RESEARCH PAPER GUIDELINES The process of writing a research

The process of writing a research paper requires gathering and studying clues, evidence, and
information; weeding out irrelevant information; organizing thoughts; and presenting accurate
conclusions. Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to research a topic and write a
2-3 page argumentative paper on that topic. You will choose an argumentative topic, from the
teacher provided list, to investigate and then you will research and gather the necessary
information about the topic. After you complete your research, you will write a 2-3 page paper
analyzing information about your chosen topic. The following are the criteria that you will be
The essay must:
 be 2-3 pages in length
 be presented in essay format
 be typed
 be double spaced
 be 12 point Times New Roman font
 contain at minimum of 3 valid sources
 include parenthetical citations
 include a correctly (MLA) formatted works cited page
The following are considered valid sources:
 Newspapers
 Encyclopedias
 Books
 Magazines
 Internet news sites (CNN, MSNBC, Etc.)
 Databases (see librarian)
Internet sources are considered websites and web pages. Journals, newspapers, encyclopedias,
etc. magazines are not considered Internet sources as long as the article has appeared in print.
For example, an article at (Watertown Daily Times) is not considered an Internet
source because it appeared in print; it is a print version available online. However, sites such as
Wikipedia are considered Internet sources because the information does not appear in print.
In addition, Wikipedia is not a valid source because the information can be changed by anyone.
Your research paper is due:
NO LATER THAN May 8, 2015
Freshman Research Paper
Your task is to research a topic and write a 2-3 page argumentative paper, with a formal outline
and works cited page.
You will select your topic from the list provided.
You will be graded on the following elements:
Quality of your research Did you address all of the details surrounding your topic?
 Have you maintained a clear idea throughout the paper based upon your theme or thesis
 Does your paper have a beginning, middle, and end, with an identifiable use of transitions
between each paragraph?
 Did you supply the reader with information, either quoted or paraphrased, from your
sources to “prove” your points about your topic?
Use of proper English grammar and mechanics Is your paper modeled after the format given for this assignment?
 Do you have parenthetical citations to show from what sources you got your information?
 Have you created a Works Cited page in the proper format?
 Is that Works Cited page attached to the end of your research paper?
 Have you utilized the spelling and grammar check, as well as performed both a selfdirected proofread AND a proofread by an additional 2 people?
Proper Presentation Format Your paper MUST be word-processed.
 Your paper MUST be double-spaced.
 Your paper requires you to create a creative cover page using a visual that is related to
your mystery, and you must include your topic as the title. Your cover will also contain
your name, class, teacher, and date.
 Your Works Cited page and your cover page do not count as pages in your paper.
Formal Three-Part Outline: Introduction, Body & Conclusion
NOTE: Formal outlines require a special numbering system. If you have a I, you must have a II.
If you have an A, you must have a B. If you have a 1, you must have a 2, and so on:
The traditional outline has three sections: introduction, body, and conclusion. The basic model
looks like the one on the following page.
The example provided is the format your outline must resemble.
Last Name i
I. Introductory Paragraph
A. Background Information
B. Thesis Statement:
II. Body of Argument
A. Claim:
a. Evidence
i. 1
ii. 2
iii. 3
B. Claim:
a. Evidence
i. 1
ii. 2
iii. 3
C. Claim:
a. Evidence:
i. 1
ii. 2
iii. 3
III. Addressing the Opposite Side
Last Name ii
A. 1st Opposing View:
a. Refutation:
i. 1
ii. 2
iii. 3
B. 2nd Opposing View:
a. Refutation:
i. 1
ii. 2
iii. 3
IV. Conclusion
Evaluation of Information Sources:
The Internet Can Be Full of Imposters
Good sources vs. Bad sources?
Your paper is only as credible as its sources.
Good sources:
Scholarly studies (i.e. scientific papers, experiments, surveys)
Major news networks (CNN, CBS, NBC, BBC, NPR)
Interviews with experts
.org, .gov, or .edu websites
Bad sources:
Wikipedia—or any wikis
Anecdotes (“stories”)
.com websites
Anything you know to have a political slant or bias
See the Owl at Purdue (linked off my website) for MLA information
Ask yourself these seven questions to determine if a source of information is appropriate for your
1. Who or What Is Responsible?
 What is the expertise of the person who wrote the information? Is there contact or biographic
information provided? On the Web, can you find a link to the author’s biography?
 If an organization or a company created the journal or Web site, information about their
mission, history, and/or purpose should be available. A full address, including a phone
number may be helpful.
2. What Subject(s) or Issue(s) Are Covered?
 What is the depth of coverage? Could you find as much or more information in an
 Is the topic of the article or page clear?
 Is a bibliography to print sources or links to related sites included?
 Are ideas or products well described?
