First, let me answer the number one question about research papers:
Yes, you should be worried. If you are not worried about your research paper, you will not do a good job of it. The purpose of the research paper is to prepare you for the papers will have in college. On this site, you will find due dates and guidelines.

FOLLOW ALL GUIDELINES AND MEET ALL DEADLINES!


You will also find help for most of your needs. If you have additional questions, please e-mail me.

Too much information? Follow the STEP BY STEP GUIDE.

 

 

 

MLA Practice

Book Guide Sheet
Sample Title Page
Practice Title Page 1
Practice Title Page 2
Practice Title Page 3

Web Page Guide Sheet
Sample Page
Practice Page 1
Practice Page 2
Practice Page 3

Alford's Guide to MLA Bliss

Alford's Guide to In-Text Ecstasy

 

Part I - Picking a topic

 

Part II - Taking notes

 

Part III - Putting your house in order

(slugging, thesis statement)
 

Part IV - Writing the paper

(introduction, in-text, body, transistions, formal writing rules, conclusion)

Part V - So I finished my paper - now what?

(online proofreaders, in-text clean-up, works cited page)

Part VI - Submitting the paper

 

DEADLINES

 

Fri 4/7 – Blank note cards (100 cards at least) (100 Daily grade)

Mon 4/10 – 10 note cards filled out (not including source cards) (100 Daily grade)

Tues 4/11 – 25 note cards filled out (not including source cards) (100 Daily grade weighted 1.5)

Wed 4/12 - 40 note cards filled out (not including source cards) (100 Daily grade weighted twice)

Thurs 4/13 – 50 note cards filled out (not including source cards) (100 Quiz grade)

Mon 4/17 – Bring in all source cards (must be at least six) and all note cards (100 Daily grade)

Tues 4/18– Thesis statement (100 Quiz grade weighted twice)

Thurs 4/20– Bring in Rough Draft (at least 1 page typed or 3 handwritten) (100 Daily grade weighted twice)

Mon 4/24 – Bring in Rough Draft (at least 3 pages typed or 9 handwritten) (100 Quiz grade weighted twice)

Wed 4/26 – Bring in Rough Draft (at least 4 pages typed or 12 handwritten) (100 Quiz grade weighted twice)

Wed 4/26 – Bring in Works Cited Page (typed) (100 Daily grade weighted twice)

Friday 4/28– Research Paper due
(Test Grade quadruple weighted)

NOTE - The final due date is regardless of your attendance on that day. If you are absent and turn it in the next day, it is still one day late.

 

That adds up to:

  • 10.5 Daily Grades
  • 7 Quiz Grades
  • 4 Test Grades

I would say that this is well worth the effort.

 

Deadline Grades:
100 for each made deadline
0 for each missed deadline (no late grades)
Exempt for anyone absent on day of deadline

 

 

- Blank note cards (2 packs – different sizes)

- 15 note cards filled out (not including source cards)

– 30 note cards filled out (not including source cards)

– 45 note cards filled out (not including source cards)

– 60 note cards filled out (not including source cards)

– Bring in all source cards (must be at least eight) and all note cards

– Thesis statement check

- Rough Outline Check

– Bring in Rough Draft (at least 1 pages typed or 3 handwritten)

– Bring in Rough Draft (at least 3 pages typed or 9 handwritten)

- Bring in Rough Draft (at least 4 pages typed or 12 handwritten)

– Bring in Rough Draft (at least 6 pages typed or 18 handwritten)

– Bring in Rough Draft (at least 7 pages typed or 21 handwritten)

– Bring in Works Cited Page (typed)

– Bring in paper for final review

Research Paper due

Handouts

Note cards

Plagiarism for Dummies

Paraphrasing Handout

The Thesis Statement

Literary Criticisms (honors)

Quoting

Formal Writing Rules

In-Text Clean-up

How to Create a Works Cited Page

Honors Rubric

Enriched Rubric

Final Check Off List



Extra Credit

Missed a deadline? Do not despair! You can replace those zeros with a grade you get from the Study Island Research Paper Deus ex Machinas. You will need to do 10 questions in the assignment. Do one assignment for each zero you need to replace. No bonus points will be added to this grade.


