Celebrate Scholarship: Popular Student Papers in Digital Commons

On November 16, 2010 the U.S. House of Representatives declared the week of April 11, 2011 as “Undergraduate Research Week”. Since that time, each year CUR has designated a week in April as “Undergraduate Research Week”.  As we celebrate Undergraduate Research Week in The Ames Library, take a look at some of the most popular student scholarship* (*based on the average number of full-text downloads per day since the paper was posted).

Digital Commons @ IWU is a collection of excellent and distinctive research, scholarship and creative activity. Student journals, Honors Theses, and presentations from the annual John Wesley Powell Undergraduate Research Conference are included, as are publications by faculty and staff.

Shaping the American Woman: Feminism and Advertising in the 1950s

  • Written by Christina Catalano
  • Published in 2002 in Constructing the Past, vol. 3, issue 1
  • This article is a critique of the feminist assertion that 1950s advertising was degrading to women. It shows that in several advertisments from the time period, women were portrayed as being competent and successful, both in working in the home and outside of it as well.
  • 52,221 downloads since September 11, 2008

World War II and Fashion: The Birth of the New Look

  • Written by Lauren Olds
  • Published in 2001 in Constructing the Past, vol. 2, issue 2
  • This article discusses the changes that took place in the style of women’s fashions from the 1930s to the late 1940s, from the simpler wartime styles to the frilly, extravagant look popularized by Dior.
  • 47,984 downloads since September 11, 2008

The Evolution of Hominid Bipedalism

  • Written by Michael Friedman
  • Published in 2006, anthropology honors project
  • Paleoanthropologists mark the divergence between apes and hominids with the adaptation of bipedalism five to six million years ago. In this paper, I argue that while the first upright hominids occurred in this time frame, the process of becoming a fully efficient biped took much longer and was not complete until Homo erectus at 1.8 million years ago. To provide context to the puzzle of how and why our ancestors evolved upright walking, I examine many of the prevailing theories of bipedal origins, including the aquatic ape hypothesis, the heat hypothesis, and the carrying hypothesis.
  • 38,120 downloads since September 11, 2008

Nikita Khrushchev, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the Aftermath

  • Written by Jason Roeschley
  • Published in 2011 in Constructing the Past, vol. 12, issue 1
  • Through the use of primary and secondary sources, this essay seeks to define the role of Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev during the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962, which was essential to avoiding nuclear devastation between the Soviet Union and the United States. Additionally, the essay examines the consequences of the crisis including the Sino-Soviet split, the ousting of Khrushchev, and the effects of continued Cuban-Soviet relations.
  • 21,758 downloads since June 20, 2011

The Effects of Family, Social, and Background Factors on Children’s Educational Attainment

  • Written by Megan De Serf
  • Published in 2002, economics honors project
  • In a perfect world, children of all races, socioeconomic backgrounds, and family types would not only have the opportunity to receive a higher education, but they would also take full advantage of these opportunities. The educational level of children in the ghettos of Chicago or St. Louis would be equal to their suburban counterparts. However, it is not a perfect world, and educational attainment of children and young adults from varying backgrounds differ greatly.
  • 32,621 downloads since July 21, 2008

Effects of Store Atmosphere on Shopping Behavior

  • Written by Wendy Billings
  • Published in 1990, business honors project
  • There is little sound documentation for the actual effects of store atmosphere on shopping behavior. Some retailers have claimed that they have influenced customers’ buying behavior by manipulating store atmosphere via layout, color, lighting, and music (wysocki 1979; Stevens 1980). However, this evidence is solely anecdotal. Researchers have been unable to document strong effects of store atmosphere for a variety of reasons. First, the effects evoked by store atmosphere are primarily emotional states that are difficult to verbalize. These emotions are temporary and therefore difficult to recall accurately. In addition, they influence behaviors within the store rather than more easily identifiable behaviors such as selecting which store to patronize (Donovan and Rossiter 1982). Previous retail image studies have used structured questionnaire surveys which ask respondents to rate various researcher-specified attributes according to their importance for patronage. However, this method clearly does not capture the consumer’s true emotional responses to the store’s atmosphere; it simply lists atmosphere as one component of store image.In addition, the majority of previous store-atmosphere measurement, which was usually done in the context of store image research, has been conducted outside of the store environment, long after the actual shopping experience. This method is not very reliable, since it is difficult for respondents to recall accurately their emotional responses to a particular atmosphere while in a different setting.Thus, if store atmosphere can actually affect shopping behavior within the store, it is necessary to develop a framework with which to study such effects. This study will attempt to apply the Mehrabian-Russell model, an environmental psychology framework, to explore environmental variables in retail settings.
  • 27,808 downloads since October 7, 2008

The Relationship between Crime and Unemployment

  • Written by Matthew Melick
  • Published in 2003 in The Park Place Economist, vol. 11
  • This paper examines the relationship between motor vehicle theft and unemployment at the state level in an attempt to understand which perspective has the overriding effect. The rest of the paper explores whether there is a significant relationship between economic conditions and motor vehicle theft.
  • 27,664 downloads since February 13, 2008

An Economic Analysis of the Death Penalty

  • Written by Martin Kasten
  • Published in 1996 in University Avenue Undergraduate Journal of Economics, vol. 1, issue 1
  • From an economic perspective, society should only use capital punishment if the marginal benefits outweigh the marginal costs. In the course of analyzing the economic efficiency of capital punishment, and before providing any recommendations, both the benefits and costs of the death penalty must be evaluated. Since the death penalty has been implemented for centuries, many people believe its benefits outweigh its costs. The evaluation of benefits in Part II will be compared to the costs assessed in Part III to determine if this long held assertion is correct.
  • 6,164 downloads since April 16, 2014


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