Level 8

LEVEL EIGHT: MLA Research Paper


  • To produce new knowledge through an analysis of a topic.
  • The Research Paper is a larger and longer version of the mini-research paper structure.


Parts of the Paper

  • Introduction
    • This paragraph is written last
    • A one paragraph summary (usually half a page long) of the entire paper.
    • Includes a Thesis statement: A position using a theory or model to investigate a topic.
    • Thesis statements must be one sentence.
    • Summarize the scope in a few sentences.
    • Summarize the Lit Review in a sentence. Ex: Many people are discussing blah-blah from websites to journals.
    • Summarize the theory in a few sentences.
    • Give one sentence summary per each analysis paragraph. (so that's another 4 or more sentences)
  • Scope of research

  • (One to three paragraphs)
    • This section of your research paper may range over a few paragraphs and discusses two parts of your scope:
      1. The overall scope of your entire subject (so you can show-off that you know how big the subject is)
      2. A more focused part or paragraph to show you can focus on a more significant and exacting part.
    • Do not discuss the theory in the scope
    • Do not use any quotes in this part. Scopes should contain only common knowledge. Common knowledge is not common to people but common to the sources that concern a subject.
    • Even though most people do not know Abe Lincoln's mother's first name, her name IS common knowledge because most biographies on his life would include that information.
  • Literature Review
    (One to two paragraphs)
    • This section discusses various credible and pertinent sources concerning your topic.
    • Discuss at least five sources
    • do NOT quote and information in this section
    • Give pertinent citation information (such as authors' names, article titles, journal names) and summarize the sources.
    • This section is already written in your tracking sheets; you just need to put them together into one to two paragraphs.
  • Model or Theory
    (One to two paragraphs)
    • This one paragraph explains the model or theory you will use.
    • Every field of study uses many models and many theories, and this paragraph
      helps the reader understand the one you are using.
    • You must cite sources (at least one) in order to "define" your theory or model in this paragraph.
    • Do not discuss the scope in the theory
  • Analysis
    (at least Two full PAGES)
    • Minimum of 2 full pages of analysis needed for this assignment.
    • The true aim of the analysis section is to use your subject (scope) to help your reader better understand your theory
    • Every paragraph must relate the information of your subject to the theory used.
    • Begin every paragraph with a direct reference to how the subject and theory go together.
  • Conclusion
  • (one paragraph)
    • This paragraph is NOT a warm fuzzy wrap up.
    • This last paragraph discusses other possible theories you could have used.
    • The aim of this paragraph is to give others possible research thesis statements.

The Order of Writing the Research Paper

  1. Write out a scope (a few paragraphs) to better understand the grandeur of the subject.
    • Learn about a subject and list how massive the subject is.
    • In most papers, you will need a scope, so you might as well do it first.
  2. Narrow the scope of the subject to a topic
    • Be very specific with your topic.
    • List keywords that come to mind concerning your topic. (You'll need this list, below)
    • If your topic is too large, you will not be able to write a short paper.
    • (In one Master's thesis, I used three interconnected theories and six novels: the thesis is 130 pages long.)
  3. Learn "everything" about that topic.
    • Gather sources
    • Choose only professional writings or interviews with professionals as sources
    • A professional in your field is someone most others in your field accept as a professional.
    • Sometimes who is or is not a professional in a field is highly arguable.
    • Always be ready with documented proof as to the person's status as a professional.
    • If the article is printed in a peer-reviewed or "juried" journal, the ideas and information in that article are professional.
    • Use your list of keywords to run searches in databases
    • Scan article titles and summaries for possible useful information
    • Skim the article's introduction and conclusion.
    • If the introduction and conclusion do not seem worthy, the article is not worthy to your research.
    • If the article sounds worthy of your research, read it.
    • Research is continual phases of scanning, skimming, and reading.
    • Read keywords for any article; add them to your list.
    • Read the article's bibliography to find other sources.
    • Know the names of people who are involved in your topic.
    • Often, you will find the same names popping up in articles about a specific topic.
    • Make sure you are using either those names in your paper or articles written by those names.
    • Research is sloppy when experts in the field are not consulted or, worse, are not known
      by the author of the research (you).
  4. Isolate some aspect of the topic that we (in your field) could use a better understanding of:
    • A specific problem to address (Applied research)
    • A general new understanding (Theoretical research)
  5. Find a theory or model:
    • a theory to analyze the information (Theoretical research).
    • a model to test the topic's information (Applied research).
  6. Use the method:
    • Theoretical: Discuss (write) how the theory re-interprets the information.
    • Create a list of 10 ways that your subject can be used as examples to better under the theory
    • Applied: Follow the usage of the model and "test" your information
    • Write about how the information changes before and after the model.
  7. Write a Conclusion
    • Theoretical: Address other possible research scenarios that would use either other models or other theories with your topic.
  8. Write the Introduction
    • A good introduction is a full summary of the whole paper in one short paragraph.
    • The introduction must include your thesis statement.