ENGL 1121: College Writing and Critical Reading

ENGL 1121: College Writing and Critical Reading
Paper 4: Researched Essay Rev. 01/04/21
For this assignment, you will write a 6-8 page essay that presents a problem, issue, or question related to the theme below;
synthesizes information from research; and develops an argument about one specific idea, understanding, or action.
This semester’s theme: Human behavior
You can approach the given theme from the perspective of your planned studies or simply your own interests. The theme
works with all majors and areas of interest. Consider the range of possibilities. Many topics in the field of psychology
would fit. But topics in other disciplines work, too. For example, you examine the issue of violent attacks on nurses and
how emergency rooms could address this; you could propose ways to motivate people who are reluctant to work out; you
could study why people order things from infomercials; you could examine why people vote (or don’t); you could analyze
why the narrator in Raymond Carver’s short story “Cathedral” is so rude to his guest; you could research how creating art
or music affects mood and behavior. The list goes on…. As long as (1) your final, narrow topic has something to do with
human behavior, (2) you can make an argument about it, and (3) you can find credible sources about it, you can write
about whatever you choose.
No matter what you choose for a topic, consider that writing a research paper is not simply doing a “report” on a preexisting topic. It is not about simply presenting information or locating evidence to support a pre-existing opinion.
Instead, it is about asking questions, conducting research to answer those questions, and synthesizing information to
support your conclusions. In addition, there are different types of research papers; some define or redefine an issue or
problem, some classify information, some explain a process, some compare and contrast information, some illustrate or
demonstrate, and some aim to persuade an audience to do or think something. Research papers do something. You will
do something with yours. This paper must go beyond simply providing information. It must have an argument.
Once you choose a subject, you will narrow the scope of your topic to a specific feature, angle/position, or point of
interest. You’ll use relevant source material to support your stance, and you will create a piece of academic writing that
synthesizes the works of experts, incorporates their thoughts with your own, and establishes you as an expert.
Learning Objectives
After completing this assignment, you should be able to:
• Define an appropriate scope for a writing project
• Synthesize secondary research material, correctly quoting, paraphrasing, summarizing, and citing info
• Present your informed stance in a clearly stated thesis as part of a fully developed, persuasive argument
• Use a writing process to develop a piece of writing from initial idea to final, polished product
Minimum Requirements
 1,800-2,400 words
 4 credible sources
 A clear argument
 Correct MLA writing style and documentation (in-text and Works Cited citations)
Audience: Your audience is the general academic community: educated, informed, and curious, but not expert.
Project Parts Points Due Date
Proposal and preliminary bibliography 10
Source Reading Chart 50

Detailed outline and preliminary thesis 10
3-page draft 20

Revision plan 10
Final draft (submitted in hard copy and on D2L) 100

Total points: 200
Research Project Parts and Instructions

  1. Proposal, Research Question, and Preliminary Bibliography
    For this step, you will submit, in one document:
     2-3 substantial paragraphs describing the topic that you are proposing to research and write about (200-300
    words). You should include: background and explanation of the topic, an explanation of how it fits the theme (if
    necessary), why you want to write about it, why it’s important, what you already know about it, what you need to
    find out, what types of sources you might find, and what challenges you see in completing the project.
     a one-sentence research question that captures the specific problem or issue you will address
     a list of 8-10 sources that you might use in your paper. You do not need to read these sources to add them to this
    list, but you should have looked at them closely enough to determine their relevance. List these sources in full
    with all necessary bibliographic details, in correct MLA format (in essence, make a Works Cited page).
  2. Source Reading Chart
    As you review sources and begin to read those you might use in your paper, you will summarize and evaluate them in
    this step. Most of the work involved in this step is reading and note taking; the chart serves to keep you on track and
    record your assessment of the sources and how useful they will be for your paper. This chart is required and must be
    turned in before you begin drafting the paper.
  3. Detailed Outline and Preliminary Thesis
    For this step, you will submit, in one document:
     a preliminary thesis statement that answers your research question and expresses what idea, understanding, or
    action you will argue for, based on your research and thinking so far
     a detailed outline that maps out and organizes the information you expect to include in your paper. It should be as
    detailed as possible, reflecting what you have learned so far, how you see your research paper taking shape, where
    your sources fit in, and what additional subtopics or research you might add to fill in any gaps.
    After this point, you cannot change your research topic; your paper must be on this topic.
  4. First Draft
    Before you submit your final draft, you will complete at least one draft for peer and possibly instructor review. The
    draft should be three full pages of text, plus bibliographic entries (whatever you’ve completed so far of the Works
    Cited page). Your draft should represent a serious and thorough attempt at beginning and show that you understand
    how to correctly synthesize source material with your own ideas. An acceptable draft must have:
     3 full pages of text
     Source material incorporated and cited in the text as appropriate
     Works Cited (for the source material you’ve included so far in the draft)
  5. Revision Plan
    You will produce a one-page revision plan that lists what you plan to do to finish and perfect your paper, based on
    your own assessment and ideas, as well as the feedback you receive from your peers and professor. These things can
    be simply listed or described in paragraph form, if you wish.
    Your revision plan should include:
     3 major things you plan to do as you revise your research draft (things like improve thesis, reorganize sections,
    strengthen transitions, add source material, add counterargument, etc.)
     5 minor things you plan to do as you revise your research draft (things like fix the running header, check and
    correct problems like “its” vs. “it’s,” compose a new title, etc.)
     A 200-word paragraph of reflection: What have you done well, what were your major challenges, and what have
    you learned about writing in college and about yourself as a writer?
  6. Final Draft
    Use the class activities, materials, and weekly lessons on editing and proofreading, as well as the rubric on the next
    two pages, to complete and polish your final research paper.
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