literature review on a conspiracy theory without taking a stance

In a 4-5 page paper, explore the discourse, both academic and popular, around a modern conspiracy theory, (or widely held false belief, myth, urban legend).

The literature review is NOT an opportunity to prove a particular conspiracy theory is “true” — that’s beyond the scope of a research project. Papers attempting such a project (and/or containing an evidence-thesis that focuses the paper on “this conspiracy theory is/might be true”) would be non-academic and will not credit.

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Instead, show what the academic conversation around your topic is, using 5+ credible sources, 2 or more of which must be peer-reviewed, scholarly sources. Strong papers will find at least one source that covers each of the following:

Background — a source that provides an overview of the general discussion around a topic (consider using CQ Researcher)

Exhibit — materials for you to analyze (data, images, quotations)

Argument — affirms, refines, or refutes the argumentative stance of other writers

Method — offers a model for your analysis (an interpretive framework or lens used to shape your analysis; e.g. feminism, post-colonialism, Orientalism, etc.) (These are the best & easiest to find sorts of scholarly sources)

Your literature review should have:

5 minimum credible sources, 2+ of which are scholarly and peer-reviewed (you might have exhibit sources that are not credible–and that’s fine as long as you use them in an academic fashion, but they won’t count toward your minimum 5)
A central thesis with a major claim

Evidence to support that claim (including at least 5 sources) and a synthesized analysis of these sources.

A response to what “they” have said (synthesizing your sources into your own language using the ‘they say, I say’ structure)

An avoidance of logical-fallacies

A clear reason for why this argument is important to the readers (i.e.: the bigger picture)

A tone that’s appropriate to the audience and stance of the essay

Clear organization and structure, with:

an introduction that introduces and contextualizes the argument

body paragraphs with clear focus, topic sentences and transition statements

a conclusion that leaves a lasting impression of the purpose of the essay

Clear language and good mechanics

MLA format and documentation methods

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