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English Research Paper Assignment

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The subjects listed at the end of these instructions need to be narrowed to some smaller aspect of the larger subject.  Once you’ve become familiar with the larger subject (perhaps by reading a few encyclopedia entries), look for some part or aspect of the whole that you can focus your paper on.  Next, you will need to decide what you wish to say “about” that narrowed aspect of the subject.  Your paper should have a title and a thesis, as well as an introduction and a conclusion.  A thesis should contain a narrowed subject (what you’re writing about) and a sharpened focus (what you’re saying about what you’re writing about).

Two Types of Acceptable Papers (With either type, you must cite at least five sources and include a Works Cited page using the MLA format)

Remember that you may write an informative research paper in which you simply explain some aspect of the subject, preferably one that your readers likely do not know about or may misunderstand; or, you can write an argumentative research paper in which you attempt to find a topic where there is disagreement among authorities.  In this sort of paper, you argue for one side or another, explaining your reasoning in support of the side that you have picked and countering any evidence and reasoning on the opposing side.

Some Notes on Structure and Plagiarism

Your assignment is to write a double-spaced paper (using at least three outside sources) that is 1,000 to 1500 words in length (four to six pages, not including the Works Cited page).  As noted above, you may write an informative research paper or an argumentative research paper.  In either type of paper, you must make sure that you put all exact words in quotation marks and cite these sources using the appropriate documentation style (in this case, MLA format).  To do otherwise is the worst kind of plagiarism.  For help, use MyLiteratureLab resources (See the Writing and Research links under the Resources tab), as well as online writing sites, such as the OWL site at Purdue University.  Type in “OWL,” “Purdue,” and “Research Paper” into Google to get started.

Remember, too, that you should synthesize sources, combining information from three or more sources and creating your own organized essay.  Simply stealing the organization and development of an article and presenting the existing article’s structure as your own is still plagiarism, even if you use quotation marks around the quoted material and cite sources.  

Finally, any idea or information that is original and cannot be found and corroborated in several separate sources must be cited.  In other words, any information that is not common knowledge must be cited, even if you change the sentence structure and word choice of the original passage. Otherwise, it is plagiarism.

Possible Topics (Once you’ve chosen a subject, narrow it down to some smaller subtopic and then decide how to develop it.)  You can also look for topics by going to the Smithsonian, NPR, and the History Channel websites.  But remember that should not simply take a story and report it whole cloth; you must use the information you find there as a jumping off point.  Finally, your goal is, above all, to make your paper interesting.

  • Shay’s Rebellion                                              
  • Geronimo
  • Louis Armstrong
  • Socialist Party of America
  • Eugene Debs
  • Reconstruction
  • Ash Can School of Art
  • Teapot Dome Scandal
  • Assassination of Archduke Ferdinand
  • Assassination of Abraham Lincoln
  • Scott Joplin
  • Pure Food and Drug Act
  • Spanish-American War and The Maine
  • Philippines in the Spanish-American War
  • 1918-1919 Spanish flu
  • The Wright Brothers
  •  The detective story
  • Fanny Fern        
  • The Townsend Act
  • Salem Witch Trials
  • The Boston Massacre
  • The Declaration of Independence
  • Slavery
  • The Nat Turner Rebellion
  • Naturalism
  • Realism
  • The Battle of Little Bighorn
  • Al Capone
  • Stock Market Crash of 1929
  • Pearl Harbor
  • D-Day
  • Hiroshima
  • McCarthyism
  • Civil Rights Act
  • Watergate
  • Citizens United

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