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:
Your thesis statement should essentially give your reader a preview of what arguments you'll be presenting over the course of your paper.
These are your body paragraphs: generally speaking, you want one main (big) idea per paragraph. When you change topics, it's time to change paragraphs. This is where you'll apply your research and use in-text citations that connect to your Works Cited page. Introduce each paragraph with a topic sentence to give your reader a sense of what this paragraph will be about.
You are not a literary critic or literature PhD -- and even if you were, authority alone does not usually equal credibility. Nearly everything you write in this paper should be backed up by credible evidence, whether that's pulling from your source literature or your research.
Credit comes in 2 parts: in-text citations + your Works Cited page. Your Works Cited page comes at the end of your paper and has all the nitty-gritty details about your sources. In-text or parenthetical citation are like abbreviated versions of those long citations: just enough info that someone can figure out which Works Cited source that info goes with.
When you're using someone else's words, you're also using someone else's thoughts.
The purpose of a research paper is to gather all these disparate sources of information together and weave them into a new article that makes a new point. No, this isn't a new point like you've discovered a new planet, but this should be your very own unique presentation of the significance of your topic.
This is a very short paper: you should not have numerous long "word for word direct quotes from a source" in your paper. You don't have the time or page count to waste repeating what someone else has already written. You need to get your analysis, your synthesis of this information, written out instead!
While conducting research you will need to capture the articles and associated citations. Your process will be very individual, but be consistent and choose a tool to help organize your research. Some suggested tools below:
OneDrive - Cloud storage from Microsoft Office 365. 1 TB free for Lone Star College students.
Evernote - The Basic version is free. Works across all mobile devices. Create notebooks for each course or writing assignment. Be sure to download the Web Clipper as well.
EasyBib - Citation generator that is free for MLA.