- Step 1: After selecting the topic from the approved list, develop a thesis statement. A strong thesis statement is arguable, a statement that will be supported by reliable sources. The thesis statement is only one sentence in the introductory paragraph, and it must be specific to the issue being discussed.The thesis is often the answer to a why or how question, or it may be a cause-and-effect statement. If the thesis is too narrow, the paper will have nothing to discuss. If it is too broad or general, the thesis may be difficult to argue for.
The topics listed are given to help you develop a thesis statement. Be sure you have chosen a topic that is interesting and relevant. Build on one of the topic ideas by asking why or how questions about the topic. Then create a thesis that answers your question. The paper will argue that your answer (the thesis) is correct.Discuss the thesis idea with an adult or trusted friend. Together determine whether the thesis is arguable (you will provide an analysis that supports and develops personal opinions rather than report ON something). Decide whether the thesis is broad enough for an entire paper and narrow enough to prove an overall point.
- Step 2: Locate secondary sources. Use at least five secondary sources. The topic selections have plenty of strong source material, so do not use essay sites like “123helpme” or “answers.com” as sources. Do not use Sparknotes or other study sites as sources, and do not use Wikipedia. Instead, look for strong critical and/or informational articles. Locate sources in any library’s reference section. Ask a librarian to help locate this type of research. Some libraries have access to online resources that may have articles about the topic. Search the Internet for sources as well, but be careful about the material selected. Keep a list of the sources and corresponding quotes. Be sure that the quotes chosen are applicable to the thesis. This list of quotes will be needed for the outline.Create Works Cited entries in Modern Language Association (MLA) style for each source used. In Unit Seven, you will submit a final Works Cited page including only the sources that are actually cited in the paper. Information about the MLA styles can be found by searching the Internet for MLA form or using a university website such as Purdue’s OWL to be sure your information is accurate. A good example can be found in the Writing Handbook on Page R43 in the textbook, or check out a copy of the MLA Handbook from a library. Additionally, look under “Resources” in Unit 9 of this course for MLA guides that you can download and print.
- Step 3: You may have written writing plans as webs or maps in the past, and you can begin developing your ideas that way. However, a formal outline will need to be submitted.The outline is the plan for the paper just as a blueprint is the plan for a building to be built. Without structure, the paper will fall apart. Once the thesis statement is developed, you’ll need to create topic sentences for each supporting paragraph. A minimum of three supporting (body) paragraphs will be needed in addition to the introduction and conclusion. Next, decide which examples and quotes to use in each paragraph. Any paraphrases and quotes will need to be cited for in-text citation in the outline. After a comment or paraphrased/direct quote, list the author and page number to which you referred. Example: (Bloom, 67)
See Page R39 in the Writing Handbook section of the textbook for an example of an outline. Also refer to the outlining guide under “Resources” section in Unit 9 of this course. When the outline is finished, the paper is practically written!
- Step 4: Carefully spellcheck, edit and save the document, then submit the research proposal by uploading the thesis statement, outline, and Works Cited page.
Once the research proposal is submitted, begin work assembling the rough draft of your paper. When you think you have enough information to give you a firm understanding of the topic, start writing. If you find additional information to support the thesis as you go along, it can always be added at the revision stage. Follow the three steps below, and refer to your textbook on pages 474-481.
Planning the Rough Draft
Unit Five, Step 1 – Cause and Effect
As the topic is researched and background information gathered, focus on explaining how certain events, policies or actions are causing the main issue. Ask these questions:
- What are the events, policies or actions that have caused the main issue?
- Is there someone/something responsible for these events, policies, or actions?
- Where and when did this event, policy or action occur? Is it ongoing?
- What are the effects of these main events on the main issue?
Continue to take notes, list sources and begin writing a rough draft. Use your instructor’s feedback from your research proposal to revise the thesis and focus if needed.
Unit Five, Step 2 – Focus on Solutions
Once enough credible information detailing and supporting the proposed solution is collected, the body of the paper should focus on explaining how the solution would solve the main issue. Consider the following questions:
- Who came up with this solution?
- How and when could the solution be implemented to resolve the issue?
- What evidence is seen that this solution will, in fact, work?
- What would need to happen in order to put this solution into place?
- What are the cons about this proposed solution? Would it solve all the problems associated with the issue or just the major ones? What could be done to alleviate the smaller problems associated with the issue? Would anyone be hurt if the solution was put into place?