The purpose of the graded assignments in this class will be:
The work that you will do in the five assignments on the book you choose at the beginning of the semester will be original research: this means that, although I can be expected to know where you might look for answers, I am not going to know in advance what those answers are. Indeed, part of doing original research is discovering what isn't known and, sometimes, what can't be known. Nonetheless, I am responsible for assessing your performance: I will do this, in part, by spot-checking the information you gather against the sources you use. This means that it is very important that you identify the sources you consult for each section of each assignment, section by section, even when the source produces no information. Why? Because the only way I may know whether you looked very hard for information that simply wasn't available, or whether you simply didn't look, is by examining your list of sources (and, of course, spot-checking in them).
The information you are gathering for this database is complex, rich, and difficult to find, and therefore it has value to other researchers. For that reason, I would like the information to be as complete and as correct as possible. I encourage you to update assignments after they are initially graded: if you do so, and if you provide me with the original graded assignment and an indication of what has been changed or added, I will review your grade for the assignment. This opportunity does not constitute a promise that a revised assignment will always receive a higher grade: for example, if you have only corrected mistakes pointed out to you by the instructor/grader (as you should do), but you have done no new research or writing, then you have simply met your basic responsibility as a scholar to correct known errors: for that, you should not expect a new grade, though you can expect that your research will be more highly regarded by others who use it.
Assignments 1, 3, and 4 will be worth 10% of the semester grade, as will the midterm and final exams. The second assignment (the most difficult fact-gathering assignment) will be worth 15%, and the fifth assignment (the most significant synthesis of what you know about your book and about bestsellers) will be worth 25%. Grades for these assignments will be based on insight, diligence, the completeness of the list of sources handed in with each assignment, and the factual accuracy of database submissions as judged against those sources. In later assignments (3, 4, 5) the quality of your prose will be increasingly important, as will your ability to extract, emphasize, synthesize, and analyze the information you have collected.
The remaining 10% of the semester grade will be assigned on the basis of in-class presentations.
All grades in this will be numerical, and grades will not be curved. NB: You can do very well on all five assignments on your book and still do relatively poorly in the course, since those five assignments constitute a total of 70% of your course grade--the other 30% being made up of exams and class participation. In other words, in order to do well, you need to come to class and participate, read the assigned novels, and work hard on your own book.
At some point during the semester, you may need to rearrange your schedule, either for personal or academic reasons. You do not need to ask my permission for the late submission of one assignment (including midterm or final), and your new due date will be one week after the original due date. Note that failure to submit your sources on time and in the proper form counts as a late submission, even if the database portion of the assignment is complete. You will not be penalized for taking one late assignment, provided that you turn in the assignment within that week, but after you have taken that late submission, you may not ask for another, and subsequent late assignments (including first late assignments more than one week overdue) will not be graded. If you do take a late submission, you must let me know by email on or before the original due date, and if you are taking a late submission on a midterm or final, please make sure that we agree on a specific make-up day and time (which, depending on exam and semester schedules, may need to be less than one week after the original date).
By taking this class, you accept the grading policies outlined here. By submitting entries to the database, you grant permission for your work to be published as part of the bestsellers database--but you retain copyright to all original work that goes into your entry. Any entries that are incomplete when final semester grades are turned in will be purged from the database, and the book returned to availability for future entries. Any entries judged insufficient in quality may also be removed, at the discretion of the instructor.