There are multiple ways to begin your paper. Here are a few of them.
- Immersion: begin immediately by telling us a compelling personal or otherwise anecdote, then follow up with your research question. Alternatively you could begin with a barrage of compelling/shocking facts about your topic.
- Very simply and plainly tell us what your paper plans to do. Student example: “In this paper I hope to not only clarify how sustainable foods can bring a stable economy and reduce the poverty level but also how it’s processed and comes about in the first place” (Boise 1).
- Somewhere in the first or second paragraph, be sure to state explicitly your research question and a list of all the major points your paper plans to tackle.
- This is where you state your claims and argue your position and/or inform us of the topic at hand. Each paragraph should center around one essential idea and these ideas should be supported by outside texts.
- Incorporating the personal: this can be done a couple of different ways. The first is by creating a kind of research narrator, as DFW does in “consider the lobster.” He presents us with information while alternatively sharing some of his own personal reflections. He brings you along in the research process. The other approach to incorporating the personal is to alternate paragraphs between research and personal stories/reflections/anecdotes. For example, one paragraph on the destruction of coral reefs, one paragraph on scuba diving with your Dad, back to research. If you choose this second approach be sure to think about precisely what the story is contributing to the overall effect of the paper – don’t ramble.
- PROPER CITATIONS: Absolutely any and all outside information needs to be credited to an outside source. There are various kinds of sourcing.
1. Quotations: taking a direct quote from a source. “Marijuana is not a drug” (Burroughs 200).
2. Paraphrasing: The narrator of Naked Lunch has suggested that marijuana ought not be classified as a “drug” given its relatively harmful effects compared to other illicit substances (Burroughs).
3. Quoting the authors name in the text itself: In Naked Lunch, William S. Burroughs makes the claim that marijuana is not a drug (200).
4. See Chapter 12 of the Curious Writer on “Using and Citing Sources” for more instruction here.
- Your conclusion shouldn’t just merely restate your introduction in different words. Why would you do that? I already read your introduction. What it should do instead is give me the grand total of your research experience. It should tell me your ultimate conclusions on what you’ve learned and we should all have grown richer from the experience.
- Be sure to use proper MLA formatting. (See powerpoint presentation included here, ((MLA powerpoint presentation)) Everyday Writer tab on proper MLA formatting, OWL at Purdue link on side under “stuff” for resources.
- Use the first person. Incorporate research with the personal.
- Make sure everything is properly cited / free of plagiarism, on purpose or accidental.
- The paper needs to be 2,000 to 3,000 words. (Around 8 pages?)
- Make sure the paper is clear, compelling, free of grammatical and mechanical errors, reads with clarity in mind.
For your conferences this week:
- Bring your research logs filled out with at least 3 sources.
- You can bring either a sketch or a detailed outline. Here are the particulars of each!
- The Sketch!
- The title should be the tentative focusing question you’ve chosen on your topic.
- The sketch itself should tell the story of your thinking about that question and topic from the beginning until now.
- This narrative of thought should discuss the ways in which your working knowledge of the topic has changed the way you think about it.
- The sketch should be about 500 words. (2 pages double spaced?)
- Information, ideas, or quotations you borrow from outside sources should be cited.
4. A detailed outline. I’m talking sentences, sources, roman numerals, letters, little letters, all that stuff.
5. Any other questions you have on the class, your blog, etc. Please bring any relevant materials and come to the conference with actual goals in mind. Let’s use the time wisely and efficiently, yes? Don’t make me do all the work.
6. Please note that the sketch or outline is not optional – you’ll be turning it in with your final paper on October 1st.
This paper is long and involved but I love you all very much and we will get through this thing together. The end.