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Research Paper Requirements

Sample Research Paper Assignment


Dr. Ann Shapiro/Dr. Laurie Rozakis

Your research paper should be a reasoned argument of about 1,000 words in response to one of the questions on the topic sheet or in response to a question that you formulate after consultation with me.

You must use at least three sources.  Since your paper deals with contemporary issues, the Internet can be an excellent source for articles, but at least one of your sources should be a recent book.  All sources must be listed in the Works Cited, and parenthetical references should be used wherever you use a direct quote or refer to information found in an outside source.  Follow MLA style (Hacker, 122-141 or Connections 557-62).  Format should follow the sample research paper in Connections (569-74). Double-space.  Do not use folders. Staple upper left corner.  Place heading on upper left corner.

Check your spelling, punctuation, grammar and sentence structure. Revise and edit carefully.  When in doubt, check your handbook.

Your grade will be based on the persuasiveness of your argument, which will be reinforced by proper documentation of sources.  Therefore, you must be careful to understand and evaluate what you have read, and you must be accurate in your presentation of material. Use your research logically to support your thesis.  An anthology of other people’s words and ideas is plagiarism, not a research paper.           

The Research Paper:  Suggested Topics

The following suggested topics are related to issues discussed throughout the course.  You may choose one of these topics, or you may choose your own topic, which I must approve.

1.  Reread "The War on Alcohol" by Anna Quindlen (444-46), in which she argues that alcohol is an enormous threat and should probably be treated as a dangerous drug.  Do you agree that alcohol is a dangerous drug?  If so, why?  If not, why not, and what reasoned response can you make to Quindlen's main points?

2.  What are the most significant documented behavioral differences between men and women?  Do these differences suggest any reasons for treating boys and girls or men and women differently?  Support your conclusions with relevant evidence.

3.  Select an issue related to technology and ethics, such as cloning, various forms of surrogate parenting, prolonging life, or any other issue concerning ethics and technology that interests you, and explain with evidence why the practice should or should not be lawful.

4.  Affirmative action laws have been under fire.  Consider the arguments raised in recent legal cases and argue for or against retaining affirmative action laws.

5.  Some people believe that there is a national crisis in our schools.  Both federal and state governments have been seeking reform by introducing more standardized tests to raise standards.  Look at a few articles by leading educators in journals published by various graduate schools of education or other reputable sources.  Are standardized tests an effective way to improve student performance? Why or why not?

Using Source Material

  • Use reliable sources.  For example, if you want medical information, cite a doctor or other medical expert.  If you want legal information, cite legal decisions or a distinguished lawyer. A personal Web site is usually not a reliable source, since anyone can post a Web site. If a statement seems fishy, unreliable, or just plain weird, don’t use it.
  • Identify your sources in both parenthetical references and on your Works Cited page.
  • Always have a reason for quoting a source. Usually, you’re using the opinion of an expert to support a point. Otherwise, write the paper in your own words. Don’t quote information that is common knowledge, information that an educated person is expected to know.
  • Always make clear where the information from one text ends and information from a different text begins.
  • Information that is irrelevant to your thesis does not belong in your paper, even if it is accurate or interesting.


Danger, Will Robinson:  Your paper must reflect your complete understanding of the issues.  Copying information from sources, even if you change a few words, is not acceptable.

Research Paper Checklist  

____       My thesis answers my research question and is supported by relevant arguments.

____       I have followed the format of the sample research paper in Connections (557-620), using parenthetical references.

____       I have used quotes only when I need the authority of an expert. I identified the author of the quoted material. For example: Dr. Jane Doe, Chief of Oncology at Memorial     Hospital.

____       All my sources are reliable. I did not use source where I cannot identify the writer or the agency. 

____       I avoided plagiarism.  I did not copy from a text even if I used parenthetical reference.  The paper is my own words and ideas. When in doubt, I ran  my paper through a plagiarism checker.       

____       I ran a spell check and grammar check. 

____       I included a Works Cited page at the end of the paper. It contains at least three sources, of which should be a book.

____       I have stapled the paper in the upper left corner and placed the heading in upper right corner