Semester MLA Research Project

As you move through the course of the term, you should learn what it means to write a proper academic essay and to target a particular audience. While you are gradually learning these skills through assigned readings and shorter essay assignments and reading opportunities, you should be researching material which you will eventually organize into a scholarly academic essay and submit for a grade by the fifth week of this course. Begin your research the first day of the class as your schedule will allow.

Topic and Instructions. You must write an argumentative essay on a controversial topic which offers a global perspective. (A list of topics to choose from can be seen at the bottom or this module, but you are not limited to only these topics.) If you have any question about whether or not your topic is acceptable, simply ask me in an e-mail.

Remember that the topic should be manageable and a worthy contribution. In other words, do not waste your time writing an argument which few in society would deem necessary to prove. For example, most reasonable people agree that smoking is not healthy behavior. Therefore, writing a paper which simply proves the harmful effects of smoking is of little contribution to anyone. Make your research and words about it matter.

Write a paper which offers an approach to a controversial topic. For instance, if you want to write a paper about nuclear energy, you could specifically cite its benefits over that of other energy sources or ways we as a society might control for the negatives associated with this energy form. In a short paper such as this research assignment, you might find that answering both of these questions would offer you little opportunity to delve into the heart of either question very much at all. You would end up probably treating the subject superficially at best. Do not do this. Instead, hone down your topic to a manageable one which will inform your audience on the subject in a fresh and meaningful way.

Possible Topic Choices. The following topics offer the opportunity for controversial slants and have been investigated successfully by many students before you:

*marijuana legalization

*capital punishment

*job outsourcing

*stem cell research

*climate change

*distribution of world resources

A more exhaustive list may be found through a link on the home page of the Opposing Viewpoints In Context database on the far bottom right side under "Browse All 466 Issues."


*The paper should be approximately 1,000 to 1,200 words.

  • The essay should have a title, header, one-inch margins, and a type which is double-spaced.
  • All parts of the essay--whether title, header, essay text, or source page--should be 12 point and typed in a serious font style like that of this handout. (Calibri is the font used here.) Most word-processing programs usually default to such a font style if the settings of the program have not been changed.

*All MLA documentation should be properly done throughout the text of the essay's body as well as on the source page itself. (For help, see the handout provided entitled "General Principles, Concepts to Remember, and Helpful Aids For the Proper Documentation of Researched Materials" under Module #5 of the "Content" section of the black navigation bar.)

  • There should be a thesis statement at the end of the first paragraph which addresses the assignment prompt above and also introduces the talking points of support you will be addressing in the body of the paper.
  • There should be paragraphs of support that center around talking points introduced in the thesis statement.
  • Each body paragraph should have a clearly focused topic sentence at the beginning of it, and all parts of the paragraph should support this topic sentence with unity and coherence.
  • Each body paragraph should center on and coherently address the topic sentence which introduces it.
  • Topic sentences of body paragraphs should do one of the following: 1) directly support your thesis statement while referencing the substance of the paragraph it introduces, or 2) transition from a previous paragraph of thesis support as a kind of sub-part to a previously clearly focused paragraph of thesis support.

*The paper should contain four academically appropriate sources, and two of these four must be scholarly or peer-reviewed articles from academic, peer-reviewed journals. (Reference sources cannot be used as one of the minimum number of sources, and only one book, whether electronic or print, may be used.) The paper may contain as many as sox appropriate sources but should not exceed six.

*The paper's topic must be controversial in nature and globally significant (although the student may not present the topic's controversy as the subject of the assignment. See the next requirement below this one). In other words, there should be both a pro and con on the subject to be discussed, and someone in China should be as equally invested in the topic as someone in the United States.

*The paper must make a stand on the topic, and this argumentative stance should be apparent by the end of the introduction of the paper. Presentation of the topic's controversy will not suffice as argument.

*There should be an introduction, body, and conclusion in the essay, and these parts should be written according to the conventions of a properly formatted academic essay.

*The paper must be typed and double spaced.

*The paper must provide an appropriate title and header according to MLA manual style.

*A source page must be attached that does not overlap with the word-count of the assignment, and this source page must adhere to MLA guidelines and perform its function adequately.

*The paper should adhere to all conventions of proper grammar, punctuation, spelling, word-form, word usage, and documentation.