In essence, the research paper is a longer, documented interpretative paper because all literary essays involve the task of interpretation on some level. For our project, you must interpret a poem or a group of poems, a play, or a novel in the syllabus. You could focus on a theme, a character, or a literary technique. Study carefully Chapter 53 in The Bedford Introduction of Literature (1694-1710). Make sure you follow the following points:
1. Your research paper needs to be 5-6 pages long (about 1500-1800 words) on the topic that you propose in the proposal, which must be approved by the instructor. If you change your topic after your original one has been approved, you need to do a new proposal for the new topic.
2. The research paper must have an introduction, several body paragraphs (say 5-7), and a conclusion. The introduction must have a lead-in, a thesis, and justification for your topic, and any background information.
3. Each of your body paragraphs should begin with a topic sentence, which states the main idea of the paragraph. The topic sentence is usually not a narrative or descriptive statement, but an assertion of an idea or position. Transitional devices are needed between paragraphs. All your paragraphs should be organized to support the thesis in the introduction.
4. At least three (3) published sources are needed in order for the paper to be evaluated properly. The lack of sources is considered an indication of insufficient research and will seriously affect the quality of your paper. The sources can be newspaper articles, magazine articles, journals, or books. Avoid personal websites or other untrustworthy sources. Examples of good sources include book reviews and author interviews in The New York Times Book Review, biographies and criticism in Contemporary Authors, articles in professional journals such as PLMA, Twentieth-Century Literature, World Literature, and MELUS.
5. Quote sparingly and prepare your quotes. Summarize relevant ideas into concise sentences whenever possible and document them. Do not use footnotes; use only in-text parenthetical citations.
6. All papers should have a separate Works Cited page at the end. See the example on page 1710 of The Bedford Introduction of Literature, 11th ed.
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