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Term Paper: Which is the lesser of two evils?

Jess 1 / 1  
Nov 26, 2006   #1
Okay, I have a term paper due soon. The topic was of the students' choosing, with the only real limits being that the topic had to be argumentative and that the essay had to be 6-8 pages long, double-spaced. My topic is "The Fine Arts Should be More Emphasized in Public Schools." Unfortuantely, I'm having trouble stretching out the topic to 6 pages. It's far too late to switch topics, so my question is:

Is it worse to fall short of the required number of pages, but have a good, solid essay that establishes my point?

Or is it worse to reach the required page count but have the majority of the essay be pointless filler?

Right now, I'm leaning towards the first option.
EF_Team2 1 / 1,708  
Nov 26, 2006   #2

Unfortunately, it probably depends on your instructor. For some, a minimum is a minimum, and to fall short is to receive an automatic deduction. Others might not see it that way. I can give you some thoughts on how to lengthen your paper, which you may or may not have employed already:

1. Present the opposite argument and show how it is flawed.
2. You don't say whether this essay requires the use of sources. If it is allowed, do some additional research and include quotes from the authors. Remember that, under APA citation rules, direct quotations of more than 40 words are put in their own paragraph in a free-standing block quotation on a new line, indented five spaces from the left margin. This can take up a lot of room!

3. Extend your subject to include a comparison with what is taught in private schools, or to explore the history of fine arts in the public schools -- how did the teaching of fine arts in public schools begin? What trends or social phenomena caused this to change over time?

4. Use the maximum margins allowed.

The only way to really know whether a lower page count is acceptable for this assignment is to ask your instructor, but if that's not an option for you, I hope these suggestions will help.

Best of luck!


Sarah, EssayForum.com
OP Jess 1 / 1  
Nov 27, 2006   #3
Hello! Yes, I'm sorry I didn't mention- we have to have between 10 and 12 sources. We're also using MLA, but block citations still take up a good chunk of space. :)

I will definitely take all your advice into consideration, thank you! I'm already using maximum margins, and I would be using Arial font instead of Times, but my instructor already caught onto that.

The trouble I was having was that he is usually the type of person who absolutely hates "padded" work. Sweet and simple and to the point. Why he decided to require such an unusual page count is beyond me.
EF_Team2 1 / 1,708  
Nov 27, 2006   #4
Hm, yes, I've run into that phenomen myself! For as picky as some instructors can be, it often appears that they have not truly thought the assignment all the way through.

When possible, add yet another source!

I wish you the best!

Sarah, EssayForum.com

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