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Writing a Research Paper

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  1. Senior Project Crash Course: WRHS Senior Project 2010-11 Writing a Research Paper

  2. Contents • Senior Project: Background • The Thesis Statement • Organizing your Paper • Incorporating and Citing Research

  3. What is a research paper? • Research (noun) – careful or diligent search. (verb) To search or investigate exhaustively. • A research paper combines two activities: • Doing research • Writing an academic paper • What a research paper is NOT: • A book report—reporting facts from one book • An essay—generally all about your ideas • Journalism—without bias

  4. Senior Project:WHY?????? • How to do and useresearch • Prepare for college and the world of work • Reading, writing and public speaking • Problem-solving and organization • Self-discipline and time management • Critical and creative thinking • Explore and share a chosen area of interest • Connect to your future as citizens, employees and lifelong learners!

  5. Senior Project:Guiding Principles • It’s all about you, the student, providing a worthwhile project • Based on interest, passion or career choice • Should be a learning stretch, not a list of facts • A graduation expectation • A right of passage

  6. Senior Project:Research Paper Requirements • 6-8 pages • MLA style • 6 sources (3 print, 2 internet, 1 interview) • Rough draft (best effort possible, including all necessary components) • Revised final paper (following teacher’s suggestion, accompanied by rough draft)

  7. Topic Selection: Hints and Help • Be interested! • A career? • A cause? • A hobby? • Broad enough to access information, specific enough to make research possible • STRETCH! Challenge yourself academically and creatively

  8. What is Plagiarism? • The use of another’s thoughts, words or concepts without proper attribution • Considered intellectual property theft, a serious, punishable event with serious consequences • Unethical • Various forms: • Copying from source research—articles, web sites, etc. • Using a sibling’s or friend’s paper • Purchasing a paper • Work must be original, with all sources properly cited

  9. Writing a Research Paper: The Thesis Statement

  10. QUESTION:If you were writing a paper to convince your parents to let you have your own car, your thesis would not be:“It’s important for me to have a car.”WHY???

  11. THESIS the-sis nA position or a proposition that a person (as a candidate for scholastic honors) advances and offers to maintain by argumentTranslation: a clear, concise, unambiguous statement of what your opinion is on the topic you’re discussing.

  12. What is a Thesis Statement? • The glue that holds the paper together; the premise that will be defended or refuted • Should be: • Focused • Arguable • Interesting • Typically the last sentence of the introduction—required for Senior Project

  13. Requirements of a Successful Thesis • Statement ofopinion • Reliant upon research • Clear and explicit • Succinct—typically one sentence • Presented early in paper—typically last sentence of first paragraph (senior paper requirement)

  14. Thesis Statement:Common Pitfalls • Being “unopinionated” • Be bold! Take a stand and make people think! • Having too broad a focus • Forces you to cram, jump around through all your research; ends up being vague • Narrow focus so that it is manageable and arguable • Neglecting your research • Not just your opinion; MUST be defended by research

  15. Thesis StatementWhat it is NOT: • It is NOT the topic itself • Example: “The History of Book Banning” is not a thesis. • Your opinion on book banning—for instance, that it often increases a book’s popularity—could be. • It is NOT a statement about or a summary of the research you’ve done. • “The history of tennis dates back thousands of years, beginning in ancient Greece” is not a thesis. • Your opinion on how social class impacts women’s professional tennis—i.e., with those players having access to country clubs and private lesson benefitting most—could be. • It is NOT a general statement of opinion unsupportable by research • Example: “My favorite kind of dance is ballet” is not thesis. • Your opinion on the benefits of ballet to the athlete—i.e., that it improves flexibility and agility and instills self-discipline—could be.

  16. Thesis Statement:The Three-Prong Approach Main Argument/Position Lists 3 main points within your thesis statement that support your main position Sets up a logical outline of your entire paper Each supporting point becomes a topic sentence within the body of the paper Example: Practicing ballet can benefit any athlete because it improves flexibility, increases agility, and instills self-discipline.

  17. Developing a Thesis 1. First, write down your topic. 2. Now, write your statement of purpose. “I intend to show…” “I intend to prove…” “I intend to demonstrate…” 3. Finally, just eliminate the beginning of your statement of purpose.

  18. Developing a Thesis: EXAMPLE • First, write down your topic: PRIMITIVE ART 2. Now, write your statement of purpose: “I intend to show that collecting primitive art can be an inexpensive, aesthetically pleasing, and profitable venture.” • Finally, just eliminate the beginning of your statement of purpose: “Collecting primitive art can be an inexpensive, aesthetically pleasing, and profitable venture.”

  19. EXERCISE:Develop a three-prong thesis statement that will act as the cornerstone argument in convincing your parents to let you have your own car.(Remember: focused, arguable, interesting.)

  20. EXERCISE:Develop a three-prong thesis statement on the following:A senior project should/should not be a requirement for high school graduation.(Remember: focused, arguable, interesting.)

  21. EXERCISE:Develop a three-prong thesis statement on the following:Lady Macbeth represents/does not represent one of the strongest female characters in all of literature.(Remember: focused, arguable, interesting.)

  22. EXERCISE/HOMEWORK:Revisit your own senior research paper and rewrite your thesis statement to make it focused, arguable and interesting.(A three-prong thesis is highly recommended.)

  23. Writing a Research Paper Organizing your Paper

  24. The Outline: Your Road Map • Organizes your thoughts and research into a cohesive, structured whole • Don’t just toss everything under your thesis statement and hope it makes sense! • Arrange information to follow your argument • Eliminate anything that isn’t logical, relevant or effective • A strong organization plan makes your job much easier!

