ENGLISH 1302 Research Paper

ENGLISH 1302 Research Paper

Goals for This Paper: 

  • Write a research paper of at least 1300 - 1500 words, plus a works cited page.
  • Organize writing according to the principles of the standard, academic essay, utilizing strong communication skills and critical thinking.
  • Access and utilize library’s online databases and printed materials.
  • Gather research materials.
  • Utilize proper 8th edition MLA format documentation style

Choose A Topic and Form a Thesis: 

  • You are going to write an argumentative research paper (critical analysis essay) over the short story you chose for your character analysis.
  • After carefully reading the story (again), consider the various aspects of literature that we have discussed in class (plot, a character or characters, setting[s], figurative language, symbol[s], etc.) as they are applied in the story that you have chosen.  Finally, and most importantly, consider the story’s meaning or theme and how the various elements of literature that we have discussed serve to advance that meaning or theme.  All of this work should be conducted before you come up with a thesis for your essay!  Your thesis, then, should make a claim that some aspect of literary writing that we have discussed in this class has a specific impact on the meaning or theme of the story or poem about which you are writing. Note: see some example thesis statements posted on D2L.

Consider the Following Strategies for Conveying Theme:

  • Compare 2 characters in the work
  • Compare 2 works by the same author
  • Compare 2 works with similar themes by the same author or by different authors
  • Consider a work’s cultural context
  • Consider a work’s historical context
  • Explore a problem within the work and propose a possible solution to that problem

Steps in the Writing Process: 

  • Expand on your Fiction (character analysis) Essay; start looking ahead now and considering what stories (and characters) might be of interest to you.
  • You must conduct preliminary research into the story. This research can include essays, books, or other professional commentary by experts about the story’s meaning or theme, and/or about how the story employs the various aspects of literature that we have covered in this course. Basically, get an idea of what others are saying about the literature you’ve chosen to write about—think about how you can add your voice to the ongoing, academic conversation.
  • Once you’ve started your general research and decided on the direction you want your paper to go, begin more specific research. You may use print journals, online database articles, and, of course, the story or poem itself in the research process.  You may also use televised, videotaped, or DVD documentaries about the work or about the author.  As you write, incorporate the relevant views and opinions expressed in these sources into your essay using the guidelines expressed in your textbook.
  • Be sure to create proper MLA citations as you find sources you may consider useful for your paper (NOTE: You will submit a working works cited list before submitting your final draft of this paper). 
  • Consider creating an outline or “game plan” for your paper, beginning with your specific thesis statement (NOTE: You will have an outline and rough draft due before submitting the final draft of this paper).
  • As you write, incorporate the relevant views and opinions expressed in outside sources into your essay using the guidelines expressed in your textbook.
  • Avoid using inappropriate source material such as encyclopedia entries (including Wikipedia online), non-professional websites, Cliff’s Notes, Spark Notes (or any of the other “notes” sites online), online essay mills, anonymous web sources like Answers.com, book reviews, or book reports.  These sources tend to be unreliable or merely graze the surface issues of a given text.
  • Scholarly books and essays from academic web sites and journals are examples of appropriate sources. You MAY NOT use a website as a source. Use the library collections and online databases only unless you’ve received prior permission.
  • Your essay must incorporate quotes, paraphrases, and/or summaries of ideas from at least THREE sources, and these sources must be documented both in the text of your essay and on a works cited page.

Essay Requirements:

  1. The research paper will have a text of at least 1,300-1,500 words (appr. 5-6 pages); remember that direct quotations and in-text citations and the works cited page do not count toward the required word count.
  2. The research paper must be typed using a legible 12-pt font (Times New Roman, Georgia, Cambria, or Arial)
  3. The research paper must use the 8th edition MLA format of documentation
  4. The final Works Cited page will contain a minimum of three peer-reviewed articles and/or other scholarly resources. You will also need to include literature you are analyzing/studying on your works cited page (but the literature you are writing about cannot be part of your 3 required sources). So, you will have the literary text (or texts) you’re analyzing plus at least five additional sources. Each of the sources appearing on the Works Cited page must be used and properly cited at least once in the research paper.
  5. All 3 of your analytical sources should come from peer-reviewed scholarly journals obtained by using library databases or library print materials.
  6. All headings, formats, margins, and font size must be consistent with MLA format guidelines.


