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MLA Paper

"Whoa! Whoa, whoa, whoa.

You lot--wait a moment.

Let's take it slow"

--Doctor Who--


  • To construct (not write) an MLA research paper

Write each section of the paper separately from the others, then assemble them together to form the whole research paper.

The Skeletal Structure of the MLA paper

  • Same structure you used for the Mini-Research Papers.
  1. Introduction
  2. Scope/Summary
  3. Literature review
  4. Theory
  5. Analysis
  6. Conclusion
  7. Works Cited

General Guidelines

  • Pus Words
    • You can use up to 20 pus words in the paper
    • You must highlight with yellow any pus word you are intentionally using.
  • Paragraph size
    • A paragraph should not be much longer than 1/2 of a page which is 13 lines (lines, don't count the sentences)
    • A paragraph should not be much shorter than 1/3 of a page, which is 8 lines (lines, don't count sentences).
  • Who is the audience
    • Your audience for this paper is a 13 year old kid who knows every word you know (so don't dumb-down your language), but the kid knows so very little about the world (so you have to explain more fully than usual)
    • If you write this paper with me as the audience, weird errors start happening.
      • You'll think perhaps you don't need to say something or explain something fully because the professor already would know that.
      • Then I read the paper and think "Why didn't they explain that in more detail," or "why did they skip talking about _____? Are they an idiot?"

Process: Go step-by-step--slowly

The First Thing to Do

  • Before starting any section below, you'll need a list
  • Connecting your theory from TS 5 with your subject, think of and write down a list of 10 ways in which they connect.

Write this last: Introduction

  • This paragraph is the first in the paper but is written last
  • So I have put these directions last.
  • Write this section after you've written the conclusion

Don't think about the whole paper

Just focus on the Scope right now

1st part to write: Scope of Research (the subject)

  • Write one to three paragraphs.
  • Discuss the subject we agreed on.
  • Remember who the audience is, a 13 year old kid.
  • Do not discuss the theory in the scope
  • Do not use any sources or quotes in this part.
  • Scope sections should contain only common knowledge.
    • Everything in dictionaries and encyclopaedias is common knowledge, so you can never, ever use dictionaries or encyclopaedias as a source in a paper cannot be quoted or paraphrased.
    • Common knowledge does not mean common to people but common means the information can be found in many of a topic's sources; the information is common to the sources.
    • Most people do not know Abe Lincoln's mother's first name, but her name IS common knowledge among the biographies of his life.
  • Ever wonder if you should cite that information that you just learned and just put into your own words? The answer is simple.
    • If it is common knowledge (found in many sources that discuss that topic), you do not have to cite it. If the information is not common to most of a topic's sources (meaning that information is not found in most of a topic's sources), such as an opinion or an idea, then you must cite it.
  • End the scope section with a transition into the next section, the literature review.
    • Many sources from websites to journal articles discuss [the broader theme] as well as organizations like [name of volunteer site]
  • State and defend
    • Go back to your first sentence in this section; does it clearly summarize this whole section? If not, make it do so.
  • Lastly, re-read what you wrote, highlight or remove pus.
  • Move on to the literature review...

Just focus on assembling the Literature Review

You already wrote this section

2nd part to write: Literature Review

  • Assemble one to two paragraphs.
  • Assemble article/chapter summaries from tracking sheets 1-4
  • You already wrote these summaries in the SECOND CONTAINERS of each tracking sheet
  • Take those summaries from the SECOND CONTAINERS and re-write them so you can add the author and article names.
  • In mini-research papers, we used one sentence per source; here use three or more sentences per "source".
  • These "sources" DO NOT go in the Works Cited.
  • At the end of this Literature Review section, introduce what comes next: the theory
  • State and defend
    • Go back to your first sentence in this section; does it clearly summarize this whole section? If not, make it do so.
  • Lastly, check formatting of titles, remove or highlight pus words, and proof-read.
  • Move on to the theory...

Focus on the Theory from your TS 5;
nothing else

3rd part to write: Theory

  • One or two paragraphs
  • Explain the theory you chose
  • Remember who the audience is, a 13 year old kid.
  • Use examples as needed.
  • Do not discuss the subject in this section
  • At some point, quote your source for the theory
    • You must use the source that was in your tracking sheet 5 in this paragraph.
    • You do not need to use that exact quote from your Tracking Sheet.
    • You can return to the same source and find a different passage to quote.
    • Remember, the aim of quoting sources in research is to bring in other voices, and not necessarily to prove your point.
    • Use the same quote structure we have been using.
    • Lead-in sentence: "quote".
  • You'll need a proof (screen shot placed in a word document) of the quoted passage from the source.
  • I do not need the abstract proof
  • State and defend
    • Go back to your first sentence in this section; does it clearly summarize this whole section? If not, make it do so.
  • Lastly, highlight or remove pus then proof-read.
  • Move on to analysis...

Here, take each of the 4 to 6 paragraphs, one at a time

4th part to write: Analysis

General Overview of Analysis

  • Two pages
    • You'll only need 4 paragraphs if the paragraphs are 1/2 of a length of a page.
    • You'll need 6 paragraphs if the paragraphs are 1/3 the length of a page.
  • Open your list of connections.
  • Organize the list from your top choice to the least choice.
    • Top choice meaning you like that connection best or you think you can write about that connection for half a page.
    • Least choice meaning you don't like that connection or think it would be difficult to write a small paragraph about that connection.
  • Quotes
    • You'll need all 4 quoted sources throughout the analysis section.
    • Every paragraph does not need to have a quoted passage, but you must have 4 total in the analysis section.
    • Those 4 quoted passages must come from the sources in your tracking sheets.
    • You may quote the same source more than once, but it would still only count as one source, and you need 4 sources throughout the analysis.

