A research essay presents and develops a thesis supporting multiple sources of opinion. You stake out a subject narrow enough to be researched and you steep yourself in it. Then you formulate a thesis — your own attitude or opinion on the subject — and present it in a persuasive form, along with facts, opinions, and information that prove it true. You should use appeals and other methods to support your thesis, but you should also analyze each source you plan to use to support your thesis.
THE PARTS OF A RESEARCH ESSAY
There are two parts to a Research Essay:
RESEARCH ESSAY FORMAT
Much of the writing in your research essay comes from the work of other writers, and you must give proper credit by citing (mentioning) these sources in your paper. The art of citing is called documentation, which is required for any information falling into the following three categories:
QUOTATIONS AND CITATIONS
You will use quotations to include information from your sources in your essay. For example, if you were quoting a Newsweek magazine article on the Virgin Mary by Kenneth L. Woodward, you could write:
Kenneth L. Woodward, in his article on the Virgin Mary, writes that “the 20th century has belonged to Mary” (49).
According to Kenneth L. Woodward, the 20th century has “belonged to Mary” (49).
Kenneth L. Woodward writes: “The 20th century has belonged to Mary” (49).
You will use the MLA (Modern Languages Association) style for parenthetical documentation to list your sources on your Works Cited page, which is the last page of your essay.
You must use at least four sources (one or more from each of the following categories) and list them on your works cited page:
These sources should be listed in alphabetical order, by the author’s last name. Your source listings for books should look like this: Author’s last name, author’s first name, title of book, name of publisher, and year of publication.
For example, if we were listing author Barbara Kingsolver’s novel, The Bean Trees:
Kingsolver, Barbara. The Bean Trees. HarperCollins, 1988.
(The publisher and year of publication can usually be found at the beginning of a book, before the title page.)
Your source listings for articles should look like this: Author’s last name, author’s first name, title of article, name of magazine or newspaper, date of article, article’s page numbers.
For example, if we were listing Kenneth L. Woodward’s Newsweek article, “Hail, Mary”:
Woodward, Kenneth L. “Hail, Mary.” Newsweek. August 25, 1997: pp. 49-55.
Writing research essays is not as complicated as it sounds. Keep this sheet handy, think carefully about the subject you write about, and see me if you have any questions. Here is a list of possible research essay topics for you to choose from. You may also write about a topic you already wrote about in this class.