English 101óDr. Koch (Bob)




Topics and Sources


Please use what you have learned about composition and research to write a research paper on one of the following topics:


Will Mt. St. Helens (a volcano) erupt again soon?

Why hasnít New Orleans been rebuilt to repair the damage from Katrina?

Antagonism between Sunni and Shiite Moslems

Whether cities should sponsor Wi-Fi over their entire areas


All of these topics are too broad, and itís up to you to narrow them down so you can say something important about them in the length of paper you will be writing. Of course, you must also develop your own thesis. If none of these topics appeals to you, you may choose another, but you must first clear your topic with me. You can ask me before you prepare your proposal, or you can simply present it in your proposal, understanding that, if I donít approve your topic, you will have to redo your proposal.


Further Instructions


The paper should be 1,000 to 1,750 words long (3-5 pages) plus a title page and the list of works cited. It should be typed or word-processed and double-spaced. Please leave at least one-inch margins for my comments.


It is up to you to develop a thesis, which could be informative or argumentative. After you have decided upon a thesis, you should plan your paper to support the thesis. Your thesis is the governing principle of your essay, and you should subordinate material from your sources to your own purpose. Itís your paper. Donít allow quotations to make up more than a small portion of your paper, which should mostly be your own writing.


You must use at least four sources in your research paper:


††††††††††† One book (which can be an encyclopedia)

††††††††††† One article from the collegeís on-line database

††††††††††† One article from the Internet

††††††††††† One other source of your choice


When I speak of using a source, I mean that the book, article, or Web site must serve as a source for information, quotations, summaries or paraphrases that you include in your paper. You must also reference your sources and list them, using the correct MLA format, on a ďWorks CitedĒ page. If you have not quoted, summarized, paraphrased, or used information from a particular source, you should not include it on your list of works cited.


When you turn in your final version, you must include photocopies or printouts of your sources. Highlight the passages you have quoted and put brackets around the passages you have paraphrased. You need copy only the specific pages to which you referred. Please label them so I can tell which source is which.




When researching a topic, some people are tempted to copy what they find and include it in their own papers. If you do include exact words from your sources, you must enclose them in quotation marks and name your source, no matter how short the series of words is. Facts or ideas do not need to be enclosed in quotation marks, but you must still tell where you got the information. Naming your sources is really better for you than just copying. By naming your sources, you show that you have done your homework of gathering information from reliable places, so you gain credibility. If you donít say where you got the information, you are guilty of plagiarism. In summary, here is a definition of plagiarism: plagiarism is copying what somebody else has written or taking somebody elseís idea and trying to pass it off as original. Anyone who plagiarizes any part of the research paper risks receiving a grade of 0 for the paper.






Begin finding background information on your topic to orient yourself. Be looking for a focus and possible thesis statement. Get an idea of where you might find the information you will need.




Develop thesis and list of issues or subtopics that should be considered.





Turn in your proposal for your research paper. Late submissions will be accepted through November 5 with a one-letter-grade deduction during the first week and two-letter grade deduction during the second week after the due date. They will not be accepted after November 5.




Continue researching and considering your topic. Locate sources and prepare bibliography cards for them. Read your sources, digest information and ideas, take notes, save or print out Internet sources, copy other sources, and highlight sources. Begin developing a plan for presenting your ideas and evidence.





Firm up outline. Finalize decisions about what quotations, summaries, and paraphrases to include. Get note cards in proper shape for submission.




Turn in your outline and note cards, including paraphrases, quotations, and bibliographic information. Late submissions will be accepted through November 24 with a one-letter-grade deduction. They will not be accepted after that date.




Start writing draft.




Bring draft of research paper for peer view. After class, start revising and editing your draft so you can turn in the final version on 12/8.




Turn in final version of research paper, including list of works cited, draft, outline, note cards, and photocopies or print-outs of all source materials. Papers turned in late will lose one letter grade. No papers will be accepted after December 10.





Proposal. Towards the top of a sheet of paper, type your thesis, which should be clear, specific, and limited. Underneath, list the issues (matters that people might dispute) or subtopics and provide a brief discussion of each (one or two sentences). Below that provide a statement indicating where you can find the information you need, being as specific as possible.


Outline. The outline should be in sufficient detail to serve as a plan for your research paper. It should take up a full page and tell what you plan to do in each paragraph. I want to see your main subtopics broken down so I can see in some detail what you are planning to do. Notecards. You should turn in a bibliography card for each of four sources. You should use the MLA format for works-cited page listings, as described in Keys for Writers. Also, turn in at least four cards on which you have written quotations, summaries, or paraphrases of your sources, using the format described in the PowerPoint presentation for November 3.


List of works cited. List all your sources, which should be at least four in number. Use the MLA format described in Keys for Writers.


Draft. The draft should be a complete draft of the entire research paper so you will have the opportunity to revise it and make your final version as fine as possible.


Final version. The final version should be a complete revision of your draft. You should check not only grammar, spelling, and punctuation, but every aspect and feature of your essay. Have you provided enough evidence? Do you make sense? Do you have a gripping introduction? Are your paragraphs unified? Does each paragraph include a topic sentence? Does one idea lead naturally to the next? These are a few of the questions you should be asking yourself. There is a more complete list at the end of this document.


Checklist for Final Submission


Submit the following items in a folder:


  1. Cover page.
  2. Research paper.
  3. Works Cited, including all the sources actually referenced in the paper and no others.
  4. Outline.
  5. Note cards.

6.      Copies of sources, clearly identified to match with items on the list of Works Cited. Quoted passages should be highlighted, and paraphrased or summarized passages should be enclosed within brackets.


How Your Research Paper Will Be Graded


25% on development.

††††††††††† Have you written a clear thesis that you can develop well?

††††††††††† Have you discussed all the points your audience will expect you to discuss?

††††††††††† Have you elaborated on your main points by providing adequate details?

††††††††††† Have you defined ambiguous or unfamiliar terms in your paper?

††††††††††† Have you reasoned well?

††††††††††† Does one idea lead naturally to the next?

††††††††††† Have you used appropriate methods of development for each paragraph?

††††††††††† Are you sure that everything in the essay supports the thesis?

12.5% on interest and depth.

††††††††††† Have you provided your audience new information?

††††††††††† Have you improved your audienceís understanding of your subject matter?

††††††††††† Have you discussed your topic with some depth, going beyond the obvious or superficial?

12.5% on organization.

Do you have a good introduction, containing your thesis, and a satisfying conclusion?

††††††††††† Have you divided your materials logically into paragraphs?

††††††††††† Have you written unified paragraphs?

Have you made the topic of each paragraph clear by writing a topic sentence or by other means?

25% on grammar and style.

††††††††††† Have you written any sentence fragments or comma splices?

††††††††††† Does your paper contain any subject-verb agreement errors?

††††††††††† Have you achieved variety in vocabulary and sentence structure?

††††††††††† Have you selected the words that best express your thoughts?

††††††††††† Have you avoided verbosity and redundancy?

25% on use of research materials.

††††††††††† Have you used a sufficient number of sources?

Have you chosen good sources of information?

Do your sources adequately support your thesis?

††††††††††† Have you appropriately paraphrased, summarized, and quoted your sources?

††††††††††† Have you kept your sources from overwhelming your own voice in the paper?

††††††††††† Have you created appropriate and accurate parenthetical citations?

††††††††††† Have you correctly formatted your works cited page?

Does your works cited page include all the sources you quoted, summarized, or paraphrased, and no others?


The questions above cover the main points but not everything that might affect your grade.