Research Paper Assignment
Due Date: Friday, April 17, 2009
Purpose: to inform the reader; to explain factual information to the reader
Assignment: Write a research paper of at least 500 to 700 words.
Writing Standard 2.3 - Write research reports about important ideas, issues, or events by using the following guidelines:
a. Frame questions that direct the investigation.
b. Establish a controlling idea or topic.
c. Develop the topic with simple facts, details, examples, and explanations.
Writing Standard 1.2 - Create multiple-paragraph expository compositions:
a. Establish a topic, important ideas, or events in sequence or chronological order.
b. Provide details and transitional expressions that link one paragraph to another in a clear line of thought.
c. Offer a concluding paragraph that summarizes important ideas and details.
Writing your paper:
- Write your thesis statement. It has two parts. One, it tells the reader your topic. Two, it explains the point of your essay. (Example: John Dickinson, while not a well-known founding father, was an influential writer who helped to inspire rebellion amongst the American colonists and who later helped to shape our Constitution.)
- Write your outline. You should have at least three sub-topics that support your main topic and your focus question on that topic.
- Write your body paragraphs. Write at least one paragraph for each of your sub-topics. Each body paragraph should follow the same basic structure. One, write your topic sentence. Two, write at least three sentences that support your topic sentence. You may also write sentences that elaborate on your supporting ideas. Three, write a concluding sentence.
- Write your introduction and conclusion. Now that the body of your essay is done, go back and introduce your topic and conclude your essay. Your introduction should immediately get the reader’s attention. It should also end with your thesis statement. Your conclusion should provide closure to your paper, summing up your main points.
A Note on Plagiarism
Using someone else’s ideas or phrasing and representing those ideas or phrasing as your own, either on purpose or through carelessness, is a serious offense known as plagiarism.
Avoid this problem by writing your notes in your own words. Paraphrase the information in your sources so that you are not copying what someone else has written. If your notes are in your own words, then your essay will be your own ideas in your own words, and you will not have plagiarized someone else’s writing. You will have written an original research essay, and that is the assignment.
Steps to Completing the Research Paper
Step 1: Choose a topic that interests you and which is an important part of the American Revolution.
Step 2: Find at least three sources to begin your research. One should be an encyclopedia article that gives you an overview of your topic. Read the encyclopedia overview and make sure you still want to research this topic. If not, go back to step 1.
Step 3: Show your three (or more) sources to your teacher. _ These three sources should be enough to get you started on your research so that you can go on to step 4. You may need to find more sources to complete your research paper.
Step 4: Narrow your topic by creating a focus question that you will answer in your research paper. Your focus question must relate directly to the American Revolution and the events that led up to it. You may not write about George Washington’s presidency or Benjamin Franklin’s inventions; neither of those topics relates directly to the American Revolution.
- For example, if you chose the topic of Abigail Adams, you might ask: “How dedicated a patriot was Abigail Adams?” Then you would follow that up with: “What specific actions did Abigail Adams take that show she was a dedicated patriot?”
- If you chose the topic of John Dickinson, you might ask: “Why is John Dickinson called the ‘penman of the Revolution?’” From that focus question follow more specific questions that help to answer the larger focus question. You might ask: “What did he write before and during the Revolution? Besides writing, what other actions did he take that supported the Revolution?”
Step 5: Clear your focus question with your teacher before you start taking notes. _
Step 6: Take notes from your sources. If you use note cards, each note card should contain a topic heading, one important fact or event, and the source where you found the information. You may want to use regular binder paper for notes. If so, put your topic heading, and then list the important facts or events that relate to that topic and the source where you found them. Remember, it is important to track your sources to prepare your bibliography.
Step 7: Once you have enough notes to write a complete paper, submit your notes to your teacher, who will either approve them as written or ask you to correct them or include more. _
Step 8: Write your paper. Follow the guidelines above under Research Paper Assignment.
Step 9: Write your bibliography. List your sources in alphabetical order based on the authors’ last names.
Step 10: Compile your research paper, including cover page, essay, and bibliography. Turn in to your teacher on time.