Portfolio letter- criminal justice course essays example

Dear Professor [insert name],

On Project 1
Before I stepped in your class, I had usually perceived writing as a difficult task that takes a lot of time. This short and yet a powerful statement, too, had resonated in the minds of most of my classmates that I started to study this course together. However, it has just been a matter of ten weeks, and my writing skills have improved very drastically, courtesy of this class. Thanks to a lot of time I dedicated in writing, revising, seeking professor’s reviews and polishing my works to come up with more superior contents about the given topic. My improvement at every stage of learning in this course has been clearly illustrated in the drafts, revisions, and other materials that I had used to write my essays. Although I could say that I had some strength and many weaknesses, it was evident that I could not write a meaningful academic paper. In my lower levels of academic learning the situation that commonly prevailed was that of low standard essays with low marks, and I was expecting the same to happen at this time. I learned that apart from the argumentative prose I had been used to college academic papers had specific structures and language that should be used to make them appealing to the target audiences.
In my first project, “ Project 1”, in which I wrote about how entered the university to take my course in Criminal Law and what it entailed, one can see that it is not even close to anything thing like a piece of an academic paper. It is just my personal reflection on how I entered the University to take up the Criminal Law course and what it entailed. The arguments are not precise, and they are not even supported by enough evidences to become more authoritative. In this regard, paragraphs seem very short with four lines in most cases. Therefore, these arguments were weak and could not be composed to form an appealing academic paper. Weak arguments are noted by few sentences that are in most cases wordy, too small or confusing. A conventional paragraph normally has a topic sentence with several supporting sentences of evidences and a conclusion to wrap up the argument (Hyland and Marina 1-2). The more precise the topic sentence is, the stronger the argument will become when it is well supported with evidences. In this regard too more supporting sentences, like sixteen of them, and a concluding sentence will make the argument become stronger. However, for my first project, some paragraphs are made up of four to five sentences, which are still insufficient to render a valid and a stronger argument of good academic paper. Since the project also lacks the title, it may be a bit not straight for one to reveal directly the main overriding idea of the paper.
In grammar and mechanics, sentence structure shows that there is a lot of wordiness; one can see that in some sentences, the number of words used could add up to four lines. Nonetheless, there was still some confusion with the use of both definite and indefinite articles, as in most I could interchange them. Sentences also show numerous uses of unclear antecedents, which could easily confuse the reader about subjects I was referring to. One of the gravest points is that it seems like I never cared about word replacement; this can be witnessed in words such as “ that more number of students chooses his practice”.
In the originality of the content, it is also possible that, at this time, I was not very much conversant with patch writing and plagiarism. When I check some of the sentences, it is possible that there are some segments of plagiarized words from some web sources. This can be revealed especially when I pass the paper through a plagiarism checker to realize that I had a content segment that matched with that of the Grahak Suraksha website. At this point, too, although I was much careful about intentional copying, I did not care about unintentional content matching of written documents. The other ignorance in me can be seen in citation; I could not even realize that there were different citation styles like the Modern Language Association (MLA), Harvard, Oxford, American Psychological Association (APA), Turabian/Chicago, American Sociological Association (ASA) or any other citations. In the case of the Project 1 one can see that I was mixing rules in MLA and APA. Whilst the in-text citations and the bibliography part followed the MLA rules of citation, the title of the bibliography is labeled “ references” instead of “ works cited”.
[Insert name].
Dear Professor [insert name],