Your research paper is worth 20% of your grade.

Keep in mind personal responsibility and hold yourself accountable to adhering to the specific assignment requirements. The following are errors that will cost you letter grades off of your paper:

  1. Fewer than minimum number of sources
  2. Failure to include all sources in your essay with documentation
  3. Plagiarism, intentional or unintentional (you will receive a zero)
  4. Frequent major grammatical errors (run-ons, fragments, comma splices, etc)

Your essay itself will be graded on the following:

  • Flow of writing (How well do you maintain momentum and blend research in with your writing?)
  • Effectiveness of argument (What is your tone and use of research to defend your position?)
  • Research quality (How well have you used the research available to defend your position?)
  • Clarity of writing (How clear is your writing?  Will the audience understand you?)
  • Organization (How well do you organize your thoughts to sway your audience most effectively)
  • Awareness of purpose and audience (Does your writing reflect the style of a format literary critical essay?)
  • Awareness of purpose (Do you succeed in what you are trying to achieve?)


Your essay will also be graded on the following format/grammatical content:

  • Format of works cited page and parenthetical documentation
  • Format of essay/MLA guidelines followed/format of turning it in followed
  • Research background information done
  • Grammar/Mechanics
  • Peer editing

Late Work:

Late work will be penalized 10 points per calendar day, which does include Fridays and weekends.  For an essay not to be considered late, the submission (even via email if for some reason you’re having technical difficulties with D2L) must take place by the day AND time stated on the Course Calendar and above.   I will not accept research papers solely via e-mail; papers must be submitted to the proper D2L dropbox.   In case of last-minute emergencies, illnesses, or computer crashes, prepare in advance.  I suggest not waiting until the final moment to do this essay. 


Turning It In:

When turning in your essay, you must remember to submit via the D2L dropbox by the time designated on the Course Calendar. If your submission is late—no matter the reason—you will receive points off the assignment.



All students are responsible for constructing research papers based on their own ideas about the assigned topic.  The material of others will be incorporated into the papers to support students’ arguments, but the borrowed material must be scrupulously documented.  Plagiarism (the intentional---or unintentional---failure to give credit to another’s material) is a serious offense that warrants a zero for the entire paperSee school policy for academic integrity.  Any level of plagiarism (even one single sentence), whether intentional or not, warrants a zero being assigned and may result in a failing grade in the course.


Helpful Sources about Writing Literary Analysis Papers

“Writing a Literary Analysis”: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/697/01/

“What Makes a Good Literature Paper?”:    http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/618/1/

“Literature Topics and Research”:  http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/618/02/

“Literary Analysis”:  http://www.germanna.edu/tutor/handouts/english/literary_analysis.pdf

“Analyzing a Passage”:  http://www.goshen.edu/english/litanalysis-html/

“Writing Papers of Literary Analysis”:  http://unix.cc.wmich.edu/~cooneys/tchg/lit/adv/lit.papers.html

“Thesis Statements in Literary Analysis Papers”:  http://teacherweb.com/NY/PineBushHighSchool/MrsCasterlin/Thesis-statement-handout-.pdf

Literary Criticism in a Nutshell:  “Literary Criticism Assignment:  http://librarydoor.gfsd.org/bates/litcritassignment.htm

“Writing Assignments:  Introduction to Literary Study by Robin Brown”:  http://spanport.umn.edu/assets/pdf/LiteraryAssign.pdf

“Using Literary Quotations”:  http://writing.wisc.edu/Handbook/QuoLiterature.html