ESL 094 Research Paper

This unit will take us approximately 4 weeks. We will have a number of steps to complete before you sit down to write your final research papers.

Unit Plan

Choosing Your Topic
  • Read pp 255-261. Pay special attention to the checklist on pp 260 and 261.

We have already done some reading and research about possible topics for your research papers. Now is the time to choose one broad topic and begin the research. You may choose any of the research topics listed on pp 101 and 146 as a starting point. All of these topics will be too broad to address in a 5-7 page research paper, so start looking for aspects of the topics that interest you.

  • Look up your topic in Wikipedia or another online encyclopedia. After you read about the topic, what questions do you have about it? What would you like to learn about the topic that you do not know already? Post your questions to your blog.
  • Read the blog posts of your classmates. Comment on the posts of at least 5, giving them feedback on which questions seem interesting enough, big enough and small enough to write about. Basically, you will be helping them narrow their list of questions down to 2 or 3.
  • After thinking and reading your classmates' comments, choose one question that you want to research and answer in your paper. Post that question to your blog.
Continuing Your Research
  • Look online using Sweet Search to find online resources related to your research. Post an annotated bibliography to your blog. This list must include at least five sources that are directly related to the research question you have chosen.
  • Using the periodic databases, find articles related to your research question. Post an annotated bibliography that includes at least five journal or other periodic resources directly related to your research question.
  • Read the articles you have chosen to include in your annotated bibliographies.
Writing Your Thesis Statement

Your thesis statement is basically the answer to your research question. If my research question is, for example, "What real influence did Poor Richard's Almanac have?", my thesis statement might be something like "Poor Richard's Almanac influenced life in the colony of Pennsylvania as well as life in many parts of Europe." This is not a very complete thesis statement, but it is what we call a "working thesis statement" - it tells the direction I think my paper will take.

  • Develop a working thesis statement that you will be able to develop using the sources listed in your two annotated bibliographies. Post both your research question and your working thesis statement to your blog.
  • Read the blog posts of your classmates. Comment on the posts of at least 5, giving them feedback on 1) whether or not the question seems to be answered by the thesis statement and 2) whether or not the sources listed in the annotated bibliographies seem to address the question and the thesis statement.
  • After thinking and reading your classmates' comments, make another blog post in which you include the research question, working thesis statement and sources from your annotated bibliography that seem to provide information that addresses your thesis. If you do not have at least 5 sources that do, look for more sources and add them to the list here.
Writing an Outline

An outline is a good way to make sure your paper moves in the direction you want it to. We will talk about outlines in class, so this should not be a difficult task. Look at pp 221 & 222 for some basic information and examples. Note that these outlines are for a paragraph and an essay, not for a research paper. An outline for a research paper might be longer and possibly more involved. Look at the example on p 276 for an idea.

  • Make a blog post in which you post a rough outline of your paper. Be sure to include your research question and your thesis statement, too.
  • Read the blog posts of your classmates. Comment on the posts of at least 5, talking about how well their outline matches their research question. Offer suggestions for improving either the thesis statement or the outline or both.
Writing the Body of Your Research Paper
  • Choose one point from your outline and begin to write the paragraph it represents. Be sure to integrate evidence from one or more of your sources. When you have completed this, post it to your blog.
  • Read the blog posts of your classmates. Comment on at least 5 of them, offering suggestions on how to improve the paragraph. Look back at pp 217-219 and p 222 for a discussion of what a good paragraph should look like.
  • Use your classmates' comments to improve the paragraph you posted to the blog and to work on the other body paragraphs. Keep writing until you have completed all the body paragraphs. You DO NOT have to upload any of these to your blog.
Revising the Body Paragraphs
  • Print out your body paragraphs and bring them to class.
  • Trade papers with a classmate. Using the peer feedback guidelines found on the | class blog, give your partner feedback on his/her body paragraphs.
  • Discuss your comments with the author of the paper. Make sure he/she understands what you are trying to say.
  • Make changes to your body paragraphs, incorporating as much or as little of the feedback you got as you want. Remember, it is YOUR paper. Don't change things unless you think they need changing.
  • Send me your body paragraphs as an email attachment. I will look at them, make comments and suggestions, and send them back to you.
Writing an Introduction

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