Part I - Picking a topic

Regular English IV - you will pick a topic that can be argued. You will choose one side of the issue and convince me that your side is the correct one. I do not want both pros and cons. Just one side is fine. We are not FOX News so there is no need to be fair and balanced.

You can use these sites to maybe get you thinking about possible controversial topics:

 

 

Writing the Research Paper Links

These links take you away from this web site

 

Sources

Honors - Must have 8 sources total - one will be the book you are analyzing.

Regular - Must have 6 sources total.

 

 

Top Ten Reasons Students Get a Low Grade in their Writing:

  1. Poor organization
  2. Failure to support thesis
  3. Misspellings
  4. Inadequate citation of sources
  5. Confusing sentence structure
  6. Typos/sloppiness
  7. Sentence fragments
  8. Run-on sentences
  9. Incorrect word usage
  10. Little evidence of understanding the topic/ little evidence of research

See these in more detail plus more by clicking here.

Taken from:
Hansen, Randall S., Ph. D. and Katharine Hansen. Write Your Way to a Higher GPA. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press, 1997

 


 

Works Cited

The works cited page must included all works that have a parenthetical documentation in your paper. It cannot include any works that do not have a parenthetical cite in the paper.

Put the words Works Cited at the top of the page, centered.

Keep the font size the same as your paper.

Do not number or bullet your cites. Put them in alphabetical order.

The first line is at the left hand margin. All other lines in the cite are indented once.

Continue the cite until you hit the margin before you start a new line.

Make sure:

  • every source ends in a period

  • titles are properly capitalized, according to rules, not the way the title appears on the source

  • titles that should be underlined while handwriting should be in italics when typing

  • in-text of that source includes the first word of the source

How do you reverse indent? Highlight your entries, click the upside down triangle on the margins bar, drag it halfway to the 1, then drag the rectangle back to the original position. Here is a video that shows how:

Reverse Indenting

Common mistakes to look for when revising the Works Cited page:

  • you forgot to stop italicizing after a title and the rest of the entry is in italics
  • you do not have titles properly punctuated
  • make sure your web page titles have the period inside the quotation marks
  • count your sources to make sure you have enough
  • put spaces between words - this is wrong:
    Accessed14Apr.2017.
    Instead:
    Accessed 14 Apr. 2017.

Part II - Taking Notes

You will need approximately 10 note cards x the number of pages required for your paper. Then add about 15 to it because many of the first cards will not work well into your paper.

What do you need?

  • source cards - these cards will have the MLA of your source. You will write a letter at the top of this card (a different letter for each source). This is called a source code. You need to have at least six sources. It is helpful to have these cards look different from your note cards
  • note cards - these cards will have one piece of information or one quote. In the top right hand corner, put the same letter that you have on the source card for that source. This way you will know where this note came from later. If your source has a page number (book, magazine, database, etc.) then you must put the page number of that source under the source code.This handout shows you what it looks like.
  • time - expect it to take around one hour to get ten note cards This, of course, depends on several variables, but it is a good standard to use.
  • the ability to paraphrase so that you are not just copying from your source. Try this handout.

Paraphrasing Practice:

Here are some links to help you research -


THE MEGA SEARCH - NCWiseOwl
Starting to run into the same information over and over again? Then you need to try
NCWise Owl. Just click that little icon on your school laptop that looks like a Harry Potter game icon. Find out how to use it and how to cite it with this useful guide.

OUr Learning Common's Handy Research Resource

These links take you away from this site.

 

Part III - Putting Your House in Order

Now it is time for slugging. Take your note cards and make sure that they all have a source code on it before you begin.

Now remove your blank cards and put them out of the way.

Remove your source cards. Check to make sure each one has a period at the end of the MLA. Count them. Do you have at least six? If so, good. If not, no worries, wait a bit and you'll know where to continue researching in just a little bit. Put them away.

Take the remaining cards and start to put them into stacks by like information. For example, if I am researching banning the death penalty, I might have a stack of cards about how the death penalty is racist, another stack about how it is sexist, another stack of statistics of states that have the death penalty and those that do not, another stack of the history of the death penalty, and another stack of miscellaneous information.

It is now time to slug our cards. You are going to write a small one word description of that category on each card in each category (I know, I know...).

You need to figure that your argument is going to rely on three to four of those categories. Pick your strongest reasons. Take the other ones and put them to the side. Don't throw them away, just get them out of the way.

