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Writing A Research Paper. ENGL 1301. Topic. Focus Explore—Research!/Orient Yourself Sort out available information. Topics to Avoid. Topics based entirely on personal experience or opinion Topics fully explained in a single source Topics that are brand new Topics that are overly broad

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  • Focus
  • Explore—Research!/Orient Yourself
  • Sort out available information
topics to avoid
Topics to Avoid
  • Topics based entirely on personal experience or opinion
  • Topics fully explained in a single source
  • Topics that are brand new
  • Topics that are overly broad
  • Topics that have been worked over and over
from topic to issue to claim
From Topic, to Issue, to Claim
  • Use brainstorming to narrow down the topic and create an issue
  • Issue = Question
  • Avoid simple issues/issues that can be easily answered by a single source
  • Come up with a tentative claim—a hypothesis
  • Test and refine hypothesis as you research
  • Having claim will prevent you from being overwhelmed by the information of the sources you read
claims for different purposes
Claims for Different Purposes
  • Try to Establish Something as a Fact—Point of your informative research paper
  • Defend or oppose some policy
  • Support or oppose some action
  • Assert the greater value of someone or something
    • Often deductive as you show how conclusions follow from agreed-upon values
directing essay to readers
Directing Essay to Readers

Need to know:

  • How much does audience know about this issue?
  • What are readers’ interests, expectations, and needs concerning this issue?
  • What evidence is most likely to inform them?
  • What objections and consequences would probably weigh most heavily with them?
research using sources
Research: Using Sources
  • The best and most reliable sources are old-fashioned print media (often now in electronic form but initially in print form)
  • If you restrict yourself to electronic sources like the Internet, you do yourself a disservice
finding sources using the library
Finding Sources Using the Library
  • Go Through Cougarweb
  • Online Catalog, includes Ebooks
  • Databases
    • Full Text Only
evaluating sources
Evaluating Sources

Most reputable sources:

  • Books published by academic and university presses
  • Articles in scholarly and professional journals
  • Articles in prominent and reputable newspapers
questions on sources
Questions on Sources
  • Is the information recent? If not, is the validity of the information likely to have changed?
  • How credible is the author? Is he/she an expert on the subject?
  • Does the argument seem sound, fair, thoughtful?
  • Is the evidence convincing?
evaluating web sources
Evaluating Web Sources

Restrict yourself to web sources:

  • Signed by an Author
  • Hosted by a Respectable Site,
    • University
    • Library
    • Official Association devoted to the topic

Also ask:

  • Does it explain how the data was obtained?
  • Does it appear to misuse any data?
  • Is the information it presents consistent with other material you have found?
  • If not, does it provide adequate support for its claims?
taking notes on sources
Taking Notes on Sources
  • Write down everything that might be useful later—remember to include author and title
  • Write down page numbers and double-check facts and spellings
  • Think about why you chose to write down a particular idea—write a commentary on it
  • Differentiate your ideas/words from those of your source!
  • Use quotation marks for direct quotations!
drafting the research paper
Drafting the Research Paper
  • Revisit tentative thesis and refine as needed
  • In outline, figure out where each source might fit
  • Construct an essay of your own using secondary sources to support your structure of ideas and evidence
integrating sources
Integrating Sources

The source is an article, “The Temper of the

1920s” by Frederick J. Hoffman.

  • In “The Temper of the 1920s,” literary historian Fredrick J. Hoffman argues that the young American writers of the 1920s rejected the values and conventions of America’s literary tradition, pointed to World War I as a sign that Western civilization had failed them, and turned to art as the source of meaning.
  • Summary—gives main idea, types of evidence, supporting points. Short, not exhaustive, a succinct overview, often much shorter than original
  • Paraphrase—puts the information into new words. About the same length as original, possibly longer or shorter
  • Quotation—records exact wording and punctuation of source and enclosed in quotation marks
when to use a summary
When to Use a Summary
  • Get across main ideas from source
  • Take a long passage and focus on main points to provide background or general support for your point
  • Remember to cite source!
when to use a paraphrase
When to Use a Paraphrase
  • To clarify meaning of obscure or ambiguous term or idea
  • Get across significant details author has described
  • When source’s language is not especially arresting or memorable
  • Useful to make sure you “get” the original
when to use a quotation
When to Use a Quotation
  • Author’s words are especially vivid or expressive
  • Exact wording needed for technical accuracy
  • Words of reliable authority would lend support
  • Highlight an opinion
  • Language of source is topic of discussion
  • If you make a change, you need to indicate it
  • May combine paraphrase with one special or technical term quoted
benefits of summary and paraphrase over quotations
Benefits of Summary and Paraphrase over Quotations
  • Keep quotations as short as possible
  • Summaries and Paraphrases fit better into your prose style
  • Paraphrase is easier to integrate into your essay than quotation
avoiding plagiarism
Avoiding Plagiarism

Document everything you learn from a source,

including ideas andlanguage

  • If you express the ideas of others in your own words, still need complete, correct documentation
  • Exception: extremely common knowledge
    • The fact that something is repeated verbatim on several internet sites does not make it common knowledge—it may mean they are plagiarizing from another source
paraphrasing do s and don ts
Paraphrasing Do’s and Don’ts


  • change a few words here and there
  • omit a few sentences or scramble their order
  • use same sentence patterns or vocabulary
  • strain to find substitutes for words that are essential to the meaning of a passage


  • Introduce your own comments or reflections, just be sure to indicate that these are not those of the source
  • Reproduce the original’s emphasis and details
  • Indicate the page numbers of the original source as well as author’s name
  • Use a dictionary if any words in the original are not completely familiar to you
  • Work with whole ideas—break complex sentences down into several simpler ones of your own
incorrect and correct paraphrase
Incorrect and Correct Paraphrase

From “Causes of Prejudice” by Vincent Parrillo on page 577:

“Prejudice is a complex because it is most likely the product of more

than one causal agent.”

