Research Papers

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Paper, Order, or Assignment Requirements



Prompt for Essays #4 and #5 (Research Paper)


Essay #4 will be a minimum 1 ½ page proposal for your research paper.

Essay #5 will be the research paper, of a length of 6-10 pages, with an additional Works Cited page.


Due Dates:

Nov. 24 – Dec. 3 – One-on-one conferences. Bring your proposal to your conference with me. It must be at

least 1 ½ pages long. If your proposal fails to meet the length requirement or any of the other requirements below, you will be asked to revise and resubmit your proposal on our last day of class.

Thursday, Dec. 4­ – This is our last day of class. Attendance is mandatory.


Thursday, Dec. 11 – Research paper (final draft) due in the English main office by 5 p.m. Length must be 6-10 pages, with an additional Works Cited page. You may also e-mail me the research paper, but I will not be responsible if your e-mail fails to reach me by the deadline.



Research Proposal: The point of this assignment is for you to introduce and begin to think about the topic for your research paper. You proposal will be evaluated based on the originality of your idea, the specificity and focus of your idea, and the effort you have put in to making this idea truly your own. Making it “your own” means: asking questions, incorporating sources that you have found on your own (and showing how the sources we have already read together as a class have influenced your train of thought regarding both your own sources and your idea as a whole), and showing that you care; that you are invested in or at least have an interest in what you are discussing. The more specific you can get in narrowing down your field of inquiry, the better off you will be, both in terms of your grade for this assignment and your preparedness when it comes to writing the research paper itself.


In terms of structuring your proposal, you might find the following format helpful:


  • Get into the topic. Write a compelling opening paragraph that sets the stage interestingly, and ideally in multiple dimensions, for what you will be discussing. For instance, you might begin with an idea that fascinates you, or a current or historical event, or an event from your own life experience, or a rich detail from one of your sources. Think of this as a way to set the stakes for what you will be getting into, or in other words, to establish the importance/worthiness of your idea as a topic of research.
  • Define the topic itself. The more detailed you get here, the better. What sort of questions do you want to ask? What sorts of sources will help you to answer, or at least further articulate, those questions? You do not need to have an argument or thesis yet, but you need to lay out the steps you will take towards finding an argument.
  • Discuss the sources you have so far. These will include two of our readings from so far this semester. Important: your discussion of these sources should be taking place on a relatively sophisticated level; although you might write a sentence or two summary of the new source you have found, your goal here is to think through ideas (rather than giving a book report). Ideally, each of your sources will provide you with a different angle in on the central idea or problem of your research paper. In this section, you will discuss what each of those angles are, and how they in turn open up new questions.


Research Paper: In the final research paper due December 11th, you must have a total of at least five sources – at least two from our class readings, and three that you have found in your own research. At least one of the sources you have researched yourself must be a scholarly source.

The last page of your research paper must be a correctly-formatted Works Cited page.

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