English 201 Research Paper Process Overview
Choose an argumentative topic with a claim of policy that genuinely interests you and generates curiosity. Overused topics such as abortion, steroids, assisted suicide, diseases, gun control, legalizing marijuana, etc. are prohibited. If you question whether a topic is overused, please discuss your concerns with me before researching.
The topic will narrow into a thesis. Bear in mind that this thesis will be refined as the research process progresses. The deadline for committing to a paper topic is in a few days. Any changes in topic after this must be discussed with me. I do not need to approve your topics, but you may ask questions about potential topics.
The length of the paper will be 10-11 typed pages (not including the works cited page or charts) formatted using MLA guidelines. Since you will be using supporting materials and choosing your own topic, there will be no excuse for not meeting the minimum page requirement. Papers longer than 11 pages should be approved by me.
You will produce a complete working bibliography in approximately 1 week. The working bibliography will contain possible sources of information for the paper. This working bibliography and the final works cited should include adequately varied sources. The bulk of outside information for the paper should be drawn from scholarly sources. The use of popular magazines, newspapers, and general encyclopedias is not allowed. At least 2 scholarly journals must be cited in the paper. A maximum of 2 web sites may be cited in the paper.
A portion of the research process grade will include the submission of notes. A set of “note cards” containing personal response, summary, paraphrase, and direct quotation is required. These will be generated with electronic assistance either setting margins in MS Word or using a card template.
A formal, complete sentence outline of the structure of your research paper will be required. This outline will include the thesis statement and a sentence for each main point and each supporting point.
The rough draft of this assignment will be submitted for peer review. In addition, this rough draft will be graded. I will comment on the overall strengths and weaknesses of the paper to assist in your revision.
The final draft of the research paper is due by noon on the date listed on the course schedule. No late papers. Plagiarism in the rough or final draft will result in failure of the paper and the course.
Do not hesitate to ask questions throughout this research process, and use the information desk at the library when you encounter questions about library materials.
Grading: The research process accounts for approximately 30% of the total grade for this class.
By now, we are familiar with the writing process. The next step in building our academic writing skills is incorporating research into our writing. The focus of the academic research essays is still our ideas. We use “research” to further support and illustrate our points. We will modify the writing process to more easily include the researched information. It is important to work through each step in the research process in a timely manner. Do not fall behind. We will spend several weeks learning the research process that culminates in a 10-11 page polished essay. Though we could write such a short essay in much less time with fewer steps, we use this format to facilitate learning. In upper division classes and graduate school, students are required to write much longer scholarly research projects. Here we will learn the process on a smaller scale to understand how to create a larger project.
The first step in this assignment is generating an argumentative topic. After deciding on a topic and narrowing it, we should make a list of what we know about the topic and what we would like to know. This information should be related to our working thesis or assertion. We do not want to go to the research to find a topic. This is similar to walking around an entire library hoping to find something we want to read. We should not begin any research until we know what we are looking for. Our first search should be for scholarly journal articles. If a topic is too new or not very scholarly, we will not find journal articles and must choose new topic. This is rare but it does happen.
As for sources, students often focus on what they cannot use rather than what they can use. In the academic realm we are most interested in quality, scholarly sources–the “best of the best” information. Newspapers, magazines, and general encyclopedias provide general information written on a 6-8 th grade reading level—fine for leisurely reading, but not for scholarly research. Let’s focus on what we may use—everything else: books, e-books, scholarly journals, government documents, legal documents, pamphlets, up to 2 web sites, lectures, speeches, videotapes, and personal interviews. Don’t forget that last resource—personal interviews. In an academic environment, we have many experts in many different disciplines. Use these people as a resource, whether through an interview or as a resource to other resources.
Our next step is to create a Working Bibliography.
Detailed information on this is in Content.
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