Organize each category so that the cards are in order of how you are going to present them in your paper.

Put the categories in the order that you are going to argue your point. Now your note cards are in order. When you type your paper, you can start with the first note card, work it in, move to the next. You will find that this is easier than trying to sort through a pile of cards while you write.

What about the left over cards? You ay find a good way to use them, but be prepared to leave them out. You do not want to put useless information into your paper just because you researched it. That makes your paper weak. I do not like weak papers.

THE THESIS STATEMENT

Basically, this is your paper summed up in one sentence. There are several ways to write a good thesis statement. Here is an easy way to write a decent statement:

Your Assertion + Your Categories

For example, if I am writing a paper arguing that an all ice cream diet is healthy and beneficial and my categories are the four food groups, healthy benefits, and case studies, I could write a decent (not great, but workable) statement this way:

Eating only ice cream as a diet plan is beneficial because ice cream contains all four food groups, the ingredients have healthy effects on the body, and several case studies prove this to work.

 

All of this information can all be found in this Thesis Statement worksheet.

Better yet, watch this video:

 

 

Part IV - Writing the Paper

O.K., now it is time to start writing the paper. Before you begin, let me remind you of the specs of this paper:

  • it will be five pages (not including the title page or works cited) - one word on the fifth page counts as a fifth page),
  • you will NOT write your title on the first page (that is why we have a title page),
  • it will be typed and double spaced,
  • you will keep default font (11 point Arial or Calibri),
  • and you will use standard margins.

Make sure you understand how to in-text.

I suggest that you write your paper by starting with the body. You have note cards to help you get through it and you can always go back and add in the introduction later. The introduction tends to be the hardest part to write. Information on each part of the paper is below.

You may wish to review these tip sheets:


Used with permission
Buy this shirt!

Before you go any further, make sure you understand this concept. Worried about accidental plagiarism? Read this sheet.

If you are going to write your paper using a word program other than Google Drive, you probably want to download DROPBOX and store your paper there. That way you can access your paper anywhere. If you lose your computer or it crashes, you have not lost the paper.

How do I write:

The INTRODUCTION

This paragraph exists for two purposes:

  1. to make me want to read your paper (and no, just being an English teacher does NOT make me want to spend my time at home reading high school papers.), and
  2. to set up your paper and tell your reader what it is going to be about.

Let's look at these two things. How do you grab my attention? Well, since attaching $100 bills to your paper is unethical, let's try an approach that actually relies on your writing skills. First you need a "hook" to catch my attention. Consider using these techniques:

  • Open with some unusual detail - (Movies like The Avengers and Man of Steel exist today because a man named Frederic Wertham convinced everyone that comic books cause little kids to act violently.)
  • Open with a strong statement - (A book about censoring comics books written in the 1950s is the reason that comic book companies were able to sell over $540 million worth of comics in 2014.)
  • Open with a quotation - (Frederic Wertham once said, "In comic books life is worth nothing; there is no dignity of a human being."
  • Open with an anecdote - (I once threw away a comic book I had bought with allowance money because I was ashamed. My father thought I had wasted my money something worthless. That same comic book is now selling for $456.00.) - *note* - this particular anecdote would not work well for our paper because we have a no first person pronoun rule.
  • Open with a question - ("How does Wonder Woman find her invisible plane?")

Your thesis statement should be somewhere in your introduction. Where? Well, that is up to you. You will probably find it easier (and quite effective) to make it your last sentence. Start broad, get narrower, then hit the reader with your thesis.

 

 

The Body

This is the easy part. In fact, I suggest that you start with your body and write your introduction later. You already have your note cards in order. Now you all you need to do is to look at that first note card and find a way to write that piece of information. Then you can go from there. Don't forget to put in your in-text documentation as you write.

If you listed your topics in your thesis statement, then write your paper in that order.

 

What Is In-Text Citation and Why Are You Making Me Do This?????

 

First of all, let's address why we are doing it:

This is an easy way of giving credit to your sources. Remember that plagiarism is copying someone's words OR ideas without giving proper credit.

So how do you do it? Simple. Just look at your source cards and follow the pattern to the right. It all depends on the first word of the source.

