English 102 Research Paper Templates

Where do I Begin?


This handout provides detailed information about how to write research papers including discussing research papers as a genre, choosing topics, and finding sources.

Contributors: Jack Raymond Baker, Allen Brizee, Ashley Velázquez
Last Edited: 2018-02-14 04:24:26

There is neither template nor shortcut for writing a research paper; again, the process is, amongst other things, one of practice, experience, and organization, and begins with the student properly understanding the assignment at hand.

As many college students know, the writer may find himself composing three quite different research papers for three quite different courses all at the same time in a single semester. Each of these papers may have varying page lengths, guidelines, and expectations.

Therefore, in order for a student to become an experienced researcher and writer, she must not only pay particular attention to the genre, topic, and audience, but must also become skilled in researching, outlining, drafting, and revising.


For a discussion of where to begin one's research, see Research: Overview.


Outlining is an integral part of the process of writing. For a detailed discussion see Developing an Outline .


Drafting is one of the last stages in the process of writing a research paper. No drafting should take place without a research question or thesis statement; otherwise, the student will find himself writing without a purpose or direction. Think of the research question or thesis statement as a compass. The research the student has completed is a vast sea of information through which he must navigate; without a compass, the student will be tossed aimlessly about by the waves of sources. In the end, he might discover the Americas (though the journey will be much longer than needed), or—and what is more likely—he will sink.

For some helpful ideas concerning the initial stages of writing, see Starting the Writing Process .

Revising, Editing, Proofreading

Revising is the process consisting of:

  • Major, sweeping, changes to the various drafts of a project
  • An evaluation of word choice throughout the project
  • The removal paragraphs and sometimes, quite painfully, complete pages of text
  • Rethinking the whole project and reworking it as needed

Editing is a process interested in the general appearance of a text, and includes the following:

  • Analysis of the consistency of tone and voice throughout the project
  • Correction of minor errors in mechanics and typography
  • Evaluation of the logical flow of thought between paragraphs and major ideas

This process is best completed toward the final stages of the project, since much of what is written early on is bound to change anyway.

Proofreading is the final stage in the writing process, and consists of a detailed final reread in order to find any mistakes that may have been overlooked in the previous revisions.

For a discussion of proofreading, see Proofreading Your Writing .

Welcome to English 102, taught by Davis Oldham. This page contains links to all the documents I will be passing out in class this quarter.

Documents are organized according to the assignments with which they are associated. Right up front are course policies and links for help with writing.

Please let me know if you find any problems with this site.

  1. Course Policies and Information
  2. Help with Writing
  3. Course Theme
  4. Preliminary Research Report
  5. 10 Sources
  6. Literature Review
  7. Sentence Outline
  8. Research Paper
  9. Extra Credit Assignment

Course Policies and Information

  • Syllabus (PDF)
  • Grade Guideline, showing what grades mean to me.
  • Expectations of students and professor
  • Tutorial on deciphering your assignment, a good introduction to reading and understanding instructions, which is vital for success in college.
  • Paper Format for all essays
  • Sex/Gender Discrimination Shoreline Community College is committed to providing all students with a learning environment that is safe, supportive, and free from discrimination. Any form of sexual discrimination�sexual harassment, sexual assault, relationship violence, or gender-based stalking�is a violation of Title IX (part of federal education law), and it must be reported. Title IX makes it clear that violence and harassment based on sex and gender is a Civil Rights offense subject to the same kinds of accountability and the same kinds of support applied to offenses against other protected categories such as race, national origin, etc. As your instructor, I have a mandatory reporting responsibility, and I am required by law to share with the College any information regarding sexual misconduct. For more information about Title IX, you can go to the SCC Title IX website. You can also contact Yvonne Terrell-Powell, Title IX Deputy Coordinator, at (206) 546-4559, or the Dean of Students, Kim Thompson, at (206) 546-4641.� If you would like to talk with someone in a confidential setting, please contact Counseling Services (206-546-4559).
  • Inclement Weather Policy


Help with Writing

  • Quotation Mechanics Describes some of the basic rules for including a quotation in a sentence.
  • Why Peer Review
    Every paper you write will be reviewed by at least one of your classmates. My reasons for doing this are explained in this document.
  • Avoiding Plagiarism One simple rule to avoid worlds of pain.
  • Western Oregon University's template on "voice markers," a PDF file that lists many common signal phrases for introducing or identifying another author's words or ideas included in your own writing.
  • Academic Phrase Bank at Manchester (UK) University. A comprehensive guide to the �nuts and bolts� of academic phraseology, covering such areas as how to introduce someone else�s work, referring to sources, describing methods, reporting results, and discussing findings; also general functions such as being critical, being cautious (i.e. how to introduce a source you have doubts about), comparing and contrasting, and many more.
  • These Writing Links comprise an entire page of links to helpful advice on key writing issues. Specifically, you can jump to any of these topics:
    1. Sentence Boundaries
    2. Paragraph Structure
    3. Thesis Statements
    4. Transitions, including Introductions and Conclusions
    5. Concision
    6. Sentence Variety
    7. Quotations
    8. Research
  • The Writing and Learning Studio (TWLS)
    TWLS provides instructional handouts and texts, a comfortable study environment, and drop–in tutoring for students in any discipline who want to work on college reading strategies, study skills, research papers, essays, or other kinds of writing assignments. Additionally, TWLS offers variable credit courses and workshops on topics such as note–taking, memory improvement, research writing, test–taking, and grammar.


