White Paper

Task: White Paper

A White Paper is a work in progress. It’s a snapshot of where your research project stands at a particular moment. It’s also a useful repository for all your notes about the topic as your gather them.

As such, White Papers tend to be informal and of uneven quality. Instead of demonstrating a careful, organized, persuasive pattern of thinking, they show the chaos of research as it develops—chaos that dissipates like morning fog as your work proceeds to reveal a beautiful day. But murky at first.

If yours looks like my Model White Paper (Why We Will Always Have Polio), it will be loosely organized into sections you will further develop with additional research and composition. For example:

Content Descriptions

  • The 2014 Syrian Polio Outbreak
  • The Resurgent Measles Threat
  • Thanks to the Anti-Vaxxers
  • Dangers of Measles
  • The How and Why of Polio
  • The Effectiveness of Vaccination
  • Counterintuitivity of Vaccination
  • Historic Eradication Efforts
  • The Eradicability of Polio
    • Impediments to Eradication
    • Single-Day Efforts
  • Counterintuitive Setbacks
  • The Nagging Autism Case

I’ve had more time to work on my White Paper than you have, so I have more categories than you might have by next Thursday, but still, loose organization under headings is the best approach to this work.

You’re going to need your first 5 Sources with Purposeful Summaries.
By summarizing, you’ll begin to shape the ideas in your sources to make claims of your own. As you continue to work on your project, you’ll return to this White Paper often for updates. It should always reflect the best and most organized version of your paper-in-progress.

In addition to the categorized research findings, you’ll need three (3) other sections, again finding models for them in my own White Paper.

1. Working Hypothesis 1

Here you’ll detail in precise language an argument you believe could be supported by material you have already found or expect to find.

1a. Working Hypothesis 2

To demonstrate that you haven’t hardened your position and are willing to consider alternate findings, declare a second hypothesis the research might support.

2. Five Academic Sources

You can’t really begin to sharpen your focus without doing some research. So now’s the time to show me what you’ve found. Use Google Scholar or the Campbell Library database to collect strong academic sources. (You can supplement with popular sources later if your topic calls for them.) For each source, provide basic bibliographic information, a link to the source, and a Purposeful Summary.

3. Topics for Smaller Papers

Since as part of the semester’s work, you’ll produce short arguments that stand on their own but contribute to your overall research, begin to identify what those papers might look like.

(Definition/Classification Argument)
Explain How a Term or Category is Understood or Misunderstood, Used or Misused, how Related things differ, or how Unrelated things are similar

See the Polio White Paper Model for an example of an argument of this type.

(Cause/Effect Argument)
Explore a Causal Relationship Essential to your research

Again, see the Polio White Paper Model for an example.

(Rebuttal Argument)
Reveal a Counterargument to be flawed

There’s no example of this argument type in the Model. If there were, it would be, for example, a stinging attack on the argument that personal freedom to opt out of vaccination trumps the public health necessity of virtually universal vaccination.

4. Current State of the Research Paper

Describe in a brief paragraph how you’re feeling so far about the progress you’ve made, how your opinions have changed (or solidified), and what you anticipate will be your eventual outcome.


  • DUE: THU SEP 29 (11:59PM WED SEP 28)
  • Publish your assignment in two categories: White Paper and the category for Your Username.
  • Name your post White Paper–Username, substituting your own username, of course.
  • You can also give your post a title (like mine, for example: “Why We Will Always Have Polio”).
  • Browse the Polio White Paper Model for guidance and follow its sloppy methods.
  • Your first draft will be tiny compared to my White Paper on polio, but it will contain all these ingredients:
    • Working Hypotheses (at least 2)
    • 5 Sources with Bibliographic information and hyperlinks to the material
    • Purposeful Summaries of your Sources
    • Topics for Smaller Papers (Recommended but optional for THU SEP 29)
    • Current State of the Research
  • You will receive a preliminary grade for this assignment, but you’ll be required to continue to expand and improve it for the rest of the semester, as it will always reflect the current state of your research. It will be, in fact, an open window onto your paper, the place where you collect and analyze your research and draft your paper.
  • Customary late penalties. (0-24 hours 10%) (24-48 hours 20%) (48+ hours, 0 grade)
  • Minor (Non-Portfolio) Assignment