You can also use this sheet as a helpful guide:
Alford's Guide to In-Text Ecstasy

Once you finish, you can clean up unneeded in-text by following these guidelines for cleaning up in-text.

 

Run across something unusual? Check the Purdue Online Writing Center.

 

~

Transitions - these help your reader to realize that you are moving from one idea to the next. If you've ever been talking to someone who abruptly changes topic without letting you know that they were now talking about something else, then you understand how annoying a lack of transitions can be.

You can use transition sentences. If I was talking about comic book superheroes and I want to move to the amount of money that comic book movies are making, I could start my next paragraph like this:

"The Incredible Hulk may be super powerful, but that is nothing compared to the power that comic book movies have to make money."

You can also use transition words to alert your reader. Overusing these can make your writing seem childish and formulaic. However, using some here or there can add strength to your writing.

Some transition words:


Yet,
However,
Still,
Nevertheless,
On the other hand,
In contrast,
Instead of,
Notwithstanding,
To be exact,
To be specific,
More specifically,
More precisely,




Similarly,
Besides,
Furthermore,
Further,
Moreover,
In addition,
As a result,
For this reason,
Therefore,
Hence,
Consequently,
Accordingly

 

Other Issues in the body of the paper:

Repetition - this is using the same word too many times, or too closley together. Sometimes you can fix the problem by just choosing a different word and other times you will need to rewrite the sentence.

Example (using different words): change some of the phrases "the death penalty" to "capital punishment" and "execution".

Example (rewrite): While several comic books did have grisly scenes that were inappropriate for young children, many of the comic books mentioned by Fredrick Wertham were not comic books meant for children.

There were several grisly scenes that were inappropriate for young children; however, many of Federick Wertham's examples were from comics aimed toward adults.

Redundancy - this is harder to spot than repetition, although similar. This is when you say the same information using different words. Itis easy to think that you are saying something new, when in fact you are merely repeating yourself.

Example: People have been killed for years and some who were killed were innocent and still got killed because there was not enough evidence to prove them innocent.

Things that weaken your argument:

Too many quotes - the first rule in quoting is to not quote. If you find something that is vitally important to how it is worded, then fine. Otherwise, paraphrase it. Too many quotes makes it seem like you are trying to avoid writing.

Absolutes - rarely do you find something that is "always" this or "never" that. Avoid these types of comments.

Example: In everyone's eyes that is not right and something should be done about it.

Cliches - a cliche is an overused statement. Avoid them like the plague. (See what I did there?)

Example: Guns don't kill people, people kill people.

Exaggerations - Let your facts speak for themselves. Do not overstate them like this student did:

Example: College athletes should be treated like employees instead of slaves.

 

Formal Writing Rules

 

Off Limit Words - just get rid of them. All of them.

First person pronouns - I, me, our, my, mine, ours, us, we

Second person pronouns - you, your, y'all

Stupid words - very, nowadays, really, IDK, LOL

Contractions - can't, don't, it's

Phrases - "In this essay", "From my research", "In conclusion", " This is why I..."

 

 

 

The Conclusion

This is the last paragraph of your paper. You wrap up all your ideas in a neat little package. Please do NOT start your conclusion with these words: LASTLY, IN CONCLUSION, or FINALLY. We can see it is the last paragraph. You do not need to insult your reader by telling them that.

You will want to summarize your main points and reassert (note that I did not say restate) your position. Do not end your paper with a question. You can end with a quotation (especially effective if you tie that quotation in with a quotation from the introduction), a prediction, a recommendation, or a reference to something mentioned in the introduction. Here is a great way to do that (borrowed from Mr. Assael): Introductions and Conclusions


PART V - So I finished my rough draft. Now what?

PROOFREAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
REVISE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
OR ELSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You can use these sites to help proofread your paper online:

  • Turn It In - you need to use this site anyway, might as well get a plagiarism report and a grammar check from it
  • Curriculum SAS Pathways - no password needed, but username is temperature5bell
  • Paper Rater - this is a really good one
  • Hemmingway - great style checker to look for ways to make your writing flow easier
  • Virtual Writing Tutor - It explains your errors in an easy to understand format.
  • SlickWrite - just paste your text in and hit the check button. It underlines what may be wrong and if you click it, it will give you suggestions.
  • Polish My Writing - Very similar to slick write. Good for checking grammar and spelling.
  • Story Toolz - Has a lot of options, but they are mostly for creative writing - however, it does have a Cliche Buster - get rid of these - it may not be able to do the whole five pages of your paper at one time, though
  • Analyze My Writing - has a lot of features that aren't wonderful, but it does do a check on how many times certain words are used - it could save you some points on repetition errors
  • Word Counter - another repetition checker

EXTRA CREDIT OPPORTUNITY: If you can get Paper Rater to give you an A on you full five pages, send it to me using teacehr code 34CCC. If you get an A-, I'll give you a double daily grade. If you get an A, I'll give you a double 100 quiz grade. If you get and A+, I'll give you a 100 test grade.

 

Get rid of the word "very." It is an overused word and you can do better than that. Here are some ways to avoid it:

Clean up your in-text

Go through your paper and get rid of unnecessary in-text. Do it this way:

  • Within paragraphs, if you have consecutive cites from the same source that do not have page numbers (i.e. web pages), eliminate all cites but the last one (only within paragraphs)
  • For consecutive cites that have the same page number, eliminate all but the last one (within paragraphs)
  • For consecutive cites that have different page numbers, eliminate all but the page number on all but the first one (this extends into other paragraphs)

Here is an example (swiped from wikipedia.org). All red and crossed out cites or words need to be eliminated.


The Loch Ness Monster, sometimes called Nessie or Ness (Smith 56), is a mysterious and unidentified animal or group of animals claimed by some to inhabit Loch Ness, a large deep freshwater loch near the city of Inverness in northern Scotland. Nessie is usually categorized as a type of lake monster (Smith 56). Its disputed "scientific" name, as chosen by the late Sir Peter Scott, is Nessiteras rhombopteryx (Smith 35). Although no evidence exists to suggest the alleged creature's gender, the nickname "Nessie" sounds feminine, so the creature is often referred to as female (Brown 37).


Along with Bigfoot and the Abominable Snowman, Nessie is one of the best-known mysteries of cryptozoology
(Brown 48). Most scientists and other experts find current evidence supporting Nessie unpersuasive, and regard the occasional reports of sightings as hoaxes or misidentification of mundane creatures or natural phenomena (“Creature…”). However, belief in the animal persists among many people around the world, with the most popular theory being that it is a plesiosaur (“Creature…”).


Some have argued a history of "monster" sightings in the loch provides circumstantial evidence supporting the creature's existence. Note that the validity and origins of these stories have been challenged, along with any "history" predating the early 1930s. There have been around 10,000 such sightings, a third of which were reported in one form of media or another (“Creature…”).

You can following these guidelines for cleaning up your in-text.

Check your sources

Go through your paper and put a checkmark on your Works Cited page beside every entry that has an in-text. This will prevent you from getting the penalty for a source in-texted that is not on the Works Cited page or having a source on the Works Cited page that is not in-texted in the paper.

 

Page numbering

You do not have to number your pages, but if you do, do NOT number the title page or the works cited page. If you wish to go the extra mile, number pages 2-5 only.

USE THE FINAL CHECK OFF LIST


Part VI - Submitting the Paper

 

What to Put in Your Envelope

  • Note Cards (all of them)
  • Source Cards (all of them)
  • Rubric
  • Final Copy (duh!)
  • Red Pen (optional)
  • M&Ms (well, not really, but it would be a nice gesture...)

 

 


The Signo 207 Uni Ball - A pen well worth the full 5 extra points

 

 

 

 


You won't believe that this is true, but the following is an actual e-mail from a former student who was in college at the time of this letter. This has no alterations to make me look good (I look good enough as is). So read this and then keep your handouts where you can get them.

Lord Alford!

Guess who it is??!! Your FAVORITE former student Adrian. I'd just like to take the time to thank you so much for giving us a research paper. I'd be lost already if I hadn't have used MLA and all that fun stuff.
My teacher tells us to research MLA in our handbook, but guess where I go to research MLA?????? That's right, Alford's guide to MLA Bliss is the best, just like the In-text ecstasy!!! I hope everything is going well for you, and tell your students I say that they are fortunate to have the best English teacher who gives a solid research paper assignment.

Talk to you soon

Adrian

Thanks Adrian!

 

 

 

 

 


 

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