English 1A RESEARCH ESSAY GUIDELINES
LENGTH: 5-7 pages plus Works Cited page in MLA style
This means a minimum of seven full pages of writing, double spaced with one-inch margins and no extra space between paragraphs. Use 12 font, and number the pages.
SOURCES: You should have at least five major sources on your Works Cited page—and that means sources actually cited in the paper. At least four of these should be written, published sources. In addition to authored sources, you may also use other types such as video, blogs social media etc. But you are required to do some serious reading on your topic.
INTRODUCTION: Find an interesting way to contextualize your subject. Make it clear and relevant to your audience. Some suggestions:
Start with an interesting, surprising fact.
Appeal to people’s own experience if it is relevant.
Appeal to their values and/or emotions: compassion, or concern for the future, e.g.
Start with an anecdote or news story that illustrates the issue in a compelling way.
BODY: Tell a story of cause and effect. Try for a balance between facts, statistics, and specific examples. Humanize your topic with real people and incidents; they make numbers and statistics more meaningful.
Every time you use information, examples, or ideas from a source, you must cite the source in the paper, even if you don’t quote it directly. If you’re just citing a fact, use parenthetical citation, which means just putting the author’s last name in parenthesis at the end of the sentence—and a page number if there is one. If you’re citing someone’s opinion, you should introduce them. If you want to establish credibility with a well-respected source, you might want to introduce it in the paper. When you mention someone’s name, you must explain who they are.
When to quote: when it’s someone’s opinion or first-person experience; when the author expresses an idea eloquently or vividly. Make sure quotes are relevant, and give them sufficient context. Leave out anything irrelevant, but don’t leave out essential information.
CONCLUSION: Discuss the significance of your topic and information, the implications for individuals, for society, for the future. Do not summarize or merely repeat what you’ve already said. If you’ve been discussing a problem or negative impact, it’s good to end on a positive note, like possible solutions, or hope for the future. If you’ve discussed a mostly positive change, discuss areas where we still need more progress.
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