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Assignment | Research Paper (Khalaf): Writing

ENGL 1302 | Prof. Paula Khalaf | Summer 2020

Parts of Your Paper

  1. Introduction Paragraph
    1. Introduce your topic
    2. Last sentence is your thesis statement
  2. "Big idea" paragraph
  3. Next "big idea" paragraph
  4. Repeat big idea paragraphs as needed, depending on your topic
  5. Conclusion: bring it all together
    1. Don't just think of this as a summary: how does everything above come together? What's the point? What's the big take-away?

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Handout

Develop Your Thesis

Your thesis is where you put forward your argument in a concise, declarative way. It is typically one sentence long and comes at the end of your introduction paragraph. You should only develop your thesis after you've started doing your research. You can have a thesis in mind as you start your research, of course, but be prepared to change it if you find it's unsupportable with the information available to you.

Thesis statements should be:

  • Specific - lay out exactly the arguments/reasons you're using in your thesis
  • Contestable - if you can find a definitive yes/no answer within a few minutes of Google searching, it's not arguable enough
  • Narrow - not about all of privacy ever, but this little sliver of a privacy issue in this particular time and society
  • Provable - or at least something you can persuasively argue.

Your thesis statement should essentially give your reader a preview of what arguments you'll be presenting over the course of your paper.

Instead of Quoting...

✧・゚: *✧・゚:*  PARAPHRASE. *:・゚✧*:・゚✧

Original Text from Source:

A much larger analogue of the asteroid belt, the Kuiper Belt is a cosmic junkyard, full of rubble thought to be left over from the formation of the solar system. But whereas the asteroid belt is made mostly of rock and metal, objects in the Kuiper Belt are composed largely of frozen water, ammonia and methane. Pluto is one such chunk, albeit considerably bigger than average. It was demoted to its present status of dwarf planet in 2006 after astronomers discovered another Kuiper Belt body, called Eris, that is of similar size.

How should you add this information to your paper?

"A much larger analogue of the asteroid belt, the Kuiper Belt is a cosmic junkyard, full of rubble thought to be left over from the formation of the solar system. But whereas the asteroid belt is made mostly of rock and metal, objects in the Kuiper Belt are composed largely of frozen water, ammonia and methane. Pluto is one such chunk, albeit considerably bigger than average. It was demoted to its present status of dwarf planet in 2006 after astronomers discovered another Kuiper Belt body, called Eris, that is of similar size" ("Two Years On").


The Break-down:

  • Too long of a quote for a relatively short paper
  • Doesn't use any original content to introduce the quote or finish up the thought

The Kuiper Belt consists of icy chunks of frozen water, ammonia, and methane believed to be "leftover from the formation of the solar system," much like the rocky field of the asteroid belt ("Two Years On").


The Break-down:

  • Only directly quotes what is needed
  • Original content introduces the quote

Though both the asteroid belt and Kuiper belt are believed to be remnants of the solar system's formation, the Kuiper belt consists mostly of ice rather than rock, including frozen methane and ammonia as well as water ("Two Years On").


The Break-down:

  • The source material is almost completely re-written
  • This would much more easily fit into the organization of my paper.

A bigger version of the asteroid belt, the Kuiper Belt is a cosmic junkyard, full of rubble believed to be left over from the formation of the solar system. But while the asteroid belt is made mostly of rock and metal, objects in the Kuiper Belt are composed largely of frozen water, ammonia and methane.


The Break-down:

  • No citation is given
  • Even if there were a citation, there are no quotation marks around the words repeated verbatim.
  • A few words have been swapped out for synonyms but this does not actually introduce originality.

A bigger version of the asteroid belt, the Kuiper Belt is a cosmic junkyard, full of rubble believed to be left over from the formation of the solar system. But while the asteroid belt is made mostly of rock and metal, objects in the Kuiper Belt are composed largely of frozen water, ammonia and methane ("Two Years On").


The Break-down:

  • Even with a citation, there are no quotation marks around the words repeated verbatim.
  • A few words have been swapped out for synonyms but this does not actually introduce originality: it's still not your original though!

Works Cited Citation:

“Two Years On, the Kuiper Belt is in sight.” The Economist, 16 Sept. 2017, www.economist.com/science-and-technology/2017/09/16/two-years-on-the-kuiper-belt-is-in-sight.

Writing Better

Avoid the First Person (I, me, my, us, etc)

As the author of your paper, it's implied that everything you're suggesting is your opinion or conclusion: you don't need to insert yourself even more! For example,

  • Avoid: I find this idea to be really interesting because reasons.
  • Also avoid: One finds this idea to be interesting.
  • Instead: This idea is interesting because reasons.

Active Voice (Not Passive)

You can write a sentence in passive voice and be totally correct grammatically. However, it's a weak sentence. It's...well...passive. How do you know you have passive voice? Add "by zombies" to the end. Does your sentence make sense and sound good? You've got passive voice.

  • Passive: Students were eaten (by zombies).

The person/entity/creature actually doing the action is buried way off in the sentence, if you bother to include it at all!

  • Active: Zombies ate the students.

This is more likely to creep into your writing in a more subtle way.

  • Also passive: It's believed that zombies originated in Haiti.

Well, believed by whom?

  • Active: Folklorists believe that zombies originated in Haiti.