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Pathways English 12: Home

What is a research paper?

A research paper combines the information you learn about a topic while doing research AND your own ideas to prove a thesis statement.

The thesis statement is the main idea of the paper. It is often a point you want to argue or support.

It explains:

  • The main idea of the essay and the writer’s opinion on that idea.
  • Usually one sentence in the paper's introduction.
  • Is a claim that can be argued.

Step 1. Read the assignment - Identify your task

Make sure you understand the assignment and highlight the important requirements. What are you being asked to do? 

Select the theme and the text you would like to work with.

Step 2. Question your topic

Ask yourself:

What do you already know about this topic?

What do I need to find out when I do my research?

Write a list of questions you would like to answer with your research.

Step 3. Pre-research

What information do you need based on your research assignment  and your questions on your topic? 

Gather background information to help you understand your topic better.

 Background information includes basic information on a research topic such as important terms and concepts, relevant names of people or places, and dates of specific events. 

Dictionaries and encyclopedias provide general information that help you better understand your topic.

Answer Who, What, When, How and Where Questions.  The answers to these questions are very important to your research. 

Step 4. What type of sources will you need for background information?

To find numerous definitions for a word or term, use the prompt below to search for a definition in google:   

define: ___________

Example:   define: public hysteria.

To find current news information on a topic in google, limit your your search results to NEWS results.


Researching in Websites

As you gather information from websites, evaluate your sources for relevance, accuracy, authority and bias. Do not use unreliable sources.

Use the attached chart to evaluate your sources.

Step 5. Create a Thesis Statement

It is the MAIN IDEA of your paper.

What is a thesis? It addresses the prompt; it makes a claim or presents an argument and it is an opinion (arguable).

Your thesis statement is NOT a factual sentence. Example: The Crucible had a theme of mass hysteria.

Your thesis is not a question.

A good thesis statement needs to do the following:

  • Focus the main idea of your thesis into one or two sentences
  • Write the answer to the main question of your topic
  • Clearly state your position in relation to the topic
  • Do not state the obvious. Give a disputable stance that requires support or evidence

Look at the information you have gathered so far and the prompt your teacher provided you with for your assignment. How can you turn it into a thesis statement? 

Step 6. Develop keywords for research

Look through your background notes. Underline names, events or important concepts. We will use these words as keywords when we conduct our research.

Look at the keywords you have underlined. What other words could you use to find information on your topic (think of synonyms or related words).

Step 7. Research in Databases

Consider what information you will need to find based on your assignment. Look at your keywords to determine how to begin your search.

We will be starting our research in databases. Research databases are organized collections of computerized information such as periodical articles, books, graphics and multimedia that can be searched to retrieve information. 

Make sure the citation for your source is included on your note taking sheet! You will need this for citing purposes.

What should your Works Cited page look like

1.Begin your Works Cited page on a separate page at the end of your research paper.

2. Title the page Works Cited and center the words Works Cited at the top of the page

  • Only the title should be centered. The citation entries themselves should be aligned with the left margin.

3. Double space all citations. Do not skip spaces between entries. 

3. Indent the second and subsequent lines of citations by 0.5 inches to create a hanging indent.



Works Cited

Dean, Cornelia. "Executive on a Mission: Saving the Planet." The New York Times, 22 May 2007,
 Accessed 29 May 2019.

Ebert, Roger. Review of An Inconvenient TruthEbert Digital, 1 June 2006, Accessed 15 June 2019.

Gowdy, John. "Avoiding Extinction: Toward a Co-Evolutionary Economics of Sustainability." 

       International Journal of Development and World Ecology, vol. 14, no. 1, 2007, pp. 27-36.