GEOG 460 Research Paper Guidelines Food Systems and Emerging Markets


The research paper assignment for this class is to research a selected food related topic and write about what you find out. The research could focus on a number of different things. The commodity chain is a standard interest of economic geographers. One could write a paper on the commodity chain of the lettuce industry. One could also write a paper about the decline of the avocado industry in California and where the avocados went. Or, one could write about the wine industry. Or any other industry – fish come to mind, local fish, chocolate, French wine, Norwegian fish. There are a host of topics to research. Let me know if you have trouble. And I can suggest more.


In your research papers, you should use academic journal articles and books for the most part. If you are researching a topic that is more contemporary, I would expect some newspaper articles, perhaps a magazine article (Please not GQ or similar) and other data (e.g., a government report, statistics, etc.). Because your topics will vary, you have some flexibility. Use the number of sources you feel is appropriate and no less than 10 in the final paper. And finally, DO NOT USE SOLELY REFERENCES FROM WIKIPEDIA, RANDOM INTERNET SITES, OR OTHER SIMILAR SORTS OF SOURCES. The requirement is for the vast majority of your sources to be peer-reviewed articles or books. You will be penalized for not using peer reviewed sources.

Writing Your Paper:

Your paper should have the following:

1) An interesting introductory paragraph with a thesis statement.

2) An “In this paper” paragraph, which is the second paragraph of the paper. This paragraph lays out the basic argument and framework of the paper. Some people call it the “map”. I prefer the In this paper designation because your paragraph should literally start out with the words “In this paper,” and go on to explain what the paper is going to do.

3) Evidence presented in an ordered and considered manner.

4) A conclusion. Sometimes people repeat what they said in the first part of the paper. That is the easy way out. Another way is to provide some direction and assessment of the topic, areas or things to look for.

Proper Citations:

There are basically two things to know about citations: first, how to cite a source in the text, and second, how to cite a source in the bibliography. Bibliography for the purposes of this class means a list of all sources cited in your paper. IT DOES NOT MEAN AND SHOULD NOT BE A LIST OF “RESOURCES CONSULTED.”

The rules for the bibliography in this class are the standard rules for the Annals of the Association of American Geographers (the leading journal for all geographers in the U.S.)

Class Style Guide:

Citing in the body of the text:

In-text citations are really simple and thus widely used because they easily refer the reader back to the bibliography. The citation goes inside the parentheses at the end of the clause, quotation or sentence, or paragraph where the cited data is located. The basic sequence is: open parenthesis, author’s last name, comma, date of publication, close parenthesiS; for example: (Guthey et al., 2013). If you are citing from a specific page in the author’s text, the sequence is: open parenthesis, author’s last name, comma, date of publication, comma, page number, close parenthesis. If you are including the author’s name in the text, use their full name on first reference, and only their last name and date thereafter. For example, on first reference: Greig Guthey (2004) argues that the California wine industry is a form of industrial district. On subsequent references: Guthey (2004) suggests that land use politics is central to the emergence of a more sustainable wine industry.

Example #1

Manuel Castells (1996, 65) claims the new economy is “informational because the productivity and competitiveness of units of agents… fundamentally depend upon their capacity to generate, process, and apply efficiently knowledge-based information.” [Note: use full names on first references, last names only on subsequent references; so a second reference would look like this: Castells (1996)…. Also the number 65 after the comma refers to the page number where a reader would look to find and confirm the information you are using. ]

Example #2

An alternative view to the notion of “new times” is that capitalism as a system is in a constant process of geographical readjustment, which among critical geographers sometimes involves the declining rate of profit and a related “spatial fix” (Harvey, 1982). From this geographical perspective, new times are another round of restructuring, albeit on a perhaps larger scale. [Note that here we only use last names even if it is a first reference because Harvey is not used in the actual sentence; his name only appears as a reference to the idea of spatial fix, which is the general subject of his book.]

The Bibliography:

Single Author Books

In both of the examples in the preceding section, bibliographic references are as follows:

Castells, M. 1996. The Rise of the Network Society. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.

Harvey, D. 1982. The Limits to Capital. Oxford: Basil Blackwell Publishers.

Multiple references by the same author or authors.

Two or more references to works by the same author are listed chronologically, replacing the author’s name with three “Em dashes” after the first listed source. “Em dashes” are a special character that you can find in Microsoft Word on the Insert Menu. Click on Symbol and then Special characters, which brings up a list of characters. Em dash should be the first on the list. Now for examples. If one had two different articles by David Harvey, one would have the following in chronological order:

Harvey, D. 1982. The Limits to Capital. Oxford: Basil Blackwell Publishers.

———. 1989. The Condition of Postmodernity. Oxford: Basil Blackwell Publishers.

Multiple Author books:

Fairfax, S.K., L. Dyble, G. Guthey, L. Gwin, J. Sokolov, and M. Moore. 2012. California Cuisine and Just Food, Cambridge: The MIT Press.

Academic Journals:

Smythe-Jones, X., L. Emmetson, and Q. Garraty. 1995. The art of copyediting: Nitpicking never ends. American Journal of Copyediting 27:167–89.

———. 2000. Further picking of nits: Stuff I forgot to mention. American Journal of Copyediting 32 (2): 101–57.

