Topic: “What are four things about (your topic) that would surprise most people today and why?” Subject: Other Sources: 5 sources required

English 1312
Essay Four
Your second research paper (1500 words) is due by midnight on Wednesday, July 29 (the progress report for quiz
credit where you identify and explain your topic and sources is due by Monday, July 27; listen to audio #2 for
more on that). In the paper you should answer the following question:
“What are four things about (your topic) that would surprise most people today and why?”
Choosing a person of significance to a college discipline would help to guarantee the availability of good sources.
The Encyclopedia Britannica (available in hard-copy in the any library reference room) is a great starting place.
The Britannica is considered the most authoritative general encyclopedia in English. Consulting the article on
your subject will provide you with an excellent bibliography to refer to for sources. Mainly, however, reading the
article will also suggest ideas for topic sentences for your paper (for example, “One of the surprising things about
Benjamin Franklin is his unorthodox religious views,” “One of the surprising things about William Shakespeare is
how many of his plays were written in collaboration with other authors,” “Another surprising thing about
Geoffrey Chaucer is that on his deathbed he retracted all of his secular writings,” “One surprising thing about
Charlie Chaplin is the trouble his political views caused him,” “One surprising thing about Abraham Lincoln is
that during the Civil War he suspended habeas corpus or the right of a jailed person to go to court or to be told
why he has been detained”).
After you find some ideas for your topic sentences, you should follow up by using articles and the index in books
on your subject to learn more about these ideas and start writing the body paragraphs. Each body paragraph
should present one of the four or five surprising things about the topic. Your MLA-format bibliography should
present at least five sources on your topic, all of which you must use in the paper by paraphrasing or quoting from
them (using more sources in this manner is okay). You will also need an introduction and a conclusion for your
paper. You may now use general-audience sources that you obtain through the library gateway (general
periodicals and magazines and more general books). You should not use the raw web sources from a general search
on Google.
Chapters 25 and 26 in the handbook provide important information about in-text documentation, attribution or
signal phrases, quoting, and paraphrasing—all of which will need to be done properly in the paper. Remember,
you are not telling the story of your subject’s life or writing a narrative of an event; you are presenting and
analyzing four or five things about the person’s accomplishments that would surprise most people. Use the sample
paragraphs and sample research papers in this unit as a guide.
Here are some pitfalls to avoid, things that can cost
your paper a good grade:
 Don’t forget to include a correct MLA format
bibliography in proper format (alphabetized
entries double spaced with hanging indents)
 Don’t end up turning in a cut-and-paste paper
mostly made up of long, undigested quotes
 Don’t fail to document with an in-text
parentheses all paraphrased material
 Don’t think of paraphrasing as a just partial
quoting; make sure you use your own words and
your own grammatical structures when
 Don’t over-rely on any one source to the near
exclusion of your other sources
 Don’t look up “surprising things about __” on
the web; it will point you to a low-credibility
source and offer only trivia-type information. Use
sources of higher credibility
Here are some college-level, research-related things
to do that will help you to a good grade:
 Use attribution or signal phrases for all
paraphrased and all quoted material (which means
introduce the source material in your text with a
word or two of explanation and lead-in)
 Use documentation for all paraphrased and
quoted material (which means identify the author
and page number in a parentheses)
 Try to get your sources “talking to each other” in
the same paragraph (which means to find out
what more than one writer has to say about the
same aspect of your topic)
 Proofread to find and correct major sentence

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