Writing a paper using research
C h a p t e r 14 Writing a Paper Using Research Although the words research paper have been known to produce anxiety worse than that caused by the sound of a dentist’s drill, you should try to relax. A research paper is similar to the kinds of expository and argumentative essays described in the earlier parts of this book, the difference being the use of documented source material to support, illustrate, or explain your ideas. Research papers still call for thesis statements, logical sequences of paragraphs, welldeveloped supporting evidence, smooth conclusions—or in other words, all the skills you’ve been practicing throughout this book. By citing sources in your essays or reports, you merely show your readers that you have investigated your ideas and found support for them. In addition, using sources affords your readers the opportunity to look into your subject further if they so desire, consulting your references for additional information. The process described in the next few pages should help you write a paper using research that is carefully and effectively documented. This chapter also contains sample documentation forms for a variety of research sources and a sample student essay using MLA style. FOCUSING YOUR TOPIC In some cases, you will be assigned your topic, and you will be able to begin your research right away. In other cases, however, you may be encouraged to select your own subject, or you may be given a general subject (“health-care reform,” “recycling,” “U.S. immigration policies”) that you must narrow and then focus into a specific, manageable topic. If the topic is your choice, you need to do some preliminary thinking about what interests you; as in any assignment, you should make the essay a learning experience from which both you and your readers will profit. Therefore, you may want to brainstorm for a while on your general subject before you go to the library, asking yourself questions about what you already know and don’t know. Some of the...