The Research-Based PaperWhat is a Research Paper? Students are often asked to write papers based on the work of othersrather than just their own experience. These papers require the use of primaryand/or secondary research. According to the fifth edition of MLA Handbook for Writers of ResearchPapers, “Primary research is the study of a subject through firsthand observationand investigation, such as analyzing a literary or historical text, a film, or aperformance; conducting a survey or an interview; or carrying out a laboratoryexperiment. Primary sources include statistical data, historical documents, andworks of literature or art. Secondary research is the examination of studies thatother researchers have made of a subject. Examples of secondary sources arebooks and articles about political issues, historical events, scientific debates, orliterary works (2).” To avoid plagiarism, primary and/or secondary researchrequires parenthetical documentation and a “Works Cited” page. Any topic of interest can be used for a research-based paper. However, thenarrowed topic must meet three criteria: 1. The paper must deal with a significant issue. 2. The audience must gain more knowledge/insight from the information provided. The regurgitation of already known information is not sufficient. 3. Research papers analyze an issue, defend a position, or explain some complexity. Many research papers will accomplish all three purposes.How do I start? The steps to begin a research paper are similar to those of any other paper. 1. Make sure the criteria for the assignment is clear. 2. Choose a suitable subject if the option is available. Then narrow the subject to a topic. 3. Read about the topic. Become familiar with it.
4. Develop a preliminary outline or a series of research questions that reflects what needs to be discovered about the topic. It can be revised at any time during the process. 5. Begin to take notes. Use of index cards (4x6) or notesheets is recommended. See the Appendix for formats. 6. Write a first draft. Evaluate the information. Is the research complete? Remember to use peer editors. 7. Revise the first draft. Make any necessary changes based on the evaluation of the first draft. Begin addressing the issues of style and mechanics. 8. Write a second draft. Pay close attention to the parts of the paper. Is the introduction clear? Is the body well developed with sufficient supporting evidence? Have authorities been introduced properly in the text? Has appropriate documentation been provided? Is the tense appropriate and consistent? Is the voice clear? Does the conclusion follow from the body? Does it provide the reader with a sense of closure? 9. Organize the other parts of the paper. Pay special attention to the format requirements. 10. Prepare the final copy. Proofread. Format Requirements for Research Papers These requirements are based on the MLA format (Lester, Writing ResearchPapers, 7th ed.). Unless otherwise indicated by the teacher, this format may beused for research-based papers.1. ORGANIZATION: a. title page b. outline (per instruction of teacher) c. abstract (per instruction of teacher) d. text (including parenthetical documentation) e. content notes (per instruction of teacher)
f. appendix (per instruction of teacher) g. “Works Cited” page2. PAPER: Use standard printer paper.3. OUTLINE (optional): a. title b. thesis c. phrase/ sentence4. TITLE PAGE*: a. Two inch margins should be provided on all sides. b. The entire page is centered. c. Information is divided into three parts: title, student’s name, and course information (course & teacher’s name) and date. Space these parts evenly down the page. d. Use an inverted pyramid if the title requires more than one line. e. Use capital and lowercase letters appropriately. Underlining (or italics) and quotation marks should be used only to indicate titles within the title. Do not underline the title or use a colon (:) after by. Do not use a period at the end of the title. f. See sample in “Appendix.”*If no title page is required, the following heading may be used on the first page ofthe text. On the left-hand side one inch from the top provide the student’s name,the title of the course, and the date. This should be double-spaced.5. TEXT: a. Title: Repeat the title on the first page. b. Spacing: Use double spacing for the entire text including the “Works Cited” page. c. Margins: A basic one-inch margin should be used on all sides. d. Pagination: Number the pages consecutively throughout the text in Arabic numerals typed in the upper right-hand corner. Include your name as well as the page number. They should be placed one-half inch down from the edge of the paper. The “Works Cited” page is numbered consecutively with the text.
e. Corrections: An error free paper is the goal. Computers have made the editing process simple. Complete the revisions and submit the corrected printed copy. f. Documentation: Appropriate parenthetical documentation of cited sources should be provided. All data whether quoted or paraphrased must be properly introduced and documented at the end. g. Thesis: Usually, the thesis should be clearly apparent within the first paragraph of the paper. h. Introduction and Conclusion: Use quotations sparingly in these two parts of the paper. Use original thoughts and words. i. Short Quotations: Be certain to introduce them smoothly. While frequent quoting from primary sources is expected, over quoting from secondary sources should be avoided. j. Length: See teacher. k. Revising and Proofreading: See “The Process of Writing,” sections 8 and 9.6. WORKS CITED: this page is double spaced just like the text. Center and typethe title of the page. Hit return once and begin entries. Type first lines flushwith the margin. Subsequent lines of the entry are indented five (5) spaces.Entries are organized alphabetically. See sample in “Appendix.”