On Projects 2 and 3

For projects 2 and 3, they involved giving accounts of what kinds and levels of research had been done on the “ Racial Profiling in the Criminal Justice System”. In this regard, it was essential that we knew the kinds of materials that were essential for the topic. I realized after learning from one of my classmates that it was very much easier to identify various articles by using several key terms that were related to the topic like “ racial profiling”, and “ black American”. Thereafter we were to assess the relevance of the sources by noting how they contributed to the research topic. I must also confess that I was lucky under the professor, as I could fulfill the goal of learning how to make annotated bibliographies: indicative annotation, informative annotations, and evaluative annotations. In the indicative annotations, I could define the scope of each academic article regarding the topic, noting what its subtopics were all about. However in informative annotation, I could read and easily make a summary of each academic paper I got concerning the topic. Evaluative annotation assessed the strengths and weaknesses of the article in terms of quality and usefulness. In this class it seems that under the guidance of the professor we used the combination types of annotations; that is, we could summarize, describe, analyze and evaluate article contents under certain rubrics. However apart from summarizing, it became easier for me to evaluate the rhetorical moves of others works. In Project 2, after I had successfully learned about how to write an annotated bibliography, it was easier for me to track or remember what sources I had about a certain sub-topic. Moreover, I realized that the annotated bibliography helped me to remember the articles that were not relevant and therefore I could look for others as early as possible to replace them. Currently, I am confident that I can make summaries by basing on the criteria of thesis, background, methods, finding, limitations and implications of the study.
Evaluation involved analyzing the articles to find out the way scholars agree or disagree on certain ideas and what most of them agree or disagree on. By carefully evaluating the scope of some papers, one could easily tell where the study was going by deciphering on the emerging trends on the topic. The other pertinent thing I have learned is realizing how scholars organize or break down their research works on the topic. Further, as a person who has just become a critical thinker in Criminal Law, I have known to realize what gaps exist in a research topic. The gaps could emanate from newly emerged phenomena under one’s observations that had not been discussed. Non-academic literatures can also be good sources of information that has never been researched by any academic paper.
Before I joined this class, I had perceived that rhetoric are only important when it comes to making and giving great speeches like those of Socrates, Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln or Martin Luther King, Jr. However, I have realized that I had a very different meaning about rhetoric other than the one I perceive now; that it was the art of speaking to sway people without sincerity or any meaningful contents (Kuypers 1-2). It has come to my attention that it simply means the art of persuasive or effective speaking or writing by using figures of speech or any compositional means or techniques. Academic persuasive presentation of one’s novel ideas is marked by several factors. These include authority, objectivity, purpose, context, and coverage. However, it has also dawned in my ears that the purpose of the study should be linked to the argument; the audience should be linked to the persona, and the organization should be linked to the evidence.
In an academic paper, one’s authority in a certain field will influence at large extent, the persuasion of his ideas in the article. In this regard being a professor in a renowned institution and having done, landmark researches in the same field will make his paper more appealing. Since the research article is supposed to be scientific, objectivity should be the order of the writing. Of course, the evidence should be based on reliable statistics to reveal the cause-effect of a certain phenomenon. Accompanied with objectivity of the study is the purpose of the study. Most analysts show that researches should be able to add new knowledge to the existing ones, and they should be based on the already existing knowledge for them to be convincing. In this regard, it is eminent that well elaborate literature is needed to reinforce the researcher’s findings to create necessary appeals. However, the research should also be related to the right context. In fact, I should opine that the context needs to precede the study itself. For instance, Risse, Mathias, and Zeckhauser make their case that racial profiling in criminal justice is wrong, because it undermines principles of the constitution that state that everybody should be equally protected by the law (131).
The study will gain its appealing from its coverage, because by relating the background information from others’ literatures and his empirical findings, the author will adequately support his hypothesis to come up with a sound conclusion that appeals to everybody. For instance in the Welch’s 2007 article, the author has elaborately used background information to support his statistical inferences that minority races do not receive fair treatment under the law due to the unofficial policy of racial criminal profiling (Welch 276-290).
Apart from the situation or context as already said, the researchers should also be able to understand their audience. For instance in the Welch’s article, the audience is members of the black community and others who would like to know impacts of racial stereotypes and criminal profiling. The readers are also keen to know the voice that speaks in the audience so that their perception about it can influence the appealing effects of the article. In this effect, Welch (276-290) seems complaining about how racial stereotypes have been made the official policy of fighting crimes in the United States (Welch 276-290). However, the purpose of the paper will be determined at a greater extent by the argument forwarded by the author. In a further measure to persuade his audience, an academic a writer has to organize his work in a certain format. In this regard, the language usage and the author’s structural arrangement of subtopics in the topic will enable various parties to understand it easily. Evidence forms a key part of the logic argument that the author should use to come up with a solid conclusion. For instance, the Civilrights. org (1) has used the statistical evidence on historical cases that involve arrests related to racial stereotyping to solidify their findings.
[Insert name].
Dear Professor [insert name],

