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Use at least 5 sources, one of which must be a book (you may access a book source online through the campus’s library website)
Getting Started:
1. Decide on a topic. Your paper should be an informative paper. You may decide to write about a medical problem or procedure, an important person, a historical event, etc.
2. Narrow down your topic to a workable rough thesis. For example, you might narrow your topic from the Revolutionary War to the role of women in the Revolutionary War. Formulate a specific research question to guide you in your research: For example, What role did women play in the Revolutionary War? Your answer to this question will be your thesis. Stay away from “tired” topics such as abortion,gun control, the death penalty and teen pregnancy!
3. Go to the library or search the Internet for sources. You may use books, journals, magazines, newspapers, on-line databases such as N.C. Live and GaleNet, films and television programs, and personal or telephone interviews to obtain information on your topic.
4. If you use general Internet sources, use only professional, reliable sites. Remember, one of your sources must be a book!
Taking Notes:
Prepare a Bibliography or Source card for each source you use. Refer to the MLA handouts to decide what information you will need to document your source on your Works Cited/References page. Taking the extra time here to make sure you have the necessary information written down will save you time in the long run!
As you take notes, prepare note cards for each source that correspond with the source cards. To avoid inaccuracy and unintentional plagiarism, be very careful that your note cards clearly reflect whether the information you wrote down was paraphrased, summarized, or is a direct quote!
Drafting:
Write down your thesis statement. Your goal is to inform. What is the main point you want to get across in your paper?
Using your note cards, prepare a rough outline of the main ideas you want to cover in your paper. This will help you to organize your paper effectively and to avoid rambling off your topic.
Start writing, using your notes to support your ideas. Avoid using too many direct quotes! While some direct quotes are necessary and will enhance your paper, too many will take control of the paper out of your hands. Most of your information can be summarized or paraphrased from sources! Don’t just cut and paste information from the Internet to complete your paper! This will be obvious to the reader and will reflect that you didn’t actually write the paper.
Editing and Proofreading:
Read your initial draft carefully. Do you need to reorganize some information? Do you need more support from your sources for some ideas? Do you see any typos, grammar errors, or spelling mistakes?
Check your MLA or APA citations against your source and note cards. Are they accurate? Do they follow proper MLA style?
When you have completed corrections on your first draft, go through the editing and proofing process again. Are more corrections or changes necessary?
REMEMBER THAT YOUR THESIS MUST MAKE A CLAIM; THIS IS NOT A REPORT ABOUT SOMEONE OR SOMETHING, IT IS A RESEARCH PAPER. IN OTHER WORDS, DON’T SIMPLY TELL ME ABOUT MALCOLM X’S LIFE. MAKE A CLAIM THAT HE WAS THE MOST INFLUENTIAL AFRICAN AMERICAN OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY BECAUSE…THEN GIVE YOUR THREE REASONS SUPPORTING YOUR CLAIM. PAY CAREFUL ATTENTION TO THE FOLLOWING EVALUATION CRITERIA BEFORE YOU START WRITING!

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