Begin by reading this page, chapter 45, "Writing A Research Paper" (pp.1972-1990) in Literature; chapters 51-56 (pp.
374-490) in The Little, Brown Handbook, and the other noted sections of the texts in order to become familiar with the research project requirements.
Then select a short story from the "Research Selections List" at the bottom of this page.
Due to time and resource constraints, access to appropriate, academic sources for a particular story may be limited; please also select one or two alternates.
Assignment 1: Primary source (short story) selection.
Assignment 2: Annotated Bibliography. Download Sample
Assignment 3: Notes. Download Sample
Assignment 4: Thesis/Outline. Download Sample
Assignment 5: Initial Draft.
Assignment 6: Final Draft.
See Suggested Procedures below, and the individual Research Assignment pages for more information.
SUBJECT: A critical analysis proposing the theme of a selected
literary work and providing supporting evidence from secondary sources.
thesis must propose the theme of the selected short story. The body of the paper will discuss how various literary elements in the story
help to convey the theme.
SOURCES: A minimum of six, academically appropriate sources must be cited
in the final draft. MLA formatted bibliographical information for these
sources will be listed on a Works Cited page at the end of the final draft.
ONE of these six must be the primary source (i.e.: the short story being
researched). The secondary sources must include a variety of media
including; books, periodicals, and online databases. Do not rely on one
type exclusively. NOTE: The Annotated Bibliography must contain a minimum of
CITATIONS: Internal parenthetical documentation (MLA format). See Ch. 56 in The Little, Brown Handbook.
NOTES: Notes must include the name of the author of the work from
which the note was made, the number(s) of the page from which the note was made,
and the note itself. These notes may be arranged in the order of probable usage in the paper. A minimum of 30 note items are required.
See pp. 413-419 in The Little, Brown Handbook.
MANUSCRIPT: Both the initial and the final drafts must be MLA
formatted, and should
include the text of the paper (including
parenthetical citations) and the Works Cited page.
The text of the paper should be approximately 10 pages (8 pages minimum). See Ch.
56 in The Little, Brown Handbook.
NOTE: If you do not have Microsoft Word and must use another program, save your document as a
Rich Text Format (.rtf) file in order to be able open it in the campus computer
Select a short story to study and research. This is the primary
source. Consider not only which story is most enjoyable, but also
whether adequate, academically appropriate sources are available.
READ THE WORK SEVERAL TIMES. Read carefully and think critically.
Consider the following questions;
"What is the
theme of the work?"
"How does the author present this
theme through the use of various literary elements or devices in the work, such as characterization, setting, narrative point of
view, symbolism, structure, imagery, style of
writing (use of figurative language, sound devices, vocabulary, sentence
structure, etc.), and plot development
(conflict, climax, and resolution)?"
"How did the author's use of these
literary devices enhance the work?"
THE ANSWERS TO THESE QUESTIONS WILL
ULTIMATELY BECOME THE THESIS.
NOTE: Definitions for these and many other
terms may be found in the glossary of Literature.
Become familiar with the contents of both The Little, Brown Handbook. and Literature These texts contain a great deal of useful information covering nearly every aspect of the Research & Writing process as well as most of the relevant MLA format rules.
Once critical ideas have begun to develop, search for secondary sources (academically appropriate books, journal articles, etc) containing relevant facts, observations, opinions, interpretations, etc. to use in support of the thesis. These may be critical essays about the short story, an analysis of the author's works in general, a comparison of some literary aspect of works by several authors, etc. Find a minimum of 10 sources (books, journal articles, etc.) containing critical information about the selection. These sources will be included in the Annotated Bibliography.
Due to the fact that some of these sources will ultimately prove to be useless in supporting the thesis, initially gather as many secondary sources as possible to ensure that at least the minimum number of useable sources is obtained to support the assertions in the final draft of the research paper. During the source material search, bibliographic information from each secondary source should be recorded for easy reference when developing the Annotated Bibliography.
See the "MLA Hierarchy of Data in Works Cited Entries" page and Ch. 56 in The Little, Brown Handbook for instructions concerning
MLA Works Cited documentation style, and sample Works Cited pages. Both the Annotated Bibliography &
Works Cited pages must be formatted according to MLA guidelines.
Begin taking notes. See The Little, Brown Handbook pp. 413-419, for examples of
summary, paraphrase, and direct quotation note cards, the proper use of which is an excellent way to
efficiently record information during the research process. From the
secondary sources, note any information that pertains to the
literary elements or devices (listed above) found in the primary source.
point, the thesis should be solidifying. The information collected must be relevant to the topic and support the thesis.
Compose the thesis/working outline of the paper. The thesis may have
undergone some changes as the thoughts, opinions,
observations, etc. found in the secondary sources were researched; it should now
be finalized and polished. The thesis should clearly express the main idea
conveyed by the research paper. Using the notes, sketch out the bare bones of
the paper in
the form of an outline. See pp. 481-482 of The Little, Brown Handbook. Realize
that this outline will be revised as the research and writing
Complete the note taking. Make every effort to secure as many
sources as possible to support the thesis and underlying analysis of the
literary elements of the selection and their impact on the theme.
Polish and expand the outline using a sentence outline structure, which
may be found on p. 481 of The Little, Brown Handbook. The outline should have
at least three levels (I./A./1.). Remember: Avoid using an "A" unless a "B" is
also used. Avoid using a "1" unless a "2" is also used.
Write and revise the initial draft. Be sure that each paragraph
has a topic sentence. Also be sure to use transitions between major topics
of discussion in the body of the paper. Remember that the quotations--direct or
indirect--must be introduced. DO NOT simply drop them into the paper. See pp.
of The Little, Brown Handbook.
Think of your paper as a city street.
Clear topic sentences and smooth transitions between major topics will
ensure that your passenger (audience) has a comfortable ride. Reading a paper
lacking these necessities is like driving over speed-bumps, pot-holes, and
broken glass--difficult and uncomfortable.
Check the initial draft for grammatical and mechanical errors. Do not
assume that errors in content, grammar and mechanics, organization, and/or
formatting are acceptable. Please treat it as if it is a final draft; it will be
graded according to the same strict criteria. After making comments,
suggestions, etc., on the initial draft, it will be returned for final
After making revisions, prepare the final draft for submission.
For additional information, review Ch. 51-56 in The Little, Brown Handbook
and Ch. 41, 42, and 45, in Literature.
Primary Source selection--- participation credit
Annotated Bibliography (10 entries minimum)---10 points
Notes (30 items minimum)---10 points
Thesis/Outline (sentence format, approx. 6 pages)---10 points
Initial Draft---30 points*
Final Draft---40 points*
*NOTE: If you are satisfied with the grade on your initial draft and do not wish to revise it further, you may consider the research project complete; your grade will be applied to both the initial draft and final draft portions of the research project.
Research Selections List