Worksheet for a Research Paper

I. Thesis:

A. State your central issue as a question, for example, “Should smoking in certain bars be legal?”

 

B. Answer that question; be as specific as possible: “Smoking should be allowed in certain clearly designated smoking bars.”

C. Reframe your thesis as advice for a particular group. Your thesis should answer the question “Who should do what?” and use a word or phrase like “should,” “must” or “need to”: “The California legislature should allow smoking in certain clearly-designated smoking bars.”

 

D. Add a concession to the other side of the debate, admitting that the other point of view is partially correct. Put the concession first and your opinion second, using connecting words like “although,” “even though,” “however,” “nevertheless,” “yet,” or “but.” Although your argument should acknowledge the complexity of the issue, come down clearly on one other side. For example, you could write “Although second-hand smoke is harmful to workers, the California legislature should allow smoking in certain clearly-designated smoking bars, as long as all employees agree.”

 

E. Try rewording or simplifying your thesis to make it clearer: “Although second-hand smoke is harmful to workers, the California legislature should allow smoking in certain clearly-designated smoking bars, as long as all employees sign a waiver.”

 

II. Reasons:

A. Review “Argument” from The Norton Sampler.

B. Brainstorm reasons to support your working thesis. Try to come up with at least ten reasons. How can you convince readers?

 

C. Choose four to six of the best reasons above to focus on in your paper.

 

III. Body paragraphs: Rewrite your main reasons, or claims as topic sentences, making sure you have clear topic and controlling idea, which is what you want to say about the topic. Then brainstorm evidence to support each reason, or claim, you listed above. Use brief summaries, paraphrases, and quotes from the research materials you have chosen, as well as facts, statistics, examples, anecdotes, and so on. Be specific!

Claim #1

Topic (make it specific):

Controlling idea (what you want to say about the topic):

Topic sentence (topic +  controlling idea):

Evidence:

 

Concluding sentence (tying the evidence together and connecting your point back to your thesis):


Claim #2

Topic (make it specific):

Controlling idea (what you want to say about the topic):

Topic sentence (topic +  controlling idea):

Evidence:

 

 

Concluding sentence (tying the evidence together and connecting your point back to your thesis):


Claim #3


Topic (make it specific):

Controlling idea (what you want to say about the topic):

Topic sentence (topic +  controlling idea):

Evidence:

 

 

Concluding sentence (tying the evidence together and connecting your point back to your thesis):


Claim #4:


Topic (make it specific):

Controlling idea (what you want to say about the topic):

Topic sentence (topic +  controlling idea):

Evidence:

 

 

Concluding sentence (tying the evidence together and connecting your point back to your thesis):


Claim #5 (Optional):


Topic (make it specific):

Controlling idea (what you want to say about the topic):

Topic sentence (topic +  controlling idea):

Evidence:

 

 

Concluding sentence (tying the evidence together and connecting your point back to your thesis):


Claim #6 (Optional):


Topic (make it specific):

Controlling idea (what you want to say about the topic):

Topic sentence (topic +  controlling idea):

Evidence:

 

 

Concluding sentence (tying the evidence together and connecting your point back to your thesis):


IV. Catchy Title: Try these experiments to come up with an attention-grabbing title.

A. Try saying exactly what your paper is about. For example, “Legalizing Smoking Bars in California.”

 

B. Imagine your paper is a movie, a song, and a rock group. What would the name be for each of these? For instance, Movie: “Lighting Up,” Song: “Smokin’ at Aunt Charlie’s,”or Rock Group: “Ash.”

V. Audience and Purpose

A. Audience: Who cares?

1. Who is going to read your paper?

2. If you posted your paper online or published it in a magazine, what group or groups of people might be interested in your paper?

 

B. Purpose: So what?

1. Why would someone want to read your paper?

2. What could your readers (or imagined audience) learn or gain from your paper?

 

VI. Introduction:

A. Hook: Try each of these approaches to hooks, then choose the best. quotation, historical context, anecdote, surprising fact, provocative statement, or rhetorical question.

 

 

B. Background:

1.After the hook, introduce the main issue with a sentence or two:

 

2. Now introduce your main research source and author(s) (be sure to tell us a little bit about this person / people, for example “Professor of English at Stanford University”). Give a one line summary of the article. Make some notes here.

 

3. Build a bridge to your thesis. Carry the reader from the articles to your main idea:

4. Thesis:

 

V. Conclusion: Try these approaches to conclusions, then choose the best: restate the main point, explain significance (the “Who cares?” and “So what?”), give recommendations to the reader, or give your readers something more to think about:

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