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BRITISH LITERATURE RESEARCH PAPER
PART 1: OUTLINE
You need to include the OUTLINE the answers for the following questions:
What is your topic?
What is your research question?
Answer the PLANNING RESEARCH PAPER
FINAL RESEARCH PAPER
What do you need to do for this research paper? Here’s the plan:
1. Select a topic from a list of six possible topics on British literature. Your
topic will connect the work of literature to the time and culture in which
it was written.
2. Decide on a research question, develop a thesis, and conduct your
3. Cite at least five research sources. At least one of them must be a print
source that is not an encyclopedia. In addition you must include Graphic,
4. Develop an organizational plan, including a formal outline for your
5. Write a research paper on an aspect of British literature that you
choose. It will be 79 double-spaced pages long, or about 20002,700
Here are your six possible topic choices for the research paper. For each topic, write
at least one reason why you would or would not like to choose it.
Chaucers Canterbury Tales as a portrait of the rising middle class in the
The question of authorship of Shakespeares plays
Elizabethan theater as popular entertainment for its time
The nineteenth-century novel as an examination of the British class
system: either Hard Times by Charles Dickens or Pride and Prejudice by
How William Butler Yeatss Irish identity shaped his poetry
Chinua Achebes fiction as a depiction of social change in a British colony
Please remember to use MLA format for your outline and sources
The paper will be graded on the basis of the checklist below.
The purpose of informing the reader about a literary topic is evident.
The research paper has an introduction with a thesis statement.
The body paragraphs contain facts and quotations from research.
The research paper ends with a conclusion.
The organization of ideas in the research paper is easy to follow, and the
paper includes formatting, graphics, and multimedia.
The research paper includes both internal citations and a Works Cited
The language of the research paper is appropriate and clear and
includes domain-specific vocabulary and literary techniques or devices
that help convey complex ideas.
The tone of the research paper is consistently serious.
The paper has a variety of sentence structures and sentence beginnings.
Notice these key characteristics:
The paper presents information that the writer has researched from
The writer documents the sources where she found the information.
The paper contains no personal comments.
The paper’s language is formal. Its tone is serious.
The paper presents a serious thesis that is followed by thoughtful
analysis and substantiated by factual evidence.
There are many facts in the Model Research Paper, but a research paper
consists of more than just facts. Writing that consists of facts alone is a report.
The difference between a report and a research paper is the presence of its
premise or thesis statement .
A research paper is not just about a topic; it is about the significance of the
topic, as articulated by the thesis statement.
The thesis statement is a conclusion that the writer has drawn from evidence
or an assertion that the writer makes that is supported by evidence.
A thesis statement is arguable. In fact, the writer’s purpose in presenting a
thesis is to present a point or a case, supported by a body of evidence.
Someone else might draw a different conclusion and use different evidence.
How does a writer get from a thesis statement to a whole paper?
The key is to present a unified and cohesive argument. An effective research
paper possesses unity, a trait of writing achieved when all sentences in a
paragraph or all paragraphs in an essay support the main idea.
In a unified research paper, all the facts that the writer paraphrases or cites
support the thesis. The writer may have found many facts that related to the
topic but that did not relate to the thesis. Those facts did not go into the paper.
It’s your first chance to make a good impression.
An effective paper, with a good introduction , should capture the reader’s
interest from the first sentence onward, but don’t get cute, personal, or
Because a research paper is a serious examination of an issue, its hookshould
be serious; but it can introduce the topic in a vivid way.
What kinds of hooks are appropriate for a research paper?
A surprising fact about the topic
An anecdote from the times
A “what-if” related to the topic
Unlike the hook, which appears early, the thesis statement for a research
paper usually appears late in the introduction, such as in the last or next-tolast sentence.
In a research paper on literature, the thesis statement
Names the author
States the paper’s main idea, purpose, or assertion
The assertion, or the main idea, is the most important aspect of the thesis. It
tells the reader what the paper is going to explain or demonstrate.
The Supporting Paragraphs
Supporting paragraphs (body) present ideas and evidence that back up the
Typically, the researcher makes an assertion; for example, “William Blake was a
Then, the researcher provides evidence to support the assertion, such as that
Blake valued imagination over reason.
Or, the researcher may present the evidence first and then draw a conclusion
Here is how to tell the difference between an assertion and a piece of
An assertion is an idea or a general statement that requires proof.
A piece of evidence is a specific fact that helps prove the idea or statement.
Citations in the Text
As a writer, you need to give credit where credit is due.
What do you need to cite in a research paper?
You need to provide citations for
All facts, unless they are common knowledge
All ideas that are found in the works of other people
All quotationsor the words of other peoplethat you include in your
Like the conclusions of other types of nonfiction writing, the conclusion of a
research paper restates the main idea or thesis in words that are different
from the introduction.
The conclusion may also present an additional idea, related to the topic, that
leaves the reader with food for thought.
Review the Model Research Paper’s introduction and then try to find the
restatement of the thesis in the conclusion.