Websites and internet (Remember, don’t use these too much):

An article available on the web:

Schultz, T. 2000. The Dairy Industry in Tulare County. Davis: University of California Cooperative Extension (Notice that I removed the hyperlink by right clicking and selecting “remove hyperlink,” a maneuver that takes the underlined blue text away. Pretty cool, huh?)

A website:

Rise Above Plastics. 2009. An Ocean of Plastic. (last accessed 5 February 2009).

Other sources:


Hart, J. 2000. Tomales Bay Convergence: 171 Sick Oyster Eaters Can’t Be Wrong. California Coast and Ocean 16(3):14-19.


Apple Jr., R.W. 2001. A New Normandy North of the Golden Gate. The New York Times 28 November, F1.

Other special cases:

Check out this style guide on the web first, and then ask me if you still can’t figure it out:

Of Special Note:


· In the completion of this project, the draft is essential as it will allow you fair warning concerning any changes, suggestions, or issues that you will need to address to get a better grade.

· Of course, it is also your choice whether to hand in a draft. The pathway is up to you.

Grading Rubric for the paper:

This rubric focuses on the paper. I will be using a matrix in excel that will assign weights and scores for each section of the rubric. The measures are 0-3. That will then be totaled and weighted to assign a value to the final paper for the final grade.

The Superior Paper (A):

Thesis: Easily identifiable, sophisticated, insightful, crystal clear, located in first paragraph.

Structure: Evident, understandable, and appropriate.

Analysis: Poses new ways to think of the material and demonstrates effort and understanding.

Logic: All ideas in the paper flow logically; the argument is identifiable, reasonable, and sound.

Mechanics: Sentence structure and grammar excellent for college level writers; minimal to no spelling errors; absolutely no run-on sentences or comma splices. This paper has obviously been carefully written and proofread (possibly more than once.)

The Good Paper (A-/B+):

Thesis: Promising, but may be slightly unclear, ambiguous, or equivocal.

Structure: Generally clear and appropriate, though may wander occasionally.

Analysis: Demonstrates effort but may not be entirely original or fresh and exciting.

Logic: Argument of paper is mostly clear, usually flows logically and makes sense.

Mechanics: Sentence structure and grammar strong despite occasional lapses; some minor spelling errors, perhaps obvious spell-checker errors; may have a few run-on sentences or comma splices (which are all indications of less than adequate proofreading).

The Borderline Paper (B/B-):

Thesis: Slightly unclear to unclear (containing many vague terms), appears unoriginal; provides little around which to structure the paper.

Structure: May wander or jump around.

Analysis: Some to a little analysis. Lower grade indicates analysis demonstrates little engagement with topic.

Logic: Logic may often fail, or argument may often be unclear or not make sense.

Mechanics: Problems in sentence structure, word choice, and grammar (usually not major). Errors in punctuation, citation style, and spelling. May have several run-on sentences or comma splices. Lack of proofreading

The “Needs Help” Paper (C+/C):

Thesis: Difficult to identify, may be bland restatement of obvious point.

Structure: Unclear, often because thesis is weak or non-existent.

Analysis: Little attempt to make an identifiable argument. Higher grade will show some evidence of effort

Logic: Ideas generally do not flow at all, usually because there is no argument to support. Simplistic view of topic; no effort to grasp possible alternative views or complexity of the issues at hand.

Mechanics: Big problems in sentence structure, grammar, and diction. Frequent major errors in punctuation and spelling. Many run-on sentences and comma splices.

The Very Bad Paper (C-/D):

Thesis: Difficult to identify at all, or just not there.

Structure: Unclear, often because thesis is weak or non-existent.

Analysis: Very little or very weak attempt at an argument; lower grades will have no identifiable argument.

Logic: Ideas do not flow at all, usually because there is no argument to support. Simplistic view of topic and its relevance.

Mechanics: Big big problems. Frequent major errors in punctuation, and spelling. May have an overabundance of run-on sentences and comma splices. Obvious lack of effort.

The Failing Paper: Demonstrates no college-level effort or comprehension of the assignment or student fails to complete the paper that was assigned. These papers will generally be very difficult to understand owing to major problems with mechanics, structure, and analysis. They will have no identifiable thesis, or an utterly incompetent thesis that makes no sense. These papers may be significantly shorter than assigned. There may be obvious attempts to bolster length with a half page devoted to one’s name, wider margins, larger fonts and the like. Or students may have just a list of bullet points and the like. Or, plagiarism.

What is Plagiarism?: Plagiarism includes: (a) quoting another person’s actual words or copying a web page verbatim without acknowledgement; (b) paraphrasing another person’s words without acknowledgement; (c) using another person’s idea, opinion, or theory without acknowledgement; or (d) borrowing of facts, statistics, or other material, unless the information is common knowledge, or (e) copying from another person’s exams, homework, quizzes, etc. Any instances will be reported to the Dean of Students for proper action. Consequences include failing the assignment, failing the course, extra work, probation, suspension, and expulsion.

Plagiarism also includes copying and pasting documents and language from any electronic source without attribution, AND using papers submitted for other course work in a prior, or concurrent course that you are taking, i.e., self-plagiarism.


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