If you are experienced in writing research papers, skip Step 1 and proceed immediately to Step 2.
If you are new at writing research papers – or you feel you need to review the process – begin by studying Chapter 28, “Writing Research Papers” in your Pocket Wadsworth Handbook by Kirszner & Mandell. (If you do not yet have your copy of the handbook, you will find it in your college bookstore.) Pay special attention to Section 28d, “Developing a Tentative Thesis,” and Section 28g, “Fine-Tuning Your Thesis.”
Fine-Tuning Your Thesis to Build a Strong Outline
Adapted from the Pocket Wadsworth Handbook
Tentative Thesis Statement (rough, more vague)
Not all Americans have access to the Internet, and this is a potentially serious problem.
Final Thesis Statement (more precise)
Although the Internet has changed our lives for the better, it threatens to leave many people behind, creating two distinct classes – those who have access and those who do not.
In one or two sentences, identify what you think is the most important theme in The Bluest Eye. Or you might notice a key symbol or detail that runs like a thread through the novel. For example, how does Morrison portray God in the novel? Or race relations. Or family dynamics throughout the story. As you do your research, you will certainly find specific and detailed ideas that you could pursue in a paper. It is this important theme or main idea that leads into your thesis statement.
Spend some time thinking about how to support your thesis statement. In this case, you think about how Morrison uses the various elements of fiction to highlight or explain your theme, idea, detail, symbol, etc. Identify specific passages, events, character actions, conflicts, descriptions, and details, etc. that support your thesis. This is the textual evidence that you will provide in support of your thesis.
After you prepare your annotated bibliography, read through the five sources, the so-called “secondary” works on the novel, that you found. Add two or three more with further study as needed. (These are books, journal articles, interviews, websites on Morrison, audio-visual materials, etc.) Identify passages you can quote, paraphrase, or summarize and use as supporting evidence for the thesis of your essay. These expert sources will support your own voice as you construct your argument.
Use the evidence from the text that you have identified, as well as the additional researched materials you have compiled, to compose a focused, well-organized, academic essay of 5-7 pages, double-spaced. Remember, as stated above, the essay must have an introduction that contains your thesis statement, a body of evidence that supports your thesis, and a conclusion that sums up your main points and restates your position. A basic outline might look like this:
Use and Citation of Sources
The primary source you will need to use for this essay is the novel. You must reference the specific page numbers to which you are referring whenever you quote, summarize, or paraphrase passages from Morrison’s text. This needs to be done in correct APA style.
In addition, you will need to use 5 to 8 additional, secondary sources. You will need to research and include “varied” sources. That is, you will want to use a mix of books, articles, interviews, websites, audio-visual materials, and the like. Make sure to cite these sources correctly, both in the body of your paper and on your APA style reference page.
Your instructor or the online librarian can assist you with this endeavor. Do not hesitate to contact them!
Things to Keep in Mind As You Write