_The Research Paper Guidebook
Welcome to the wonderful world of research paper writing! We are about to embark on our grandest English odyssey yet: the development and creation of the research paper. This packet will provide you with most of the guidelines and resources you will need to put together a smashingly successful research paper.
The rungs on the ladder to success A topic…something that is currently influencing lives and interesting you
Five (5) sources (at least)…the means to the end; three must be non-internet
Five (5) bibliography cards (at least)…an index of your information
25 note cards (at least)…the “guts” of your paper
An outline…a guaranteed guide to logical writing
A final draft…3-5 pages, typed, double spaced w/internal documentation
The etched-in-stone due date
To Be Determined
(within the first five minutes of your class period)
The nitty-gritty of grades Your paper will count for 3 test grades
...in other words, a lot
The process is worth nearly double the product. Follow the timeline and meet the deadlines or fail miserably.
These are just very broad suggestions. You will need to decide on a general topic, and then narrow it down to best present the information you uncover in your research. If you think of a topic that interests you, but you do not see it listed here, please be sure you run it by me for approval before you charge headlong into your research.
No two people may do the exact same topic.
Parental controls on TV or the Internet
Parent advisory labels
Movie, television, or video game rating systems
Graduated licensing for obtaining a driver’s license
Media influence on youth...violence, copy cat crimes, etc.
Gay-Straight Alliances in school
Religion in school
“God” in the Pledge of Allegiance
Cloning...people, plants, animals, food, etc.
Genetically altered food, drugs, animals, babies
Bi-racial marriage or adoption
Same-sex marriage or adoption
Obesity in America
Out of shape youth
Alternative medicines...acupuncture, homeopathy, reiki, etc.
Effects of video games on frequent players
Civil unrest...Israel-Palestine, North-South Korea, USA-Iraq, Congo-Zaire, etc.
English Department Plagiarism Policy Revised: April 11, 2001
Evidence of intentional plagiarism, to be defined below, shall result in the student’s being granted a grade of zero for the assignment in which the plagiarism occurs. Adherence to departmental grading rubrics shall be negated by such evidence.
Intentional plagiarism is defined as, but not limited to:
q Obvious, substantial, verbatim reproduction of information
q Clear claiming of others’ work as a student’s own
q Falsification of page numbers, fabrication of sources, or other deliberate misdocumentation
Evidence of technical plagiarism, to be defined below, shall result in the student’s being granted a lowered score (to be determined at the instructor’s discretion) for the assignment in which the plagiarism occurs.
Technical plagiarism is defined as, but not limited to:
q Poor paraphrasing amounting to “pearling” of another’s work
q Improper citation or documentation that misrepresents a source
q Insufficient citation of facts not held to be common knowledge (common knowledge is defined as facts readily available in a variety of sources)
q Poor incorporation of direct quotations
A committee of English department teachers shall be established to review, as needed, cases of plagiarism.
Parental contact will be made upon determination of intentional plagiarism.
Evaluating the Validity of Internet Sources
Is it clear what the author’s qualifications are for writing on the subject?
Is there a link to a page describing the goals (“About Us”) of the organization?
Is there a phone number or postal address to contact for more information?
Has the site or the author won any reputable awards?
Does the author clearly state where he got his information or his research?
Is the information free of grammatical, spelling, and typographical errors?
Is this information published anywhere else (such as in print form)?
Are there external links that support the website’s information?
Is the information presented with a minimum of bias?
If there is any advertising on the page, is it obviously separate from the information?
Are there dates on the page to indicate:
a. When the page was written
b. When the page was first placed on the Web?
c. When the page was last updated?
d. Are there any other indications that the material is kept current?
Is there an indication that the page has been completed, and is not still under construction?
Is it clear what topics the page is attempting to address?
Does the page succeed in addressing these topics, or has something significant been left out?
Is the information presented in a clear manner with its arguments well supported?
If you cannot confidently answer “Yes!” to the majority of these questions, you may need to look for a more reliable web site.
Note Cards Procedure:
I. Appearance…4x6 cards with lines
A. Note cards must be 4x6 inch size…this gives you ample room to write all the necessary information, but not so much room to tempt you to put too much information on one card
B. Note cards must have lines on one side (and not lines that you drew in with a pencil)…this allows you to neatly catalogue the source, page
number, information, and type of card…neatness counts in this case
II. Writing Guidelines…always use pen; write on one side
A. You will use a pen, of blue or black ink, for every single note card (why?…because pencil smudges, and key information tends to vanish, and
because this is the most formal academic document you will write this year, and formal documents demand formal writing utensils.)
B. You will only write on the side of the card that has lines (if you are tempted to go onto the back, chances are, you are putting far too much
information on each card.)
III. Format…label four key elements on each card
A. In the top right corner, write the type of card you are preparing
1. Summary: the info from a big chunk of reading put into your own words
2. Paraphrase: the info from 2-5 sentences put into your own words
3. Statistic: numbers, percentages, dollar amounts, dates, etc.
4. Direct Quotation: the exact words of an expert, un-paraphrased because they are simply too perfect to rephrase (on a direct quotation card,
be absolutely sure you write the name of the person you are quoting)
B. In the top center, write the topic of the card…topics are the main points you are going to cover (Ex. A paper about cancer might have card
topics of types, causes, symptoms, treatments, survival statistics)
C. In the top left, write the information you will need to cite the source.
IV. Paper Organization…order the topics, order the cards,
A. Divide your cards up into stacks by topic (top center of card)…you should have 4-8 topic piles…piles of one card should be combined
B. Arrange the topic piles in the most logical order for your paper
C. Arrange the cards within each topic pile in the most logical order for your paper
D. Use the topics (in the order you chose for B. above) as the Roman Numeral headings of your outline
E. Use the entire content of each note card in order as the A, B, C’s under each Roman Numeral heading
Sample Note Cards
Note the following indications:
Top Left Corner: Citation info Top Center: card topic Top Right Corner: Type of card
Author’s last name, p.# DISCRIMINATION Direct Quotation
“I’ve never even seen a Smurf, but I’ve heard the stories of their rootin’ and tootin’.
