiarism Policy

Plagiarism is the use of someone else's thoughts, words, ideas, or lines of argument in your own work without appropriate documentation (a parenthetical citation at the end and a listing in "Works Cited")-whether you use that material in a quote, paraphrase, or summary. It is a theft of intellectual property and will not be tolerated, whether intentional or not.

Student Honor Creed

As an MSU Student, I pledge not to lie, cheat, steal, or help anyone else do so."

As students at MSU, we recognize that any great society must be composed of empowered, responsible citizens. We also recognize universities play an important role in helping mold these responsible citizens. We believe students themselves play an important part in developing responsible citizenship by maintaining a community where integrity and honorable character are the norm, not the exception.

Thus, We, the Students of Midwestern State University, resolve to uphold the honor of the University by affirming our commitment to complete academic honesty. We resolve not only to be honest but also to hold our peers accountable for complete honesty in all university matters.

We consider it dishonest to ask for, give, or receive help in examinations or quizzes, to use any unauthorized material in examinations, or to present, as one's own, work or ideas which are not entirely one's own. We recognize that any instructor has the right to expect that all student work is honest, original work. We accept and acknowledge that responsibility for lying, cheating, stealing, plagiarism, and other forms of academic dishonesty fundamentally rests within each individual student.

We expect of ourselves academic integrity, personal professionalism, and ethical character. We appreciate steps taken by University officials to protect the honor of the University against any who would disgrace the MSU student body by violating the spirit of this creed.

Written and adopted by the 2002-2003 MSU Student Senate.

Students with Disabilities

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please contact the Disability Support Services in Room 168 of the Clark Student Center, (940) 397-4140.

Safe Zones Statement

The professor considers this classroom to be a place where you will be treated with respect as a human being - regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, political beliefs, age, or ability. Additionally, diversity of thought is appreciated and encouraged, provided you can agree to disagree. It is the professor's expectation that ALL students consider the classroom a safe environment.

Contacting your Instructor

All instructors in the Department have voicemail in their offices and MWSU e-mail addresses. Make sure you add your instructor's phone number and e-mail address to both email and cell phone lists of contacts.

Attendance Requirements

More than six absences will result in penalty to the overall semester grade. The seventh absence will result in the loss of 10 percent from the final semester grade. Absence is based on the instructor’s attendance record and attendance is taken at the beginning of the period. All absences count under this policy including illness, MSU sports, and MSU theatre. NOTE: If a sport’s or theatre schedule exceeds six absences, the additional absences must be documented and communicated by the relevant MSU authority to avoid the penalty. Extended health concerns beyond the six absences also require relevant documentation—otherwise the penalty of 10 percent applies

Other Policies

NO USE OF PERSONAL ELECTRONICS (phones, ear-buds, etc) is permitted in class unless the instructor has given specific permission. Students who are not participating in class will be warned and if their problem persists, the instructor reserves the right to remove them. 

ENGLISH DEPARTMENT POLICY: Plagiarism is the use of someone else’s thoughts, words, ideas, or lines of argument in your own work without appropriate documentation (a parenthetical citation at the end and a listing in "Works Cited")–whether you use that material in a quote, paraphrase, or summary. 

Plagiarism and Proper Documentation:

Any use of a non-documented source as if it were a student’s original work is considered plagiarism and academic dishonesty. Plagiarism can be of ideas; it can be of exact phrasing. In either or both cases, if the student has failed to acknowledge the source in the body of the essay and to document it in the Works Cited, the grade will be a “0” (no points) for the assignment even if the rest of the assignment is original and use of other sources properly documented. Upon being informed of the plagiarism, the student is no longer welcome in the class. The student may withdraw from the course with a penalty-free “W” if available; if not, the student must cease attending and the grade will be whatever points the student has accumulated minus the plagiarized document and any other tests or assignment as yet not completed (which are forfeit).  If the student continues to attend, the instructor will contact the Dean of Students or Student Conduct office and withdraw the student with a WF. 

Phrasing that is too close to the student’s own documented sources:

Students who reproduce the phrasing of their documented source(s) as if it were their own phrasing will be penalized for language that is too close to source. Verbatim use of a documented source must be confined to QUOTES set off with quotation marks or ten extra spaces on the left if the verbatim passage works out to be five or more lines of student typing or handwriting. All such quoting requires parenthetical page numbers if provided in the source. Even if page numbers are not provided, the language must be clearly attributed to the author and set off by quotation marks or an extra ten inches on the left.WRITING CENTER Begin drafting papers as early as possible and take advantage of the MSU Writing Center, located off the 2nd floor atrium of Prothro-Yeager! Tutoring is available Monday through Thursday from 9am to 4pm; you can also find a tutor at the satellite location in Moffett Library Honors Lounge, Sunday and Thursday from 6pm to 9pm.  Writing tutors will not edit your papers for you, but they will provide support and feedback at every stage of the writing process, from brainstorming to drafting, revising to proofreading.

Writing Proficiency Requirement

All students seeking a Bachelor's degree from Midwestern State University must satisfy a writing proficiency requirement once they've 1) passed the 6 hours of Communication Core and and 2) earned 60 hours. You may meet this requirement by passing either the Writing Proficiency Exam or English 2113. Please keep in mind that, once you've earned over 90 hours, you lose the opportunity to take the $25 exam and have no option but to enroll in the three-credit hour course. If you have any questions about the exam, visit the Writing Proficiency Office website at, or call 397-4131.

Calendar Attachment

ENGL 1143 115 Syllabus & Tentative Schedule

Campus Carry

Senate Bill 11 passed by the 84th Texas Legislature allows licensed handgun holders to carry concealed handguns on campus, effective August 1, 2016. Areas excluded from concealed carry are appropriately marked, in accordance with state law. For more information regarding campus carry, please refer to the University’s webpage at

If you have questions or concerns, please contact MSU Chief of Police Patrick Coggins at