Headings, Graphics, and Multimedia
The model paper also contains headings, graphics, and multimedia.
The headings , which appear in bold, give readers an idea about what the
upcoming paragraphs of text will be about. Headings are like titles for each
section of a research paper.
Graphics include tables, figures, graphs, and charts. These elements convey
important information in ways that can be quickly and easily understood. In
the model paper, a table informs readers of the rapid population growth that
London underwent in the late 1700s.
Multimedia is a broad term that can describe everything from maps and still
pictures to songs and video clips. Incorporating multimedia into a research
paper helps writers to expand the experience of readers, capturing their
attention in new ways and making the writing more memorable and impactful.
In the model paper, the writer uses a picture to show a mill whose destruction
was an influential event in William Blakes time.
The writer of the Model Research Paper used appropriate diction to make the
paper sound serious and objective.
She did not use colloquialisms or slang .
She avoided personal emotional expression and exaggeration.
She wrote in the third-person and did not use I or you.
She used concrete language to make descriptions vivid and abstract language
to discuss ideas.
A research paper has formal language and an objective tone. But there is more
to choosing the right language.
When you write a research paper, you should choose words and phrases that
are specific to the domain or field being addressed in the paper. So, for
instance, a research paper on the animals of Africa might refer to the phylum,
class, and order of different species.
In the model research paper, the writer focuses on the word chartered,
analyzing both its legal meaning and its social implications in Blakes time. The
writer also uses the phrase child labor practices and apprentices, both
terms specific to the economic system of Industrial Revolution-era England.
Literary devices similes , metaphors , and analogies are also important
tools for writers of research papers.
Using comparisons to familiar ideas or images helps writers convey complex
ideas to readers in familiar, comprehensible ways.
In the model research paper, the writer compares the poet to a canary in
societys coal mine. This comparison helps readers imagine and understand
the idea that the work of Blake was not simply art for arts sake., Blakes writing
was also meant to alert people to the problems of the age.
The way you arrange words or phrases in a sentence is called syntax. When
you write your research paper, think about ways you can vary the syntax to
effectively communicate your ideas.
One way to vary syntax is to combine clauses. Coordinating conjunctions clarify
the relationship among the clauses. Consider this sentence from the model
The first stanza contains pastoral imagery, but the second stanza turns
gloomy with a description of our clouded hills (6).
The conjunction but signals to the reader that the second clause is in contrast
to the first.
Subordinating conjunctions can also clarify the relationship among ideas. Read
this sentence from the model research paper:
Perhaps the chimney sweepers were much on the poets mind because
they were prevalent in his London.
The subordinating conjunction because lets the reader know that the second
clause is dependent on the first clause. It lets the reader know that the fact
that chimney sweepers were prevalent in Blakes London is perhaps the reason
they were prevalent in his poetry (not the other way around!).
Had the clause they were prevalent in his London been its own sentence, it
may not have been clear how that idea related to their prevalence in Blakes
In most sentences written in the English language, the subject comes before
the verb. In an inverted sentence, however, the verb comes first.
From the difficult conditions arose many great leaders.
The verb, arose, precedes the subject, leaders.
Why use inverted sentences? Varying syntax from the standard subject-verb
word order brings attention to a sentence.
An inverted sentence may also help you transition between two ideas. For
example, suppose the sentence that came before From the difficult conditions
arose many great leaders described those difficult conditions. Beginning the
next sentence with a reference to the difficult conditions makes the transition
between ideas very clear.
Syntax is a broad termthere are many, many ways to vary your syntax for
effect. By studying the syntax of established writers, you can
Learn how to replicate those techniques in your own writing.
Become a better reader.
One reference, Artful Sentences: Syntax as Style, by Virginia Tufte, analyzes
syntactic techniques by various renowned writers. By studying writing at the
sentence level, you learn how even the placement of an adverb in a sentence
can affect the sentences meaning.
Many style manuals, such as The Elements of Style, by E.B. White and William
Strunk, Jr., contain sections on syntax and are available almost entirely on the
English | Graded Assignment | Planning a Research Paper
Planning a Research Paper
The questions below will help you plan your research paper. You may have already answered some of them in
your Student Guide, so refer to your Student Guide, if you wish.
Remember: You need to complete the assignment by the due date to receive full credit.
Total score: ____ of 100 points
(Score for Question 1: ___ of 15 points)
1. Write the thesis statement of your research paper. Be sure to write it in one or two complete sentences.
Type your answer here.
(Score for Question 2: ___ of 70 points)
2. Write a formal outline for your research paper. Include topics, subtopics, and details so that the reader gains a
clear idea of the contents of your paper. Use your organized notes as a basis for your outline. Remember to
begin with a title and to follow all the formatting rules. You may refer to the Making Formal Outlines page to
help with the format.
Type your answer here.
(Score for Question 3: ___ of 15 points)
3. List four or more sources that you are using for your research paper. At least one should be a print source.
Provide all the information you included on your bibliography cards.
Type your answer here.
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