3. Is There a Bias?
 Are biases, if any, clearly stated?
 Read carefully to differentiate fact from opinion.
 What is the motive for providing any given piece of information?
 Tougher to answer but equally important: what is not being said?
4. Is the Information Current?
 When was the article or Web page written, when was it first posted, and when was it last
updated? If you can’t tell by looking at the page itself, try viewing the directory. If the site is
copyrighted, does it include a copyright date?
 Are dates on charts, graphs, and other statistical sources within the page clearly noted?
 Do the links work, or are there "dead" links?
5. Is It Accurate?
 Are citations provided so facts can be verified independently?
 Are there spelling and/or grammatical errors? (The answer to this question should be "no".)
 Are the basic facts correct? Compare a few facts with another source of information.
 Is there any indication of who is responsible for the information? What is this person's
expertise? (See item 1, above.)
6. Who Is the Audience?
 General public?
 Hobbyists?
 Professionals?
 Researchers?
 Students?
7. What is the PURPOSE of this information?
If you know the motive behind the creation of a work, you might be a better judge of its content.
ADVOCACY: Support a position on moral, political, or social issues. Sierra is a pro-environment
magazine published by the Sierra Club. The URLs of advocacy pages often--but not always--end
with ".org" to distinguish them as nonprofit organizations.
Democratic National Committee:
Republican National Committee:
BUSINESS/MARKETING: Advocacy with a motive to sell! Many large companies have their own
magazines like Delta's Sky Magazine. Other obvious business/ marketing information sources are
infomercials on TV, and Web sites that usually--but not always-- have URLs ending with ".com" to
indicate a commercial or for-profit site.
Amazon (they sell books):
The Iguanas (they sell CDs):
INFORMATION: Provide factual information such as research, factual data and statistics from
journals, government publications and reference works. The Journal of the American Medical
Association is a respected scholarly journal with articles on medical research. URLs for Web sites
will vary, but the government-sponsored sites will always end with ".gov".
EDGAR Database of Corporate Information:
Your :
NEWS: Newspapers, news magazines, television and radio news programs. Newsweek and 20/20
are familiar news forums. Some news Web sites will have ".org" URLs and others will have ".com",
depending on whether they are for-profit or nonprofit.
Charlotte Observer:
National Public Radio:
PERSONAL: These can be the home pages of the Ph.D. next door or the kid down the street. URLs
can end in ".com", ".org", ".net" (for network), or ".edu" (for educational institution), depending on
the server where the page is located.
J-Lo (a fan’s tribute to Jennifer Lopez):
Luminarium (an award-winning literary site by a summa cum laude English grad.):
Freshman Research Paper
Computer Lab Days and Due Dates
 Research Strategies
 Locating Resources
 Review the list of teacher provided topics.
 Narrow list to your top 5 topics choices.
 Complete preliminary research on top 5 topic choices.
 Research topics on your top 5 brainstorm list.
 Narrow down your list of topics to 3 choices.
 ***Make an appointment with the teacher to approve your topic. YOU CANNOT
 Find and read additional sources- make sure you will have enough varied sources.
 Be sure to have copies of all articles/sources you use.
 Work on/complete items due in the following weeks.
 ***Topic due by 3:00pm on 4/14.
Crediting Sources
MLA formatting
Works Cited page
Thesis Statement
o Print out articles related to your topic
o Highlight and take notes on sources
Develop your thesis.
Work on/complete items due in the following weeks.
***Thesis due 4/17.
Continue to research information related to your topic.
Continue to read, highlight and take notes on sources.
Develop your outline.
***Outline due 4/24.
Work on/complete items due in the following weeks.
Continue to read, highlight and take notes on sources.
Work on writing your paper.
Develop your Works Cited page
***Works Cited page due 4/29.
Work on/complete items due in the following weeks.
Work on writing/revising paper.
Go through checklist and make corrections & revisions.
Rough Draft 1 for Peer Review is due 5/4.
Put finishing touches on your paper.
Organize paper for handing in.
Be sure that you have completed all required tasks as asked.
Rough Draft 2 for Peer Review is due 5/6.
5/8: Turn in Freshman Research Paper and ALL required elements no later than 3:00 pm
You may need more time than the above days to complete your paper- please plan your time.
You will receive a participation grade each day we are in the computer lab- please stay on task.
Be sure to bring you jump drive to school every day and also plan on taking it home. Having it accessible at
school will allow you to be able work on it in the time allotted and will prevent you from serving detention,
receiving a 0 or both.
