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Give the paper an appropriate title.
Highlight and underline your thesis statement.
At least six pages.
12 font, double space, Times New Roman.
Ensure that every paragraph begins with a topic sentence.
Include the “Works Cited” or “Bibliography” page, not the annotated bibliography.
Works Cited page does not count as one of your required pages.
Do not include a title page.
Include your name, class name, professor’s name, and date at the top left-hand corner of the first page.
Number your pages.
Follow the MLA protocol.
There is no penalty for going beyond six pages.
There is a penalty for essays that fall short of 6 full pages.
Your research paper will be an argumentative synthesis, so it must be governed by an arguable thesis that you will frame.
Here are some rule-of-thump things you should do in order to ensure your best writing:
1. Once you have selected an approved text, you should read it carefully and attentively. While I am not against you reading summaries and viewing videos of the text, you must actually read the text completely, thoroughly, and reflectively.
2. Take notes about unique/striking patterns, images, recurrences, and symbols reflected in the text. What question do such observations impel you to ask? Highlight those you see as standing tall in your hierarchy of questions.
3. Pick the question you see as the most urgent and focus on it as your thesis question, and let it guide you in the formulation of your thesis.
4. Note that a good thesis has two parts. It contains a claim and it indicates how you plan to support that claim. While the development of a thesis may begin with a question, a fact, or an observation, none of these can be a thesis without further reflection. Example: “Complex metaphors of vanity are used in The Nun’s Priest’s Tale” is not a thesis. The claim does not say “why” Chaucer may be using complex metaphors of vanity. The “why” factor is missing from the statement, so it is not a thesis. “Why” introduces tension
that elicits an argument. A thesis is a claim or statement in which there is some complicating tension that forces an argument. A good thesis must also anticipate a counter-argument.
5. Note that writing a researched argument is like participating in a conversation. Palmquist explains it this way: “Think about the last time you were at a party, reception, or some other public gathering. When you arrived, you probably walked around, said hello to friends, and listened in on several conversations. Before long, you probably joined a group that was talking about something you found interesting. If you are like most people, you didn’t jump right into the conversation. Instead, you listened for a few minutes and thought about what was being said. Perhaps you learned something new. Eventually, you added your voice to the conversation, other members of the group picked up on what you said, and the conversation moved along”(p. 4 The Bedford Researcher). In your research paper, you will be adding your voice to an ongoing conversation about the book you have chosen to write about.
6. Pay close attention to what others have said about your topic (directly or indirectly) so that you would be able to see how your claim identifies and responds to a question that contributes to an ongoing conversation.
7. Throughout this process, you should ask these two questions about your thesis: 1. What question is my claim responding to? 2. How important is my research question in the context of the sources I am researching?
8. To participate meaningfully in a conversation, you cannot just repeat what everyone or someone else has already said; also, you cannot say things that have no bearing on the conversation; you should make a contribution that uniquely advances the conversation.
9. Your research paper is an attempt to answer an important question that you have raised about a primary source (the text you are writing about). The answer to the question should take the form of an argument in which your thesis is supported.
10. While most of your evidence should come from the primary text itself, you will need additional support from expert (secondary) sources.
11. The expert sources you select should demonstrate that your argument is an extension of preceding arguments by other scholars. Example: If you are writing an essay on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, you should focus on the play itself, but you also need to cite secondary sources by other scholars who have previously written about Hamlet. Just as you must analyze material from Hamlet to support your claim, you must also explain how the secondary sources you cite fit into the context of your claim.
12. Note that secondary sources can and should shape your own research. But they should not take over your own argument. Each secondary source you are using is an argument that also builds on previous ideas.
13. Although it is an addition to an ongoing academic conversation, your essay should be an articulation of your own voice.