On Project 4

My writing mechanisms and grammar has also continued to improve. First I could realize that my case of presenting an argument as marked by attention seeking first sentences had improved. Moreover, in this project, too, one could see how my arguments were well supported and concluded. Paragraph sentences were more than ten in the main body. Moreover, I could realize that they were well concluded to wrap up the main the discussion and tie evidences to the topic sentence (Bonelli and Camiciotti 12). I can realize that I achieved this aim, by first, reading and understanding the assigned articles and making their summaries from my memory, but not by paraphrasing word by word. For instance, if one can look at the introduction of the project, he can realize that that was not a copy-paste segment, or a product of patch writing, but rather original ideas that had emerged from what I understood after reading the articles assigned on racial profiling. Although the paragraphs featured individual articles, they were synthesis of the major ideas from the research articles.
However, it can be seen that although I had used the articles in drafting my essay there was still a problem in citation. In this regard, corresponding in-text citations were not indicated despite having a list of references at the end of the essay. Nonetheless, the list of reference page is not provided. Importantly, the essay showed lot deficiencies in styles, like lacking the title, which is supposed to show the overriding idea in the text. Lastly, when I passed my essay in grammar checker softwares like Grammarly. com, it can be revealed that there are still problems with grammatical mechanics. However, compared to my first essay they have reduced. There are few errors concerning passive voice, indefinite articles, comma splices, unclear antecedents and squinting modifiers.
[Insert name].
Dear Professor [insert name],

On Project 5

Project 5 was the best opportunity I had been waiting for so that I could identify some of the rhetorical conventions in academic writing to use while providing a concrete analysis of the articles assigned in class. Seeking to identify, read and synthesize how the authors organize themes about the topic so that I could develop an original argument gave me another opportunity of avoiding patch writing, as the first moral step in advancing a convincing work to several audiences (Bonelli and Camiciotti 12). I managed to synthesize the article on the following rhetorical analyses: context, audiences, purposes, persona and text. Importantly, while exploring the rhetorical situations on the topic, I had also joined the rhetorical debate that had ensued. However, as it can be noted on context, although one could try to understand the how the different viewpoints emerged within their context, I am still lagging behind by note synthesizing others ideas before forming a concrete observation or conclusion from them. However, all the writers seem to accept that racial profiling involves minority groups like the African Americans, Arab Americans, Latinos, or illegal immigrants among others.
On audience I noted that they were people who were against racism, either belonging in those races that were among the minority groups or others who had felt bad with associating crime with members of a particular race, especially the blacks. However, I was supposed to synthesize others opinion before coming up with the conclusion, this could have given a better clue to the audience to realize how I derived my conclusion.
For the purpose, the article was to show that or prove that racial discrimination against blacks in terms of criminal profiling existed. I also learned that although there were wonderful laws in the United States that strongly condemned racism, the level of profiling against black youth were still strong. Since I have become part of the discussion, as a person, it was important that I took a stand to talk about racial profiling where one race, more specifically the black race, has its members erroneously jailed, arbitrarily singled out, stopped for searching or arrested illegally. The text had statistics of blacks that were stereotypically purported to have been committed crimes.
In grammar, one can realize that there were fewer errors than those in the third project. The fewer errors included only two passive voices, one confused definite articles, and one comma splice. Although plagiarism level was 1%, I conceive it resulted because of accidental coincidence with web texts; this indicates that, in the future, I need to be checking for unintentional plagiarism. The sentences were not wordy, and I was very careful about word choice and placement so that I could make a sentence that was simple and easily comprehensible to the reader. As I continue to venture into this world of academic research writing, I hope that I would improve in grammar, styles, mechanics, search of authoritative information and rhetoric moves (Bonelli and Camiciotti 12). Racial profiling of criminal offenders has become a very controversial and hot topic among scholars of Criminal Law (Baird 24-26; Ryberg 79), and if I want to make a novel content for my new research, good structure and rhetoric moves that create greater appeals are inevitable.
[Insert name].

Works Cited

Baird, Norman. Criminal Law. London: Cavendish, 2005. Print.
Bonelli, Elena, and Gabriella Camiciotti. Strategies in Academic Discourse. Philadelphia: J.
Benjamins, 2005. Print.
Civilrights. org. “ The Reality of Racial Profiling,” The Leadership Conference: The Nations
Premier Civil & Human Rights Coalition, 2011. Web. September 28, 2014.
Hyland, Ken, and Marina Bondi. Academic Discourse across Disciplines. New York: P.
Lang, 2006. Print.
Kuypers, Jim. A. ed. Rhetorical Criticism: Perspectives in Action. New York: Lexington
Books, 2009. Print.
Risse, Mathias, and Zeckhauser, Richard. Racial profiling. Philosophy & Public Affairs, n. d.:
32(2). Print.
Ryberg, Jesper. Racial Profiling and Criminal Justice. Journal of Ethics, 2011: 15. Print.
Welch, Kelly. Black Criminal Stereotypes and Racial Profiling. Journal of Contemporary
Criminal Justice, 2007: 23(3). Print.