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Drafting the Research Paper

Overall Structure for the Research Paper:

Argumentative Paper Format

The Introduction

Once you’ve decided what your thesis is going to be, you must be able to frame it in a manner that provides an effective entry into your work. No matter how great your argument is, it will not do much good if no one is enticed into reading it. The two most important functions of your introduction are to serve as a grabber (a stylish, creative lead-up to what you’re trying to say) and as justification (an explanation of why your argument is even important in the first place).

1.  Hook

A “hook” is usually an anecdote, universal question or interesting quotes that inspires an emotional response from the reader. It should be used to get their interest.  After the hook, the writer should make a connection between the hook and the topic of the paper.

2.  Comments, and background

Comments and background give a history or some information regarding the topic.

·         Give historical context to your paper

·         Explain/describe the debate of the persuasive paper

·         Explain the importance/relevance of the topic

**DO NOT use your body paragraph topics in your introduction

3.  Thesis Statement

A thesis statement is the last sentence in the introduction paragraph and it is the main controlling idea of the entire paper.
Some Basic Guidelines
DON’T summarize – Though it might seem easy to preface your thesis with only a synopsis of the texts you’re writing about, this is a particularly dull way to begin a paper. DON’T keep repeating your thesis – Your thesis should appear in your introduction as the culmination of the previous thoughts, not just something you mention and then keep restating to fill up a paragraph.
DO ask yourself questions – Why is your thesis relevant? How is its being proven important to the understanding of either text or fact? By linking your argument to a larger issue, you will give your argument both universality and interest. DO be creative – Think about what aspect of your topic you find the most interesting, and figure out why. Use this to make it interesting to your reader.
Handouts for the Introduction
Elements of a Good Introduction Introductions structure with practice

Formatting an introduction

Introduction comparison

Practice analyzing introductions for strength

Youtube video on introductions for a research paper  Youtube video on introductions for literary analysis



Body Paragraphs

A body paragraph is a group of related sentences about a particular topic or idea directly relating to the thesis.  Because essays are composed of multiple body paragraphs, writing and organizing good paragraphs is one of the most important aspects of creating a well-organized and developed essay.

Structure of the Body Paragraph

Topic Sentences

The topic sentence is the first sentence in the body paragraph and shows a direct connection to the thesis through anaphora.

Research, quotes, concrete evidence

****Quotes should be analytical or critical, statistics or study, FACTS, or scholarly research on your topic.  Quotes should prove some aspect of your thesis.  Research quotes are NOT personal stories or someone’s opinions.  You should NOT just have quotes that define – rather have quotes that analyze some aspect of your topic.  Do NOT use quotes for random information just to say you have used quotes.  If your quote is not necessary to PROVE some aspect of your thesis, it is unnecessary.****

A research paper should have research.  There are usually 2-3 quotes per body paragraph.  Quotes should be cited and should support the topic sentence.

In a literary analysis, quotes will come from the literature being analyzed and by other literary critics that support your topic sentence.

Supporting details

Supporting details explain, argue, and examine the research.  They also draw out the writer’s ideas and connect ideas in order to support the topic sentence and the thesis statement.

Concluding sentence with transitions

Concluding sentences wrap up the ideas in the paragraph.  In persuasive research papers, concluding sentences may have the call to action.  They also often contain transition words to connect to the next paragraph.
Handouts and Websites for the Body Paragraph: Strong Body Paragraphs
body paragraphs WritingBodyParagraphsResearchPaper
Body Paragraph Outline – to practice  Body Paragraph Handout
Youtube video for writing a body paragraph Purdue OWL on Body Paragraphs



Conclusions wrap up what you have been discussing in your paper. After moving from general to specific information in the introduction and body paragraphs, your conclusion should begin pulling back into more general information that restates the main points of your argument. Conclusions may also call for action or overview future possible research.

Structure of the Conclusion

·         Restate your topic and why it is important

·         Restate your thesis

·         Address opposing viewpoints and explain why readers should agree with your thesis

·         Call to action or overview future research possibilities

Handouts and Websites for Conclusion Paragraph:
Conclusions with transition words  Conclusions graphic organizer
Writing An Effective Conclusion WRITING A CONCLUSION
 University of Wisconsin on Conclusions  Youtube video for Conclusions


Notes on Rough Drafts
1.    No first or second person pronouns (I, me, my, we, our, mine, you/your, etc)
2.   Do NOT write your sentences like you are lecturing the reader or having a conversation with the reader.  You are presenting factual information, and being persuasive, NOT lecturing the reader on how to act.
3.   Organize the research paper based on the thesis statement.
4.   The thesis statement is the last sentence in the introduction.


5.   Direct quotes should have quotation marks at the beginning and the end of the quote.
6.   All quotes (summary, direct, and paraphrased) are followed by a parenthetical citation.
7.  Quotes should be sandwiched – with an introduction explaining where the quote is from and/or who stated the quote AND an explanation of how the quote proves the thesis statement.
8.  Do NOT string quotes together, one after another.  There should be explanations between quotes. You should give details and examples from the quotes.
9.  Have paragraphs. There should be the structure of an introduction, several body paragraphs, and a conclusion.
10.  Paragraphs should start with a topic sentence, not a quote.  Topic sentences should directly derive from the thesis statement.
11. Paragraphs should end with a concluding sentence, not a quote.
12.  The in-text citations should match the entries on the Works Cited.  There should be no sources on the Works Cited that are not in the paper, and there should be no sources in the paper that are not on the Works Cited.
13. Use hard research – statistics, numbers, PROOF of statements.  Where are the surveys, polls, analysis – hard research means numbers.


Words/Phrases that should never be in a Formal Research Paper (or Literary Analysis)

good Bad stuff Things
A lot lots Gonna/wanna Nice
mean In my opinion/I think This paper is about/In this paper, I will discuss/ or any other version Throughout history/A long, long time ago
Back in the day/Since the world began/Since the start of mankind u/wuz/i/any texting abbreviations ANY symbols (examples: & or w/ or btw or b/t) First person: I, me, my, mine, we, us, our, ours,
Second person: you, your, you’re, yours  kid


Sample Research Papers


Student Sample RP 1 Student Sample RP 2 Student Sample RP 3

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