In AY 2016, there were 21 entries in total, one in the high school division, 16 in the undergraduate division and 4 in the correspondence courses. The results and review are as follows.
Yuji Okano(Keio Shiki Senior High School, Second year)
「Developmental Plasticity of CNS Stem Cells: Implications for Neurodevelopmental/Psychiatric Diseases 」
Ryoko Shibata(Faculty of Economics, First Year Level)
「Ensuring Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health: How Foreign Aid Can Be Undermined」
*Affiliation and grade are those at the time of receiving the award.
The judges of the academic writing contest were on the whole pleased with the results this year. We received a number of quite interesting papers on fascinating topics. In addition, most of the participants did a good job of citing their sources carefully throughout the paper, and most were successful in creating a well-formatted list of references. Furthermore, it was clear that the authors of the majority of the papers had read a good deal on their topics and given their topics a lot of thought.
In spite of that however, it is also true that a number of problems were in evidence in many of the papers. For example, many of the papers did not contain a clear thesis statement. Without a clear thesis statement, it is very difficult to build a coherent and persuasive argument. It is also difficult to make it clear to the reader what is original about one's own point of view. On the other end of the spectrum, some papers contained original ideas, but they failed to make it clear in what way their ideas did or did not resemble the work that has already been done on the topic by other scholars. When we write a research paper, we are participating in a community of scholars. While it is important to develop one's own point of view on one's topic, it is also important to explain how that topic has been discussed and analyzed by scholars previously. Finally, it is important to develop a unified and coherent argument. It is common for students to include an excessive amount of 'background information' that is not really necessary or relevant to one's argument. This mistake was also observed in several of the papers.
Nevertheless, as I mentioned at the outset, overall we were quite impressed with the results. Writing a research paper in one's own native language is difficult enough; writing a research paper in a foreign language is quite a challenge. We were pleased to see that so many students had succeeded in writing a well-formatted, well thought out and well researched paper in English.