  25. Research Paper Outline • Introduction • Body • Conclusion

  26. Research Paper Outline • Introduction • Introduce topic • Deliver your thesis statement

  27. Introduction • Inverted pyramid—start with general and narrow down.

  28. Research Paper Outline • Body— “The Meat” • First major supporting argument • Statement of argument • Reasoning and research/evidence • Second major supporting argument • Statement of argument • Reasoning and research/evidence • Third major supporting argument • Statement of argument • Reasoning and research/evidence

  29. The Body:Setting up your Arguments • Ask yourself: • Is it relevant to your thesis? • Do you have sufficient supporting evidence? • Is it critical, or am I attached because I found research? • Does it fit logically within the paper, or is it a departure? • Organize • Strongest to weakest • Chronological • Logical flow

  30. The Body:Using Topic Sentences • One key point per paragraph • Reveals the point of the paragraph it introduces • Transition from preceding paragraph • “Another type of dance to consider…” • “After focusing on the religious significance, it is also important to consider…” • “In a related incidence…” • “Additionally…”

  31. Research/Evidence • Direct quotations • Properly cited summaries of other writers’ arguments • Facts and figures • All of the above

  32. Research Paper Outline • Conclusion– “The Bun” • Thesis restatement • Argument summary • Broader implications

  33. Conclusion

  34. Research Paper Outline • Introduction • Introduce topic • Deliver your thesis statement • Body • First major supporting argument • Statement of argument • Reasoning and research/evidence • Second major supporting argument • Statement of argument • Reasoning and research/evidence • Third major supporting argument • Statement of argument • Reasoning and research/evidence • Conclusion • Thesis restatement • Argument summary, broader implications

  35. EXERCISE/HOMEWORK:Revisit the first draft of your research paper. Using your revised thesis statement and the supporting research you have thus far:1. Create a new outline for your paper.2. Draft a topic sentence for each main argument within your thesis that you will support through research. (You may need to revised your topic sentences later, but do the best you can with what you currently have.)

  36. Writing a Research Paper: Incorporating and Citing Research

  37. Incorporating your Sources • Know when to use what. • Quotations: Use sparingly. Only if succinct, beautifully worded and original. • Use ellipses… to remove unnecessary wording. • Paraphrasing: A great way to capture an expert opinion and make it concise. Cite it! • Balance research and opinion. Not only the research, but your take on it. • Guide your reader. Tell her how to interpret the material.

  38. Introducing your Sources • Only you know who your sources are. • Include credentials the first time you name a source. INNEFFECTIVE: “Ed Said argues…” EFFECTIVE: “Ed Said, a well-known professor of Middle East Studies at Columbia University, writes…”

  39. Citing Sources • Don’t cite common knowledge (CK) • Appropriate for a reference book • CK: Columbus sailed for America in 1492. • Not CK: A theory about Columbus’ motivation to explore • Widely known, often referenced • CK: We know little about Shakespeare’s life • Not CK: Shakespeare’s marital situation

  40. Understanding MLA Style • Modern Language Association • Detailed guidelines for citing sources • Used in most academic papers • Adds credibility to your work • Two main components: • In-text citations—generally author’s last name and page number in parentheses, i.e., (Hemingway 23) • Works cited list—a detailed list of all your sources Any source that is included in your paper should be included in your Works Cited list, and vice versa

  41. Don’t worry about memorizing the many citation rules!You can refer tocitationmachine.net

  42. MLA Basic FormatBook: In-text Citation (Author, page number) Examples: As one author notes, “If I am lukewarm about the dahlia, I am red hot about the bearded iris” (White 97). If the author’s name appears in the text, you don’t need the name in parentheses: As author Katharine S. White notes, “If I am lukewarm about the dahlia, I am red hot about the bearded iris” (97).

  43. MLA Basic FormatBook: Works Cited Author’s last name, first name. Title of Book. City of Publication: Publishing company, publication date. Example: White, Katherine S. Onward and Upward in the Garden. Boston: Beacon Press 2002.

  44. MLA Basic FormatMagazine: In-text Citation Same rules for book: (Author, page number) Examples: “Where,” asks writer Brittany Thoreau, “have all the career-focused mothers gone?” (23)

  45. MLA Basic FormatMagazine: Works Cited Author’s last name, first name. “Title of Article.” Title of Magazine Month. Year: Page numbers. Example: Thoreau, Brittany. “The Opt-Out Epidemic.” Manhattan Mother Jan. 2004: 23-26.

  46. Some web sites include authors or editors, some do not. Use all the relevant information you can in this order: • Author’s Name • Material’s Title • Web Site Title • Name of editor(s) • Publication date or last update • Name of sponsoring organization • Date accessed • URL in <brackets> MLA Basic FormatWeb Site: Works Cited Examples: Nolan, Hamilton. “Individuality Is a New Luxury Automobile.” Gawker. Ed. Nick Denton. 25 Feb. 2008. March 2008 <http://www.gawker.com/news>.

  47. MLA Basic FormatPersonal Interview Interviewee Name. Personal Interview by Interviewer Name. dd/mm/yyyy Mills, Crista. Personal Interview by Carla McLeod. 01/02/2011.

  48. Other MLA Citation Requirements • First Page • Name, instructor, course title and date in upper left corner. • Title centered above body • Last name and page number on upper right of every subsequent page • Works Cited Page • Center words Works Cited above list • Capitalize all main words in a title • Alphabetize by author’s or editor’s last name • If no author exists, alphabetize by title • Indent the second and all subsequent lines in list • Remove hyperlinks

  49. All papers must be accompanied by a Turnitin.comreceiptor they will not be graded.