For the research essay, you’ll exploring a topic of your choice. Work to focus your topic on an intriguing questiona question that genuinely arouses your curiosity and cannot be answered easily. If it helps, think about areas of controversy or disagreementsubjects about which people disagree. Avoid writing an all about paper: an essay that tells us all about a given topic but lacks a sharp focus. If I say Im going to write about Bob Dylan, for example, Im starting down the all about road. However, if I say I want to explore why Dylan chose to leave folk music behind and go electric, then Im on to something.
Your paper must use a minimum of four outside sources, at least two of which be must authored, peer-reviewed, scholarly articles or books. You will want to use your sources in a substantial way, not just briefly refer to a quote or an idea here or there. Work to create a complex, compelling conversation of ideas. A strong research paper shows a sense of engagement—a sense that the writer has taken in and fully considered different views and struggled to arrive at his or her own opinion on the issue.
Your essay must use the MLA method of in-text citation, including a Works Cited page.
The minimum length is five (5) full, double-spaced pages (not counting the Works Cited page).
Choosing a topic: The first step is the most important: Be sure to choose a topic that truly interests you, one that youll enjoy exploring. If you can come up with something that compels you, youll make the entire process all the more meaningful and rewarding. A useful test of a good subject is that youre able to find ample sources to us. Also, choose a topic that you’re genuinely curious aboutnot one on which you’ve already made up your mind (in that case, you wont be writing to learn, but simply to “prove” the position you already hold).
Keeping Your Audience and Purpose in Mind: Assume that your audience knows very little about your subject, and that you need to bring the issue into focus for them by providing sufficient background.