Writing an analysis paragraph

  1. If you created a list of 10 connections (how the theory connects to the subject), choose one connection from your list of ten.
    • At the start of the term with the mini-research papers, you made two connections of that subject and that theory.
    • Those two connections became two analysis paragraphs in the mini-research papers.
    • For this MLA Paper, you'll need 4-6 connections (4-6 paragraphs) in the analysis.
  2. State and defend
    • Begin the paragraph by directly stating the subject and the theory, and in that sentence directly state what the connection is.
  3. Explain carefully the connection of the theory and the subject
    • Remember who the audience is, a 13 year old kid.
    • Use examples you found in your sources.
    • Or, create anecdotal examples; in other words, use "for instances" which are not written as being true, but as hypothetical.
  4. Add a quote, if you can
    • Set up the quote correctly
    • Lead-in sentence: "quote"
    • You don't have to use the exact quote from your Tracking Sheets.
    • You may return to that TS's source and find a different passage to quote.
    • But the only sources you can use in the paper are from your tracking sheets.
    • You'll need a proof (screen shot placed in a word document) of the quoted passage from the source.
  5. Re-Check state and defend
    • Go back to your first sentence in this paragraph; does it clearly summarize this paragraph? If not, make it do so.
  6. Lastly, highlight or remove pus and proof-read.
  7. Move on to another analysis paragraph

Another analysis paragraph: Lather, rinse, repeat

  1. Choose another connection
  2. State and defend
  3. Thoroughly explain the connection of the theory and the subject
  4. Add a quote, if you can
  5. Lastly, check for pus and proof-read.
  6. Move on to the next analysis paragraph until you have two full pages of analysis.

After two pages of analysis paragraphs, move on to the conclusion...

Write the Conclusion

Suggest Future Research


  • One Paragraph
  • This paragraph is NOT a warm fuzzy wrap up.
  • The aim of this paragraph is to give others possible research thesis statements.
  • Use language such as this:
    • Someone could continue my research by looking at ...
    • I could further this research by focusing on...
  • Use one sentence per connection from your remaining list of 10 connections
  • Discuss 4 to 6 of those connections.


Write the Introduction


  • This paragraph is written last
  • However, this paragraph is the first paragraph in the paper, so move it there.
  • Write a one paragraph summary of the entire paper (usually half of a page long) .
  • Begin with a thesis sentence that connects the subject, the theory, and the ways they connect.
    • Yes, that's all going to be in one sentence.
    • Be as brief as possible with the 4 -6 connections you used in the analysis
  • After the thesis sentence, summarize with one or more sentences every section of the paper and summarize each analysis paragraph with one sentence each.
  • Do not copy and paste analysis sentences.
  • Structure of the Introduction paragraph will match the structure of the paper (minus the conclusion)
    • Thesis: one sentence
    • Subject: one or two sentences
    • Literature review: one sentence
      • Be general; don't list specific sources
      • Example: Many sources discuss [my subject] from websites to journals, from ....
    • Theory: one or two sentences
    • Analysis, paragraph 1: one sentence
    • Analysis, paragraph 2: one sentence
    • Analysis, paragraph 3: one sentence
    • Keep going until you've given one sentence summaries of each analysis paragraph.
  • End this paragraph with a transition to the next paragraph, the scope.
  • Lastly, highlight or remove pus and proof-read.

The Title


  • Go here to learn about titles to your papers.

Build the Works Cited

Works Cited

  • The Works Cited is THE MOST IMPORTANT PAGE in a research paper.
    • Professors look at the Works Cited page first, and that can set the tone for how they read and grade the rest of the paper.
    • If the Works Cited page has errors, then obviously the rest of the paper will have errors.
    • And then they will find every. single. last. error.
    • It's quite standard for professors to immediately remove one letter grade from the paper for not having a perfect works cited.
    • The Works Cited is THE MOST IMPORTANT PAGE in a research paper.
    • I look at your Works Cited first, and if it is not perfect, I immediately send the paper back to you for a rewrite, without having looked at anything else.
    • You can use Purdue's Online Writing Lab (Owl) or my color-coded abridged version on Inverseintuition.org:
      • OWL
      • InverseIntuition.org
      • If you use a citation maker, or any other source than the two listed above, and the citation does not match one of the two sources above, the citation is incorrect.
      • If I mark something wrong on your Works Cited, but you think it is correct, your only defense is to show me how you followed a page on OWL or on InverseIntuition.org
  • The Works Cited should only have the five sources that you quoted in the paper.
    • One from the theory section
    • Four from the analysis section

It's a Wrap!

Wrapping it up

  • Check the formatting assignment to format the MLA paper correctly.
    • Double check that you do not have extra spacing after paragraphs
  • Using comments, label EVERY paragraph by its section name.
    • Put your cursor at the start of a paragraph, insert comment, then label appropriately:
    • Introduction
    • Scope/Summary
    • Literature review
    • Theory
    • Analysis
    • Conclusion
  • The MLA Research Paper with Works Cited needs to be in one word document.
    • File name: LastnameMLApaper.docx
  • All five proofs needs to be in another Word document.
    • Above each screen shot in this document, write which of your tracking sheets you used to obtain that quoted passage.
    • File name:LastnameMLAproofs.docx
  • Submit Paper.