Students were required to write a short paper on a phenomenon related to the topics discussed in class. The paper should describe the phenomenon, explain its significance (what theoretical issues does it bear on?), and present (at least) a preliminary account of it.

In the paper, students were asked to:

  • Describe the set of data under investigation
  • Explain why those data are interesting or puzzling
  • Explain how the data bears on existing theories
  • Indicate how the data can be analyzed

There were two required meetings. The first was to learn more about students’ background and interests. The second was for discussing potential squib topics. The second meeting was important, because often the most difficult part of writing a paper is finding a suitable topic. Although no list of topics was provided, students received help in narrowing down a topic.

Although there was no set page length, at least 10 pages including figures was generally necessary to explore the topic.

The papers were graded on clarity of argumentation.

Sample Squib Titles

A Generic Account of the Middle Construction in Chinese