I’ll be checking how many sources, yes, but I’ll be looking at how you use the sources you provide in your project.

*7-8 pages = 1,750-2,000 words +/-, using 12 point font, standard margins.


-1.  An essay that is at least 7-8 pages in length is NOT fundamentally different from the essays you’ve produced in the past.  You still need an introduction, body, and conclusion.  Your introduction should set up the project, name your main topics and sources, and end with a clear statement of what you will be presenting in the body of your essay.  In the body-section, you develop what you promised to present, offering examples and explanations to your reader, using outside sources to support your claims, and generally helping me to see this material the way you want me to see it.  (I often imagine that I am talking to the reader, and I find that helps me to aim at clarity and to stay focused.). In the conclusion, ideally, you remind your reader of what you’ve done and why it’s worth reading about.  Perhaps, you save a last insight or revealing details from your main focus (accident, person, authoritative source) to act as a hook or salute to the end – and that’s a good way to avoid being boring or merely repetitive.

-2.  In your essay, you should both explain and argue.  When you explain, your goal is to get the reader to understand what’s important about a topic; when you argue, your goal is to persuade the reader that your stance on a topic, that your analysis of a topic, is the right one.  “Right” here means credible and supported.

-3a.  You need at least six reliable sources in your Works Cited page beyond the assigned text or texts from our course that you are using as your foundation.    Those sources should be weighed in terms of number, credibility, utility, length, depth, and actual usage in your project by you.  So, this isn’t strictly a numbers game.    I’ll be checking how many sources, yes, but I’ll be looking at how you use the sources you provide in your project.

Note: You will need to use at least three academic sources drawn from the online library database (that you used in the online library workshop).  I can imagine wanting a scientific article on the effect of triggering the amygdala on human behavior in order to check Gonzales, perhaps, and to expand the discussion of the importance of the amydala.  Similarly, I could imagine wanting a scientific essay on risk factors for recreational sports in Hawaii, if I were expanding Gonzales’ chapter “Danger Zones.”  

At least three other sources may be less formal, but still credible; for example, a video-interview with TMM could be a very useful source, depending on your project; likewise, having Laurence Gonzales in a TED Talk going beyond—in a helpful way—our Deep Survival could be useful too.

A reminder:  These sources must be credible—written by authors with sufficient credentials and published in a source that is reputable.   The Library Workshops that have you working with library databases, for example, also emphasized reputable sources.  Technical sources and academic sources will be the best to use.  Technical sources and academic sources written by experts outside the media—professors, linguists, researchers—in peer-reviewed journals are more desirable than articles from within the popular media—newspapers, magazines, TV—because journalists are not typically experts on the topics they are writing about.  Documentary film clips of events and interviews will not necessarily be “academic,” but will qualify as the appropriate, less formal sources.  Finally, the established media is much more credible than Wikipedia, About.com, or random blogs, which are not edited and therefore remain academically untrustworthy.

-3b.  Your citations and “Works Cited” page must conform to MLA format as presented in the Online Library Workshop on MLA.  There is also an accessible section in the handbook that presents MLA citation I posted about a month ago in Canvas.  (Note to self: add link here.)   What matters most is that you document your sources as you use them in the body of the essay—and Gonzales is a good model for introducing sources—and in your Works Cited page.  On that page, you list in alphabetical order the actual sources you use in your essay.

Note: Gonzales gave us a “Selected Bibliography,” which is a partial list of his research materials, a list of the most important of those research materials; you don’t have to list all the materials you consulted; you only list the ones you used in your essay.

-4.  You should recognize the following tips from the practices of the authors of the books we’ve read this semester:  When you use evidence from experts—quotations, summaries, statistics, etc.—use signal phrases to introduce the author first, letting us know why this person is a credible source. You need to also explain the context of the quote or summary—what the study or article is about so the evidence makes sense. After you give the evidence, explain how the information relates to the other evidence from experts you have used. Does it agree or disagree with what they say? What new value does it add to the discussion? What weaknesses does the evidence have? Why do you trust it or  distrust it?


Here are the approaches I am recommending for developing your specific topic.

Please read the first one, especially, to get the sense of what I am expecting from your topic/project.


-Approach B: Do a Deep Survival Treatment on Other Athletes/Sport.

Write a “chapter” in the manner of Gonzales’ Deep Survival on certain athletes and/or on a certain sport.  (As a kayaker and diver, I have books on accidents in those sports with explanations of what went wrong, usually.)  If you have an interest in a certain sport and have some knowledge to build from, you could move back and forth from Deep Survival to materials that would make a good match from that other sport.  If you are a climber, for example, there’s plenty in Gonzales’ book relating to climbing specifically, but also generally to any outdoor accidents, that could be brought into consideration.  That is, apply what you have learned from Deep Survival.

Perhaps you look at what went wrong or what went right in a specific accident.  Perhaps you help us see the risks involved in the general pursuit of a particular sport—and perhaps help us to see how reading Deep Survival attentively could lead to greater safety.

Some of you may know what happened to Aron Ralston, the climber who had to cut off his own arm after getting trapped on his own in the wilderness; there’s his book, Between a Rock and A Hard Place, as well as the film version.  Climber Tommy Caldwell’s PUSH is an impressive book that covers all sorts of accidents and incidents upon mountains, using a table saw incorrectly, and even being captured and held hostage by rebel forces while climbing in Kyrgyzstan.

(A non-climbing example: Diana Nyad caps her long open water swimming career by swimming from Cuba to Florida at age 64!)

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