KEEP YOUR OPINION AT THE FRONT, NOT THOSE OF YOUR SOURCES.
A research paper is a paper that relies on outside documentation for information and support relating to your own opinions about a topic. The idea is to bring together ideas from a variety of sources in an effort to evaluate the evidence and express your own opinion of what the evidence says. Your sources will include primary materials (the texts and stories, for example) and secondary materials (essays and accounts written about the primary materials).
Your research should come from a variety of sources, depending upon your topic. Look for books, journal articles, magazine articles, etc., for your sources. Evaluate your sources as you find them by checking dates, origins, authors, etc. Be extremely careful when using internet resources. The most trustworthy internet sources will probably come from on-line journals, education sites (.edu), government sites (.gov) and on-line databases (FirstSearch, e.g.)
You may develop an I-Search paper. This is a paper where you develop a question which you desire to find an answer for. It is different from the standard research paper in that it involves documenting your search efforts as well as assumptions/previous knowledge.
The I-Search paper will be written in four integrated sections:
· What I know, Assume, or Imagine
· The Search
· What I Discovered
The introduction of your essay should give your reader some indication of why you have chosen to write about this particular topic. Keep in mind that your essay needs to have some point. What message do you want to communicate to your reader. The message needs to be something more than “I want to be a _____ when I grow up.” The purpose of this essay will be to inform your reader of your (1) original assumptions, (2) the information you found on your search, and (3) your discoveries.
What I Know, Assume, or Imagine:
Before conducting any formal research, write a section in which you explain to the reader what you think you know, what you assume, or what you imagine about your topic. There are no wrong answers here. You are basically establishing your hypothesis.
Test your knowledge, assumptions, or conjectures by researching your paper topic thoroughly. Consult first-hand sources such as people by conducting interviews, e.g. Also, consult useful second-hand sources such as books, magazines, newspapers, films, tapes, the Internet, etc. Be sure to record all the information you gather.
Write up your search in a narrative form, relating the steps of the discovery process (this means that you are going to tell the story of what you did to research this topic and what you learned in the process). Do not feel obligated to tell everything (you don’t have to tell us the boring stuff), but highlight the happenings and facts you uncovered that were crucial to your hunt and contributed to your understanding of the information. This is where you should be integrating your sources into your paper.
What I Discovered:
After concluding your search, compare what you thought you knew, assumed, or imagined with what you actually discovered, assess your overall learning experience, and offer some personal commentary about the value of your discoveries and/or draw some conclusions. Some questions that you might consider at this stage:
· How accurate were your original assumptions?
· What new information did you acquire?
· What did you learn that surprised you?
· Overall, what value did you derive from the process of searching and discovery?
Don’t just do a question/answer conclusion. Go back to the main point you want to make with this essay. What final message do you want to leave with your readers?
You will be required to attach a formal Works Cited page, following the MLA format, listing the sources you cited within your I-Search paper. You will need to use a minimum of four sources; it is highly recommended that you try to use a variety of sources such as interview, book, magazine, journal, or newspaper article, and Internet sources.
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