Research Paper Format Checklist
1 inch margins on all pages (including outline and works cited)
Times New Roman font, 12 point
header with last name and page number (outline will be numbered differently)
EX: Smith 3
 final paper should be submitted in a pocket folder with your name clearly labeled on
the front and include the following:
left side
right side
rough draft(s)
Outline rough draft
cited articles in alphabetical order
Research paper
Works cited
Final outline
Student Signature
Thesis Checklist
Your thesis is more than a general statement about your main idea. It needs to establish a clear
position you will support with balanced proofs (logos, pathos, ethos). Use the checklist below to help
you create a thesis.
This section is adapted from Writing with a Thesis: A Rhetoric Reader by David Skwire and Sarah
 Make sure you avoid the following when creating your thesis:
 A thesis is not a title: Homes and schools (title) vs. Parents ought to participate more in the
education of their children (good thesis).
 A thesis is not an announcement of the subject: My subject is the incompetence of the
Supreme Court vs. The Supreme Court made a mistake when it ruled in favor of George W.
Bush in the 2000 election.
 A thesis is not a statement of absolute fact: Jane Austen is the author of Pride and Prejudice.
 A thesis is not the whole essay: A thesis is your main idea/claim/refutation/problem-solution
expressed in a single sentence or a combination of sentences.
Please note that according to the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, Sixth Edition, "A
thesis statement is a single sentence that formulates both your topic and your point of view" (Gibaldi
56). However, if your paper is more complex and requires a thesis statement, your thesis may require
a combination of sentences.
Make sure you follow these guidelines when creating your thesis:
 A good thesis is unified:
o Detective stories are not a high form of literature, but people have always been
fascinated by them, and many fine writers have experimented with them (floppy).
o Detective stories appeal to the basic human desire for thrills (concise).
 A good thesis is specific:
o James Joyce’s Ulysses is very good.
o James Joyce’s Ulysses helped create a new way for writers to deal with the
 Try to be as specific as possible (without providing too much detail) when creating your
o James Joyce’s Ulysses helped create a new way for writers to deal with the
o James Joyce’s Ulysses helped create a new way for writers to deal with the
unconscious by utilizing the findings of Freudian psychology and introducing the
techniques of literary stream-of-consciousness.
Quick Checklist:
_____ The thesis/claim follows the guidelines outlined above.
_____ The thesis/claim matches the requirements and goals of the assignment.
_____ The thesis/claim is clear and easily recognizable.
_____ The thesis/claim seems supportable by good reasoning/data, emotional appeal.
Step #1 - Prewriting - This is whatever you do to generate ideas about which to write. It can
include anything from
 discussing
 daydreaming and recalling memories
 drawing
 brainstorming
 observing
 interviewing
 interpreting photos or artwork
 watching films or TV
 using writing templates/ frames or cloze exercises
 responding to literature
 role playing
 mapping
 listening to music
 researching information
 imagining (and many more)
Step #2 - First Draft - Just start writing out your thoughts, and don’t worry about making or
correcting any mistakes. First it is important to get your ideas down on paper. Then you have
something with which to work. Corrections will come later.
Step #3 - Revision - Once you have written down your ideas, it is time to work with them and
refine your writing to more clearly express what you have in mind.
Step #4 - Proofreading & Editing - Finally, it is time to clean up errors in spelling,
punctuation, capitalization, grammar and usage. Once all of this is done, write or type your final
draft very neatly in presentation form.
Step #5 - Publishing - Show the world your masterpiece!
Revision Process
Add words, phrases or more information to help make your points clear and easy for the reader to
understand. Add transition words, phrases or sentences to tie your thoughts and paragraphs together.
Remove words that repeat themselves and information that does not relate to the main idea of your
paragraph or to the topic of the composition.
Move around words, phrases, sentences or even whole paragraphs in order to keep your ideas clear
and flowing toward a logical conclusion.
Substitute words with more exact words or phrases that express what you want to say more clearly.
Make all of your revisions on your first draft; then write your second draft.
_____ 1. Have you written an introduction? Do you have a statement to be proven or a question to be
_____ 2. Does each paragraph have a topic sentence, supporting concrete details, examples and
_____ 3. Do the supporting details and comments of each paragraph serve to prove the topic
sentence or answer the question posed?
_____ 4. Are the ideas stated clearly?
_____ 5. Are your sentences varied? (See that the same words and phrases are not repeated over and
over again.)
_____ 6. Is your point of view clear?
_____ 7. Does each paragraph relate to the main topic as stated in your introduction?
_____ 8. Do you have good transitioning sentences that lead the reader from one paragraph into the
_____ 9. Have you written a conclusion?
_____10. Does your conclusion answer the question, "So What?" (in other words - "Why is it
important? and "What must we do about it?")
Once you have made all of your revisions, and written your second draft, put your essay aside for a
day or two. Then go back to look for and correct errors in spelling, sentence structure, punctuation,
capitalization, grammar and usage.