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How to Write a Research Essay: Guidelines and Tips

Formulating Your Thesis and Outlining Your Argument

You have already selected a topic from the contemporary cultural scene and have compiled an Annotated Bibliography for your research project.  Your next step is to organize your research essay by formulating your thesis and outlining your argument.

Your thesis/argument (the view/idea/point you are trying to defend or prove) should be stated in the introductory paragraph(s) of your research essay.  Please review Lecture 8 notes on how to formulate a simple or extended thesis.  

The argument of your research essay should be well-supported – not with your personal observations and examples from your personal life but with the expertise and opinion of academic scholars, scientists, and professionals whose work you have researched.  

Try not to pad your essay with too many quotes.  If your quotes are too long, you need to select only those sections that provide essential information and insight.  Do not simply copy and paste a quote into the body of your essay but rather incorporate it naturally by introducing the author and his/her ideas and commenting on the quote with an eye to your argument.  

Your analysis must be thorough and engaging.  Avoid making grand and sweeping generalizations.  Be specific, and always support your claims with the evidence that you gathered from your research sources.  

Your conclusion is supposed to summarize your findings but is also expected to provide an overarching view of our contemporary cultural scene that strives to resolve the issues you present.

Read over your draft and make sure your topic is interesting and engaging, that your structure and organization of the essay are strong, and that you are persuasive enough to keep your readers interested.

Pay attention to your opening and transitional sentences. Does your essay flow smoothly from one paragraph to another?  Are the quotes incorporated nicely within the body of the argument?  Do all sentences express your thoughts clearly?  Is your vocabulary appropriate for a research essay?   

Edit and proofread for grammar and punctuation.

Provide a Works Cited/Reference page, in the APA style, that includes at least 2 academic sources.  Please note that the Works Cited page is separate from the Annotated Bibliography (10%) assignment where you were asked to annotate (summarize the content of) your sources.  Add the Works Cited page at the end of your Research Essay.

NB!  The Works Cited/Reference page is supposed to include/cite only the sources that you have used for writing your Research Essay; it may not necessarily cover all those sources that you had annotated in the Annotated Bibliography; it may include, though, new sources that do not need to be annotated.

A 3-rd person point of view, analytical tone, and appropriate style intended for an educated audience, are the best choices for an essay of this type.

Your essay will be evaluated on the basis of:

an engaging, well-researched topic

a clearly stated thesis and good organization

well-incorporated research (quotes)

persuasiveness

clarity of expression and correctness

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