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Assignment | Astronomy Research Paper (Moturu): Organize Your Writing

PHYS 1403 & PHYS 1404 | Prof. Sarada Moturu (Fall 2021)

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?


An outline isn't required for this assignment. It can be a very useful tool for you anyway, though!


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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.

"Big Idea" Paragraphs

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.

Where's Your Evidence?

You are not an astronomer. Nearly everything you write in this paper should be backed up by credible evidence.

Give Credit to Your Sources

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.

Avoid Direct Quotes/Copy-Pasting

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 and/or 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!

Managing Your Research

Your process to capture sources and citations will be very individual, but be consistent and choose a tool to help organize your research. Some suggested tools:


OneDrive - 1 TB free storage 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.


Zotero is a free, open access extension that runs in the Firefox and Chrome browsers that's designed to gather, download, and tag your research. Helpful tutorials.


ZoteroBib is a free citation tool that supports MLA, APA, CMOS, and thousands of others. Use this instead of the full Zotero if you just need some quick citations.