Research Paper Handout

MLA/Sources  |  Content

MLA/SourcesGo To Top of Page

  1. MLA Format must be used correctly throughout the paper. If  you are unable to purchase either Diana Hacker’s A Writer’s Reference or MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers 5th Edition, you may refer to the following sites:
  2. Review your sources. Are they valid? Are the individuals referenced considered experts in their field? Give credit to these sources by giving them The Royal Treatment (According to John Smith, award winning scientist and author …) with the first reference. Use a combination of direct quotations, partial quotations and paraphrase in your body paragraphs (CD’s).
  3. Avoid Plagiarism. UCDavis Student Judicial Affairs publishes an article on-line -See or plagiarism.pdf in Adobe. Remember, you are using MLA format for this assignment.

ContentGo To Top of Page

Review the model (Slippery slope of ‘death with dignity’). It works. If you decide to include argument and concession in each paragraph, make sure that your Pro arguments are dominant. Consider using the following outline:
  1. Intro
    1. Hook or Attention Getter
    2. Background and/or definition of issue
    3. Thesis-Assertion-Position Statement
  2. Antithesis (Con)
    1. The key assertions of the opposition-do not go overboard
  3. Concessions and Rebuttals
    1. Offer concessions for arguments which can't be refuted. Use phrases such as "While it is true that..." "Admittedly..."
    2. Refute position and/or offer counterarguments. Use signal phrases such as "However..." and "Clearly..."
  4. Pro-Topic Sentence for 1st Argument supporting your assertion
    1. CD's
    2. Comm
  5. Pro-TS 2nd argument
    1. CD's
    2. Comm
  6. Pro-TS 3rd argument
    1. CD's
    2. Comm
  7. Pro-TS 4th argument
    1. CD's
    2. Comm
  8. Conclusion
Please note: Your concrete details will include quotations from valid sources followed by your commentary: analysis, personal observations, explanations of the evidence etc. You may have several pieces of evidence followed by five or six sentences of commentary. The bottom line is that the quotations need to be blended smoothly with your own writing and your analysis needs to demonstrate logic and reasoning. Each of the PRO paragraphs should cover one argument for your assertion. The number of PRO paragraphs will be dictated by the number of arguments you have to support your thesis. Consider also how you will build your case. Your final argument should be your most convincing, but this is not a steadfast rule.
  • Transition Words and Phrases-Use them. Your reader needs to be able to shift seamlessly from one paragraph to the next. Review the attached list.
  • Sentence Structure-Read each sentence out loud after you have typed your revision. Does it make sense? Did you avoid passive voice? Did you vary your sentence patterns? Did you use parallel structure where appropriate? Did you (the reader) avoid the dreaded generic you? Did you avoid announcing? (“This quotation shows…”, “I think…”, “I feel…”, “In my humble opinion…” etc.) When possible did you avoid am, is, was, were, be, being, been?
  • Logic-worth repeating. Did you avoid fallacies? (Red Herring, Either-Or Thinking. Faulty Cause and Effect etc.)
  • Signal Phrases-worth repeating. Avoid Dropped Quotations. Some teachers refer to them as orphan quotations-quotations without a home.
Final Note: This is a research based paper. You have gathered data from valid sources about a controversial issue. You have used this data to formulate your opinion on the controversial issue and to make an assertion (position statement, thesis). Now use the data to convince your readers to accept your position. Keep in mind that the opposition will also use some of the same data. It is the explanation, analysis, commentary about the data that will sell your assertion.