Frankly, I don’t need to see one to know that they are not a breed of creature I care to mix with.”
-Patrick Platypus of Marshville
Author’s last name, p.# SIZE LIMITATIONS Paraphrase
Smurfs are too small to hunt animals large enough to grant any
meaningful nutritional value to the community.
Author’s Last name, p.# FOOD Summary
Smurfs are mostly vegetarians and gather/prepare food that
grows naturally near their homes.
Examples: oak tree, poison ivy, and grass products; beans
I. Put your note cards in a logical order.
A. Sort your cards into piles, creating a separate pile for each topic (Remember: topics appear at the top, center of each note card.)
B. Arrange the topic piles into a logical order. This should be the order in which you think it makes the most sense to introduce each bit of info.
C. Within each topic pile, arrange the individual cards in the most logical order. Again, this should be the order in which you think it makes the most sense to present the information.
D. Stack all your piles on top of each other, keeping the cards and piles in order. In your hand you will have the contents of your outline (and your paper!)
II. Type the topic of your paper as the title of your outline.
III. Type your thesis statement in its entirety beneath the topic/title.
IV. Use the topics (the headings you used to separate your note cards into piles) from your note cards as the Roman Numerals of your outline.
V. Use the entire content of each note card as the capital letters of your outline.
A. Keep the cards in order from sorting; the first card will be A, the second will be B, and so on.
B. Type the entire contents of the card into the outline. Include source numbers and page numbers.
C. If you have several bits of information on one card, you may need to use the main idea as the capital letter, then break down the details in points 1, 2, 3, etc.
D. When you finish, you should have as many capital letters in your outline as you do note cards in your stack.
The Smurfs are a species of tiny forest-dwelling creatures with a well-developed culture.
A. Scientists believe the Smurfs evolved from elves who may have been lost. (Author, page 19)
B. The first recorded evidence of the existence of Smurfs was made by a groundskeeper named Gargamel in 1873. (Author, page 88)
C. The blue pigmentation of their skin may be the result of ingesting so many berries as part of their regular diet. (Author, page 43)
D. They are three apples high. (Author, page 21)
E. “We have never been able to determine how they have survived--even thrived--this long. Their population consists almost entirely of males, and the females who do exist do not appear to mate with the males, nor do they give birth to the undeveloped Smurfs who regularly appear in the colony.” -Dr. Michael Bascom, University of Ohio anthropology department (Author, page 2)
A. Each Smurf lives in a Portobello mushroom, hollowed out to create living and storage space. (Author, page 64)
B. The Portobello mushroom houses were the discovery/invention of Carpenter Smurf in 1987. (Author page 2)
1. he took shelter there because of a storm
2. no one knows where they lived before they got mushrooms
C. Smurfs do not co-habitate. (Author, page 64)
D. Smurfs use natural decorations. (Author, page 11)
1. gourds and pumpkins
2. dried grasses and flowers
3. tree bark artwork and sculptures
A. “70% of the Smurf population is vegetarians.” -from article by Gary G. Amell (Author, page 1)
B. They get their food from their surroundings where it grows naturally. (Author, page 1)
C. Common meals: oak tree soup, poison ivy pasta, cream of grass casserole, bean burritos (Author, page 1)
D. Meal preparation is typically done over an open fire because they don’t have electricity or plumbing. (Author, page 89)
A. Hiking is their most common outdoor activity. (Author, page 181)
What is Internal Documentation?
…and why do we need it?!
Internal documentation (also called “parenthetical documentation” or simply “documentation” for the sake of simplicity) is the way we acknowledge the authors of the sources from which we gathered our information. It lets the readers of our papers know that we didn’t commit the ugly, disgraceful crime of PLAGIARISM. In other words, it shows that we’re not ripping off someone else’s work and pretending it’s our own. By using internal documentation, we prove that we are accomplished researchers, capable of culling important details from a number of sources and combining them to create one, logical paper full of focused, ordered, and developed paragraphs!
…and what does it look like?!
(author’s last name, p.#).
You simply type the author’s last name, a comma, skip a space, then type “p.” and the number of the page from which the information came. The documentation goes at the end of the sentence of your paper in which the information you are documenting appears.
(Example) While their vegetarianism is certainly healthy, their massive consumption of beans tends to give the Smurfs gas. The result is that other animals avoid contact with them because of their smell. In an article in Woodland Weekly, Herbert Hedgehog, the Chairman of the Forest Wildlife Community Committee, said, “It’s not that I wouldn’t like to spend time with them, in theory, but they do secrete an unpleasant smell as a result of their dietary dependence on the so-called musical fruit” (Amell, p.1). (NOTICE: the period for the whole sentence goes after the documentation.)
…and when do we need it?!
You must use internal documentation anytime the information you are using in your paper is not common knowledge. We all know that the Smurfs are blue; you would not have to document that. We don’t all know that the Smurfs are one of only six species in the world to be possessed of only six total toes and fingers; you would have to document that.
ALWAYS DOCUMENT: statistics, percentages, dates, obscure or scientific facts, direct quotations from an individual, and the exact words of another author