Academic research essays are argumentative (thesis/claim-driven). They are the culmination of a reading and writing process that requires general reading and thinking about a topic, the narrowing of that topic to an engaging, researchable “issue question,” a review of scholarly and other applicable materials already dealing with that issue, and the formation of an argument that integrates that material with the researcher’s own findings and views.
Clearly, the conventions of research activity and reading change slightly with disciplines, but some standards apply across the board.
Source materials must be relevant and appropriate for academic discourse, and they must be carefully cited, integrated, and documented. These sources might include peer-reviewed articles, monographs, anthologies of academic essays, book-length studies, texts, specialized dictionaries, national newspapers, field-specific periodicals, and academic websites.
Research is presented objectively and responsibly, and in an academic voice and style that respect the conventions of academic discourse by using relevant terms, concepts, and evidence appropriately, and developing claims logically and articulately.
Unstated assumptions are minimized by careful revision and elaboration where necessary, and arguments are logically consistent and focused. Both specialists and academicians in general should be able to read and understand the argument without too much difficulty.
Generally, research essays comprise 60-70% original material and 30-40% “borrowed” material. The argument should be situated in the context of a larger issue or subject area, and it should make a substantial contribution to thinking about the issue it engages.
Your paper will, of course, meet all of these expectations—and then some!
As an extension of the work you’ve already done, I expect that you will take up one of the issues you develop in the State of Knowledge/Point of Entry assignment. That claim becomes the heart of the research paper—its organizing/controlling statement—and will shape its structure and determine its content.
Per item 4 above, the bulk of the argument will consist of your own contributions—reasoning and the presentation, interpretation, analysis, application, and linking of relevant evidence—but also the evidence itself, which should consist primarily of scholarly material, but may include other relevant and appropriate materials as well.
Feel free to use source materials you’ve already gathered if they apply, but you should expand your source material now that you have narrowed the issue. See the note about sources in the next section.
Format (MLA or APA):
7-8 pages (1750-2000 words),
TNR 12 pt. font,
separate “Works Cited” (MLA) or “References” (APA) page,
no title page.
Sources: minimum of five, at least three of which must be peer-reviewed academic articles or borrowed from scholarly books published by reputable publishing houses. No Wikipedia or the like!
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