Monday, December 3, 2007

Sample rough draft write-up

I'm writing this off the top of my head at 4am, so, take it as a conceptual sample written in blog-tone and not a literal model to emulate for a term paper.

Starting with the topic of the "walmart effect",
Core Questions: "How is walmart impacting small town America?"
Misc questions: why is it the wal-mart effect instead of k-mart/target/big box store effect? How do they offer "low-low prices all the time"? (+however more questions you pull up and investigate)

Two reasons. It's known as wal-mart effect because of their sheer size and presence. They are such a huge retail presence that companies literally rely on them to push products, many of them setup offices right in wal-mart's head-quarters (cite x). They can afford to drop companies, companies can't afford to lose wal-mart, thats why they have the upper hand in negotiating pricing. In turn, they get the products at the lowest cost, and can sell them below their competitors pricing and still turn a hefty profit.

Their logistical prowess, they have the best inventory management in the retail industry, if not in the world. They have x amount of their company focused on IT logistics, continuously runs model simulations on activity y (cite d). After Katrina, wal-mart was the first of any private, public, or non-profit organization to setup a capable presence to respond to the disaster (cite y). They can move products faster and cheaper than their competitors, another reason they can afford to offer low low prices all the time (cite z data #s).

None of their competitors has as much bargaining power with manufacturers as walmart does, and neither can they match wal-mart's logistical operation. The whole issue of how pricing can kill competition is another tract to explore in tying in w/ how it effects local community stores, then how the local stores lose business close down. It would involve some #s and charts to show case points. Whether you choose to express both sides, or just one, or focus on specific changes in the community or employment issues or quality of life issues, on a single community, multiple, national, etc - there really isn't a right or wrong path to go, what I'm assessing is how well you tackle exploration, iteration, and responding to which ever angle/question/perspective you settle on.

As another example, you could focus entirely on the employment angle. How the closing of shops drove many people having to seek alternative employment. Or how walmart is creating new job opportunities in the community, such as increased traffic led to more gas stations, or increase population over time etc (insert comparison chart over time, cite p).

This is what I'm expecting in the student papers (with citations to sources supporting the statements). Actually I expect as much, if not more, since the students are actively investigating primary sources and I'm just going by second hand off the cuff info to write this (might not be 100% accurate). In your reflection paper, you might talk about how you stumbled on the katrina article while researching sub-topic z etc. You might also describe how you come around to settling on your final focus point of employment instead of economics of walmart effect etc.

In terms of assessment, the first 2 paragraphs are along the lines of fundamentals that I expect you to be able to formulate for a term paper, that's average. Strong developments in the 3rd paragraph is where a paper can rise from average to good/great, combined with supporting materials in the rest of the portfolio/reflection paper.

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