FAO Quotables

"But being right, even morally right, isn't everything. It is also important to be competent, to be consistent, and to be knowledgeable. It's important for your soldiers and diplomats to speak the language of the people you want to influence. It's important to understand the ethnic and tribal divisions of the place you hope to assist."
-Anne Applebaum

Friday, August 24, 2012

How to Write an A+ Paper in Grad School

BONUS LINK:  My entire (so far) grad school notes collection can be found here. 

How to Write an A+ Paper in Grad School

"The Elements of an A+ Paper" document below was written by one of my favorite professors at NPS: Dr. Mohammad Hafez.  My biggest regret is that I did not have this guide my first two quarters. 

When you are pursuing an International Relations type Master's Degree is seems that every week you have a 6-12 page paper due.  The "Elements" gives you a template to get your writing started and to tackle the research paper as a whole.  Your paper practically writes itself when you use "Elements." Before you turn it in, use my My Personal Editing Checklist.  

While you are here, consider buying one of Dr. Hafez's three books--he's a great writer.


Below is the first paragraph from a recent essay for which I received an A (95).  The essay in its entirety is embedded below.

Empires As Sanctifying, Transformative Safety Valves

Empires are a near universal experience with ancient roots. While most often
studied with a Europe-centric focus (e.g. the Romans, the Greeks, the Byzantines etc.), the
process of empire-building affected nearly every modern nation today. The first wave of modern
empire-building lasted approximately 400 years beginning in the 15th century. By 1800, these
empires had grown from humble beginnings in coastal European islands to the faraway shores of
India, the Philippines and South America. During this time period nearly every European state
expanded its territory in some way, however, Spain, England and Portugal were notable for the
duration and breadth of their empires. What were the driving forces behind their rapid expansion?
Which motivating factors were common ones and which ones were dissimilar? Where did the
processes of empire-building themselves converge and diverge? I argue that the roots of empire
for each nation began in their own domestic conflicts that were inextricably tied to the broader
politics of succession and rule in Europe at large. Notably these conflicts underscored the need
for additional sovereign territory (and its associated wealth) for which imperial expansion served
as an ideal solution and safety valve. I begin by providing a brief analysis of these preconditions
(i.e. the roots) that enabled and motivated the three countries’ expansion. Next, I focus on the
processes and nature of each country’s territorial acquisitions. I then make the case that while
each nation was distinctly influenced by its own domestic situation, an evolving understanding of
the role of intermediaries, as well as the concept of governed “peoples,” ultimately shaped their

Other Writing Links:

My Personal Editing Checklist

On Revising Well or “Taking the ax to your work” or “Getting the words right”

101 Writing Tips from Famous Authors

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