  • Incorrect paraphrase: Vincent Parrillo claims that prejudice is complex because it is most likely the product of more than one causal agent. (577).
  • Incorrect paraphrase: Vincent Parillo claims that prejudice complex; it is usually produced by more than one cause (577).
  • Incorrect paraphrase: Multiple causes often create prejudice, making it a complicated phenomenon.
  • Example of correct paraphrase: According to Vincent Parrillo, multiple causes often create prejudice, making it a complicated phenomenon (577).
practice paraphrase
Practice Paraphrase

From Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers: “In the early nineteenth century, a group of reformers set out to establish a system of public education in the United States. What passed for public school at the time was a haphazard assortment of locally run one-room schoolhouses and overcrowded urban classrooms scattered around the country. In rural areas, schools closed in the spring and fall and ran all summer long, so that children could help out in the busy planting and harvesting seasons. In the city, many schools mirrored the long and chaotic schedules of the children’s working-class parents. The reformers wanted to make sure that all children went to school and that public school was comprehensive, meaning that all children got enough basic schooling to learn how to read and write and do basic arithmetic and function as productive citizens” (252).

how to integrate quotations don t just drop it in
How to Integrate Quotations: Don’t Just Drop It In!
  • Be wary of the assumption that a quotation is self-sufficient or its meaning self-evident
  • Every time you put a quotation in your paper, be sure to identify the source with a signal phrase
  • Provide sufficient context so that your reader understands what the quotation means and how it relates to your ideas
  • You may need to paraphrase material surrounding the quotation to provide context
how to integrate quotations signal phrases
How to Integrate Quotations: Signal Phrases

Signal Phrase tells reader a bit about the


  • Author’s or organization’s name and verb that reveals something about the author’s position
    • Robert Pearson acknowledges, advises, affirms, advocates, believes, charges, claims, concludes, concurs, contends, criticizes, denies, discusses, emphasizes, interprets, objects, offers, observes, responds, reports (etc.)
    • Can precede quotation, interrupt it, or follow it
integrating quotations variations
Integrating Quotations: Variations

Vary the signal phrase

  • Reynolds makes a strong case that Poe was influenced by the popular press: “Poe frequently included in his tales phenomena recently reported on by the daily papers” (399).
  • Reynolds further explains that Poe “frequently included in his tales phenomena recently reported on by the daily papers” (399).
  • According to Reynolds, “Poe frequently included in his tales phenomena recently reported on by the daily papers” (399).
rules for quotations
Rules for Quotations
  • Quote fairly and accurately; don’t distort the meaning of the original
  • When quoting up to 4 lines of prose or 3 lines of poetry, integrate the quotations directly into your paragraph; enclose the quoted material in double quotation marks
  • Block Quotations—omit quotation marks, start a new line and indent twice the amount as you would to start a new paragraph (10 spaces or 1 inch) on the left margin only, no extra spaces before or after quotation. Page number appears after period at end of block quotation.
  • Block quotations should be rare
block quotation
Block Quotation

Margaret Bledsoe disagrees:

From all that we know of “enlightened self- interest,” the best chance that humans will begin to act differently from their habitual response is if they are provided a clear model for change, one that answers their most pressing questions concerning the needs of their everyday lives. Utopian images will simply confuse them. (73)

That said, ideals can motivate people to reach beyond

their daily experience and to examine new possibilities.

changing quotations
Changing Quotations
  • If the source has a grammatical or spelling error, reproduce it exactly, but indicate it is not your error with sic in square brackets:
    • John Berring claims that the class struggle “represents the zeitgiest [sic] of the 19th century” (223).
  • To change words, enclose the alteration in square brackets:
    • “Much of Matthew Pearl’s research involved reading newspaper articles written at the time of [Poe’s] death” (Carson 99).
  • To change from lowercase to uppercase or vice versa, use square brackets
    • The doctor told him to “[t]ake these pills” (Harris 7).
deletions from quotations
Deletions from Quotations
  • To delete words, indicate deletion with an ellipsis (three spaced periods): Standish is also correct that the French Revolution “left in its wake . . . years of uncertainty about the nature of democracy in France” (78).
  • When an omission comes at the end of the sentence and what is quoted can stand as a complete sentence, use an unspaced period followed by an ellipsis: According to Jane Hendricks, “The plight of the freedman in the South also angered the abolitionists. . . .” (2).
  • When you drop a whole sentence, you also use an unspaced period followed by an ellipsis: Marcus Jacque finds fault with this explanation: “The notion that truth is relative does not open up a Pandora’s box of moral turpitude. . . . On the contrary, the mania for absolute truth is more likely to lead to violence” (151-52).
quotation in a quotation
Quotation in a Quotation

If there is a quotation within a quotation, use

single quotation marks:

  • “‘The last two and a half centuries have seen the rise, apogee, and decline of a family structure based on a male bread-winner norm’” (Seccombeqtd. in Hanagan 136).
  • Generally speaking cite source of quotation within a quotation in the signal phrase:
    • As Scottish poet Robert Burns once noted, “‘The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft agley’” (qtd. in Partridge 225).