How to Write a Research Paper

Classical Structure
English 1302
Structure (overall)
 Introduction and claim (thesis)
 Writer’s position (evidence from research)
 Summary of opposing views
 Response to opposing views
 Conclusion/call to action
 It is OK to give the opposing viewpoint FIRST and then
respond to it; after this, you would move into proving
why your opinion is RIGHT
 Attention grabber—a memorable scene or anecdote
 Explanation of the issue
 Give enough background info to help audience
understand the problem
 Thesis statement
 Your introduction can be long if need be—one to
several paragraphs
Presentation of Writer’s position
 Main body of essay
 Presents and supports each reason in turn
 This is where you present your research
 Each reason should be tied to a value or belief held by
the audience
Summary of Opposing Views
 Summary of views differing from your own
 Make sure the summary is fair and complete
Respond to Opposing Views
 Refute—prove to be false or erroneous; to prove to be
in error
 Show weaknesses in the opposing argument
 Concede—to acknowledge something to be true, just,
or proper
 You can say that the opposition’s argument contains
some valid points
 Bring essay to a close
 Sum up the argument
 Explain the significance of your stance on the issue—
why is this important? What have you learned from
this research? What are the implications if action is
not taken?
 Call to action
How to Write a Thesis Statement
 What is the answer to your research question?
 Ex. Should killer whales be kept in captivity?
 Why? What are the top reasons for the answer to your
 Deprives the whales of their role in nature
 Causes emotional problems that make them
unpredictable and violent
 It’s cruel
Sample Thesis Statement
 The practice of keeping killer whales in captivity should
be stopped because it deprives them of their role as top
predator, it causes severe emotional problems that lead
to violence, and it is simply a cruel practice.
Skeleton Outline
 Take a moment to make a quick outline for your paper.
 Thesis statement, then the three main points from
your research will be your main topics in your paper
In our practice thesis statement, our main points will
Deprives the whales of their place in the ecosystem
Emotional problems that lead to unpredictability and
It’s a cruel practice
Arranging your Notecards
 In easybib, write your thesis statement in the space
 Then, drag and drop your notes in the order you will
use them in your paper
 If you are using actual notecards, then arrange them in
the order you wish to use them and make a stack
Writing Your Paper
 Begin writing your paper
 Write an introduction and make your thesis statement
the last sentence of your introduction
Topic Sentences
 You need to have a strong topic sentence to introduce
your main points
 Refer to your thesis statement/outline
 Ex. One of the main reasons that the practice of
keeping killer whales in captivity should be
discontinued is that it deprives the whales of their place
as top predator in the ecosystem.
Proving Your Points
 Use your notecards to prove the main points in your
How to Cite
 Always use author’s last name and page number (if using a
 Ex. The climber recalls problems he encountered when
attempting to climb Devil’s Thumb, including “a ribbon of
frozen meltwater had ended three-hundred feet up and
was followed by a crumbly armor of frost feathers”
(Krakauer 143).
 Anything you paraphrase must also be cited. If you are not
sure if you need to cite it, then cite it.
 You have to cite anytime you have a new topic or a different
idea, even if it is by the same author. If this occurs, then
just cite the page number, not the author’s name.
Citing From Data Bases
 If there are no page numbers, then just use the
author’s last name.
 (Krakauer)
 If there is no author, then use the first work in the
 Ex: if your title is “Effects of Mercury in Fish,” then you
would use (“Effects”) as your citation
Block Quotes
 If you have a direct quote in your paper that is longer
than 4 typed lines, you must block quote it.
 You hit enter to begin the quote on a brand new line,
and then you indent on that line 10 spaces. Hit the tab
key two times to achieve this. Then you type to the end
of the line, then hit tab two more times for each new
 At the end of the quote you put a period, then you cite
the author’s last name and page number in ( ) with no
period at the end. Ex. “This is the end of my blocked
quote by an amazing author.” (Krakauer 82)
 Each notecard should be one citation in your paper.
Introducing Standard Views
 Use these to introduce broad ideas about your topic
 Conventional wisdom has it that ______________.
 Americans today tend to believe that ___________.
 Many people assume that _____________________.
 It is often said that ____________________.
Introducing an Ongoing Debate
 In discussions of ____________ (topic), one
controversial issue has been ____________. On the one
hand, _______________ argues ____________. On the
other hand, ___________ contends _____________.
Others even maintain ____________________.
However, the most reasonable way to look at this is
Another ongoing debate template
 When it comes to the topic of ______________, most
people readily agree that ______________. Where this
agreement usually ends, however, in on the question of
_____________________. Whereas some are convinced
that ______________________, others maintain
Capturing an author’s opinion
 X acknowledges that _____________________.
 X agrees that __________________.
 X argues that __________________.
 X denies that __________________.
Introducing Quotations
 X states , “____________.”
 X agrees when she writes, “_______________.”
Disagreeing, with Reasons
 X’s argument is weak due to the fact that he overlooks
 X contradicts herself with ____________________.
 By focusing on __________________, X overlooks the
deeper problem of ______________.
Making concessions while still
standing your ground
 Proponents of X are right to argue that
_____________. But they exaggerate when they claim
that __________.
 While it is true that __________________, it does not
necessarily follow that _________________.