English Comp. II
Susan Arvay
Connecting Your Research to Your Text
This handout is meant to help you explain, to both yourself and your reader, how your research
material connects to your chosen piece of literature.
Step 1: Describe what your chosen piece of literature is about. Don’t describe its plot; instead
focus on its themes. A theme is a major idea that an author is exploring in a work. For
example, one of the themes of Shakespeare’s play Hamlet is the nature of a son’s duties to his
father. Another theme in the play might be the psychology of vengeance. When you think of
themes, think about the bigger issues that the author is exploring and making implicit claims
about.
List your ideas about your work’s themes here:
Step 2: Choose one aspect of the work that you find particularly interesting to think about. For
example, if you were studying Hamlet in a Shakespeare class, you might wonder why Hamlet
spends so much of the play putting off doing what he knows he’s obliged to do—avenge his
father’s death. Think about the work you’ve chosen to write about and describe some aspect
of it that your essay will look into more deeply.
Write your ideas here:
Step 3: Pose your research project as a question. Look back at what you wrote in step #2 and
condense your thoughts about what interests you into a question that your research will help
you to answer. This will be the heart of your research paper. Your answers to this question will
be your thesis, the main point of your paper.
Write your question here:
Step #4: Connect your research to this question. Now that you have a clear sense of what main
question your paper is going to explore, you’re in a good position to figure out how your
research material fits into your project.
Remember our class discussion a few days ago about “idea quotes” and “example quotes”—
basically, a source is going to give you ideas (concepts, arguments, claims) to use as tools for
analyzing your topic, and/or examples (data, stories, facts) that help you to better understand
the topic you’re researching. The rest of this worksheet is meant to help you figure out just
what each source is doing in your paper, and whether or not you need to find other sources to
help you answer your research question.
Remember, the strongest research brings in ideas, not just facts, stories, and data. Show your
reader how you can use the ideas you find to create new knowledge about the work you’re
studying. This is, after all, the whole point of doing research—to create new ways of
understanding things and to share that new knowledge with others.
Research source #1:
Source author:__________________________________________________________________
Source title:____________________________________________________________________
This source is a/an (check one):
_____ journal article
_____ newspaper article
_____ web site
_____ book
_____ other (please describe it here):
What kind of source is it? (check one):
_____ scholarly
_____ popular
How do you know that it’s scholarly or popular? What evidence tells you this? Describe this
evidence below. (Refer to our class discussion on scholarly vs. popular sources for a reminder
of what evidence to look for):
This source provides me with (check all that apply):
_____ Ideas that I can use as a “lens” for understanding my literary text.
Describe those ideas here in your own words:
Now explain how any one of these ideas helps you to answer your research question.
_____Background information (data, facts, stories, etc.) that helps me to understand the topic
that I’m researching.
Describe that information here in your own words:
Now explain how this information helps you to answer your research question.
Research source #2:
Source author:__________________________________________________________________
Source title:____________________________________________________________________
This source is a/an (check one):
_____ journal article
_____ newspaper article
_____ web site
_____ book
_____ other (please describe it here):
What kind of source is it? (check one):
_____ scholarly
_____ popular
How do you know that it’s scholarly or popular? What evidence tells you this? Describe this
evidence below. (Refer to our class discussion on scholarly vs. popular sources for a reminder
of what evidence to look for):
This source provides me with (check all that apply):
_____ Ideas that I can use as a “lens” for understanding my literary text.
Describe those ideas here in your own words:
Now explain how any one of these ideas helps you to answer your research question.
_____Background information (data, facts, stories, etc.) that helps me to understand the topic
that I’m researching.
Describe that information here in your own words:
Now explain how this information helps you to answer your research question.
Research source #3:
Source author:__________________________________________________________________
Source title:____________________________________________________________________
This source is a/an (check one):
_____ journal article
_____ newspaper article
_____ web site
_____ book
_____ other (please describe it here):
What kind of source is it? (check one):
_____ scholarly
_____ popular
How do you know that it’s scholarly or popular? What evidence tells you this? Describe this
evidence below. (Refer to our class discussion on scholarly vs. popular sources for a reminder
of what evidence to look for):
This source provides me with (check all that apply):
_____ Ideas that I can use as a “lens” for understanding my literary text.
Describe those ideas here in your own words:
Now explain how any one of these ideas helps you to answer your research question.
_____Background information (data, facts, stories, etc.) that helps me to understand the topic
that I’m researching.
Describe that information here in your own words:
Now explain how this information helps you to answer your research question.
FINAL STEP: Take out a piece of paper and begin to draft paragraphs that connect the specific
ideas and information that you’ve described above to your research question. If you already
have a full draft, then go through it and revise your paragraphs to make this connection
stronger. I’m available for individual consultation as you work on this.
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Connecting Research to Literature