Research Paper Guide

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SOURCE LIST

 

A source list is where all the information is kept about each source.  When the source list is due, turn in a typed sheet formatted just like a WORKS CITED page for a research paper.  Include at least 2 books, 2 periodicals, and 1 quotation book on your list.  Do not tell me that you will find the required sources later. You may not be able to locate what you need, and we need to know that information immediately. 

 

A sheet that explains how to format your sources is enclosed in this packet, “MLA Documentation.”  Follow the instructions on this sheet to write your source page.  

 

Order of Information

1.      Author information: write the last name, then a comma, then the first name, then a period.

2.      Title information: underline the titles of books and magazines.  Place a period after the title.

3.      Publication information: write the place  of publication, colon, the publishing company, comma, date of publication, period.

 

Note the margins, form, order, punctuation, and location of source.  These parts are all necessary for your source page and will be graded strictly.  Do not leave out any part. 

 





 

THESIS STATEMENT

 

After gathering sources and previewing some of the information, you should have a better idea about the focus of your topic.  Now it is time to develop that controlling idea into a sentence referred to as the THESIS.  State your controlling idea, which must include a subject and an opinion, in a single sentence.  The thesis statement has two important tasks:

1.      It states the main point of the paper.

2.      It suggests the path that your paper will follow by indicating what your 3-5 main points will be

 

REMINDERS:

** One sentence                         **No first or second person

** No run-on sentences              **No “In this paper, it will be shown...” (weak!)

 

 

PREPARING A TOPIC OUTLINE

 

A topic outline is a preliminary outline that will guide you in your reading and note-taking.  Once you have an overview of your topic, you are ready to decide what aspects of the topic you want to cover in your paper and how you want to organize them.  Preparing a topic outline helps guide your note-taking.  As you take notes and highlight your sources, you will revise your topic outline by adding subheadings, changing your major headings, or even dropping some headings entirely.  Keep in mind that this is NOT the formal sentence outline you will turn in right before the rough draft.  This is simply a listing of the topics and sub-topics for your paper that will help guide your note taking.

 

CLOSELY READING YOUR SOURCES

 

Gather more sources than you think you will need for the paper.  When you first read a source, do not try to absorb all the information presented.  Instead, skim the pages in search of material that is relevant to the headings on your working outline.  For full-length books, study the tables of contents and indexes to find the sections that apply to your outline.

 

Photocopy the pages of sources you find helpful.  Also Xerox the title and copyright  pages of any books you use.  It helps in writing the source list later. 

 

When you find information that you think will be useful, highlight that information.  Then, take notes on your sources, either on note cards or on notebook paper.  Paraphrase, summarize, or use direct quotes.

1.       paraphrasing: restating the author’s ideas in your own words

2.       summarizing:  restating only the main points and important supporting details

3.       direct quotation: presents the exact words from a source

 

Use direct quotes SPARINGLY in a paper and only when quoting a primary source (a famous person’s actual words, an eye witness, words from a novel).  Do not quote an author who is explaining someone else’s work (example: an encyclopedia).  These are called secondary sources.

 

Note Cards

Note cards came into existence because long ago researchers could not always check out their sources from libraries or purchase the books they needed for research.  Note-taking on cards was a way to research a topic and gather information before leaving the library.  Since the invention and wide-spread availability of photocopiers, researcher now Xerox their source material and highlight relevant information.  The development of the World Wide Web in 1995 has made research easier to accomplish at home, but source material must still be evaluated for credibility and printed out for easy note-taking.  Note cards are  not required for this project; however, if you wish to use them, here is a sample:

 SAMPLE NOTE CARD

 

 

 

EPCOT Center                                                                       Smith 103

 

 

EPCOT Center is shaped something like a giant hourglass.  Future world fills

 

up the northern bulb, while world showcase occupies the southern half.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                           Joey Smoey

 

Take notes on paper or on note cards.  Take notes and THEN write your sentence outline.  Create sub points on information you have found - not information that you hope to find.

 

PREPARING YOUR RESEARCH SPEECH

 

After you take notes on your topic, you will be ready to give a 2-3 minute speech to the class on your research.  See attached “speech outline notes” page for help in shaping your speech.  Do not read your speech.  Organize your ideas on paper, and tell us about your research findings. 

 

PREPARING A SENTENCE OUTLINE

 

Before you took notes, you wrote down ideas and subtopics for your subject.  This rough listing of ideas is referred to as a topic outline.  As you took notes, you referred back to this working outline for guidance in the kinds of information to gather. 

 

Since taking notes, you know more about your topic.  Now you can write a sentence outline. Your rough draft will grow out of your sentence outline.  Now you can determine which subtopics may be disregarded and which may be kept and further developed. 

 

Excerpt from a Sentence Outline

 

IV.               The working conditions for a teacher are tough, and the rewards do not come from a teacher’s paycheck.

A.      The hours are long - teachers may spend 50 hours a week

working, grading papers, and preparing for class.

B.      The job is stressful.

C.      The salaries are low for a profession:

1.      Starting salaries are around $24,000.

2.      Average salaries are around $42,000.

3.      Even after years of experience, salaries are low.

 

 

Here is that same information after it has been turned into a paragraph for a rough draft:

 

         

      Someone who prepares for a teaching career must be prepared for the working conditions, and the fact that these conditions are not balanced with high salaries.  Although the public thinks that teachers’ jobs are over at 3:20, most teachers work around fifty hours a week on grading papers and preparing for classes (Brown 421).  Furthermore, teaching is a highly stressful job: dealing with teenagers can be very difficult (Mayer 26).  These conditions seem to warrant high salaries, yet teachers’ salaries are low, starting at only $24,000 (Smith 54).  The average salary is $42,000 (Smith 55).  Even teachers with years of experience and master’s degrees do not earn as much as one might expect (Moss 69).  Clearly, the working conditions for teachers are less than desirable, and the salary does not make up for these problems.

 

 

  •     Notice that the topic sentence of the paragraph matches the sentence after the Roman numeral

  •     Notice that I added a concluding sentence that was NOT IN THE SENTENCE OUTLINE

  •     Notice that each of the other sentences matches a letter of the outline or a number under a letter.

  •     Also, notice the material in parentheses.  What does that come from?  It comes from your highlighted sources.

 

ROUGH DRAFT REMINDERS

 

  •        Your thesis sentence must be the last sentence in your introductory paragraph.  Your introductory paragraph only needs to be 2-3 sentences long.  Start off with your quote and explain it.  Then, add your thesis at the end of the paragraph.

 

  •        All body paragraphs (does not include introductory and concluding paragraphs) must be 6-8 sentences long.

 

  •        All paragraphs must have a topic sentence and a clincher sentence of your own.  These two sentences need no parenthetical documentation.

 

  •  NO use of the first or second person (no “I,”  “we,”  “us,”  or “you”)

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