Course Theme

Currently the theme for the class is Social Movements. You can read more about the theme here.


Preliminary Research Report

  • Preliminary Research Report Instructions (PDF file) These are the official instructions for the assignment. Your grade will be based on how well your work follows these instructions. All of the following samples are in PDF format.
    • Paper outline This shows the organization your Preliminary Research Report should follow.
    • Sample paper with callouts showing the various required elements of the assignment.
    • Sample outlines developed in class, showing in detail what each section of the paper should cover (class notes from April 14, 2011).
    • Questions about the assignment, with my answers (class notes from April 15, 2011).
  • First Search: Instructions for Friday of week 1.
  • Principles of Citation (PDF)
  • Who are you and what are you doing here? by Mark Edmundson. This 2011 article from Oxford American poses a fundamental challenge to college students about the reasons they are attending college. Your job is to read it, think about the questions it poses, and write a page on how your research topic relates to those questions. Here is a more detailed explanation of the assignment.
  • The Shoreline Community College Library, which will be your first stop for doing research: finding sources, citing sources, and getting help.
  • Research Lib Guide by Shoreline librarian Claire Murata. A tour through the basics of doing research.
  • UW’s Research 101 Topics tutorial (PDF).
  • Prewriting Strategies (required) from the University of Kansas Writing Center (optional).
  • Developing a Research Question
  • What is a Thesis


10 Sources

This is the first formal bibliography, or works cited list, you will submit. It can still change, but you must submit a list of at least 10 sources relevant to your topic at this time. See below for detailed instructions.

  • 10 Sources These are the official instructions for the assignment. Your grade will be based on how well your work follows these instructions.
  • Preparing to Search
  • Sources and Databases Class notes from January 28, 2013, listing types of sources and common databases used in searching (PDF).
  • Search Strategy Worksheet (PDF file)
  • UW's Research 101 Tutorial on searching (PDF)
  • Search Techniques
  • Types of Sources (PDF file)
  • The IRIS tutorials at Clark College are an excellent introduction to research process and resources. These two are especially relevant here:
  • Scholarly Source checklist (PDF file)
  • Searching WITH Sources
  • Refining Your Search
  • Skimming Sources
  • Content Notes
  • Research Guidelines: Notetaking, from Hunter College Reading and Writing Center, City University of New York
  • Taking Notes from Research Reading, from University of Toronto Writing web pages
  • Taking Purposeful Research Notes from the Landmark School in Prides Crossing, Massachusetts (PDF). A good system for keeping your notes organized. I think they make some unsupportable claims for their method, when they say that they've eliminated the problem of having to (re-)organize after taking notes. You often don't know what the subtopics are until you've taken your notes and played around with various possible ways of organizing information and ideas. Also, this seems geared toward a shorter and simpler sort of paper than students write in 102--more a report than a persuasive argument based on research. That said, however, I think the method is a good one.


Literature Review


Sentence Outline


Research Paper

  • Research Paper Instructions (PDF file) These are the official instructions for the assignment. Your grade will be based on how well your work follows these instructions.
  • Drafting the Research Paper
    • Developing a Topic—notes on how to expand a too-short research paper.
    • Paragraph structure Description and illustration of basic elements of paragraph structure, with a sample paragraph color-coded to show how the parts relate to each other (PDF file).
  • Principles of Citation (PDF)
  • WOU's template on "voice markers," a PDF file that lists many common signal phrases for introducing or identifying another author's words or ideas included in your own writing.
  • Incorporating References (required), from the University of Kansas Writing Center (optional).
  • MLA Citation guides. These will give you the basics on how to format your in-text citations and works cited page:
    • The MLA guide from Shoreline Community College–a helpful, color-coded, step-by-step guide to formatting citations correctly.
    • The MLA page at the Purdue OWL (Online Writing Lab)
  • Quotation Mechanics Describes some of the basic rules for including a quotation in a sentence.
  • Plagiarism: What It is and How to Recognize and Avoid It (required), one of the Writing Guides (optional) at Indiana University.
  • Plagiarism Pages (all 5 pages are required--see the menu at the left) at the Purdue Online Writing Lab (optional)
  • Plagiarism, eh? How to recognize it and get it out of your life (optional). A Power-Point-style video: text plus a voice reading the text. You can find the original Powerpoint file here (requires Powerpoint or another program that can read .ppt files).
  • Research Paper Peer Review I Instructions
  • Research Paper Peer Review II Instructions
  • A sample research paper. This is a final draft of a strong paper—not perfect, but very well done. (PDF)
    • A sample paragraph, revised to show how it can be re-organized and enhanced with transitional devices to give it greater coherence (PDF).


Extra Credit Assignment

You have the option of earning extra credit worth up to 5% of the final grade by writing an extra credit assignment. You can also earn a little extra credit, worth the equivalent of two homework assignments (approximately 1%), by doing some work to prepare for this assignment.

Here are detailed instructions for each assignment:


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