Research Papers Overview Definition : In a research paper, you include information from sources such as books, articles, interviews, and Internet sites. You also use your own ideas, knowledge, and opinions. Most of your paper (as a rule of thumb, at least 80%) must be in your own words.

Main Ideas: Your paper should focus on a central issue that interests you. Limit your topic so that you can cover it in a paper of the assigned length. Organize the paper around the points that are most important in your opinion. State your main ideas in your own words, and use information from your sources to support them.

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Paraphrasing and Summarizing: Incorporate ideas and facts from your sources by paraphrasing and summarizing. Write the ideas in your own way, using different words and sentence structures and leaving out unnecessary details.

Quotations: Use quotations when the author’s words are especially well chosen or memorable. When you quote even a short phrase, copy the exact words, enclose them in quotation marks, and cite the name of the author or speaker. Documentation: When you give facts, paraphrase and summarize ideas, or quote someone else’s words, you must document your sources. As a rule, anything that is not common knowledge must be cited. The purpose of documentation is to give credit to the author and to allow your readers to look up your sources. Your paper is stronger because you can prove that the information came from reliable sources.

Your Research Paper should include at least four outside sources that you “quote directly” in your paper.

Writing the Research Paper, Step by Step:

Write your Introductory Paragraph by making a few general comments about your topic before transitioning into your thesis:
Example: Increased use of the Internet has brought on a new challenge to marriages: cyber-cheating. Before the Internet cheating was pretty easy to define—sex, kissing, and any other kind of inappropriate physical contact with somebody who isn’t your spouse. But in the current digital age, “cheating” isn’t so easy to define. Sending a flirty text, exchanging risqué Facebook messages, and clicking that little red heart under an attractive person’s picture are the type of things that can get you in hot water with your significant other, but without the physical contact is it really cheating?

Note: You do not have to include your outside sources in your Introductory Paragraph because at this point in your essay you are not proving anything.

Write your Body Paragraphs using your outside sources:
Example: Although it may seem harmless, flirting via email and text messages can be very destructive to a relationship. “We never met in person,” “it’s just an emoji,” “everybody uses the poking feature on Facebook!” These types of activities may seem innocent enough to the persons engaging in them, but many people see these as emotional affairs even if they never meet face to face. The fact that a lover feels the need to have constant contact with someone else in a tantalizing manner is inappropriate. It becomes a form of bonding as the two people chatting get to know more and more about each other, and some people consider it to be a betrayal. Even if the two chatters never have a face to face encounter, they are sharing moments of intimacy and sexual fantasies that should only be shared with their partners. In his essay “Is Porn Really Destroying 500,000 Marriages Annually?” Kevin B. Skinner, a licensed psychologist, holds that there’s more to cheating than just physical contact. He contends, “Obviously, people are going to say that ‘I never touched her, so it’s not cheating,’ but there is emotional cheating as well as emotional affairs. That’s when a person has fantasies or interactions with someone, and it interferes with a real-life commitment” (8). It’s bad enough to worry about a significant other when he goes to a social gathering without you—but now you have to worry about the chat rooms! Skinner adds, “When people discover their partner is having an online affair, there is a very big emotional explosion, on par with a real-life affair, lying about distance and using the partner for a vehicle of fantasy can cause incredible emotional damage” (11).

Note: For the full “MLA In-Text Citation” (i.e., the “Outside Source”), the writer provides the title of the work, the author, the genre, a direct quote, and the page number. *If no page number is available, then put the author’s last name in the parenthesis; do not put in the parenthesis the website address or the title of the work, which will be detailed on your Works Cited Page.

Write your Concluding Paragraph by re-stating your Thesis using “fresh words” and making summarizing general comments such as you did in your Introduction:
Example: It’s love versus the laptop and the future of marriage is in the crosshairs. Sexting, texting, watching porn, changing your relationship status on Facebook—is it really cheating?

Write your MLA Works Cited page to cite your sources, observing MLA guidelines including double spacing throughout and indenting (after the first line of entry)

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