Research Paper General Instructions
Write a 4-6 page argumentative research paper on one of the topics from Master Topics handout. You must use MLA style documentation for your works cited and in-text citations. Your essay should consist of at least three of the following different kinds of sources (all internet sources must come from Galileo):
1 article or essay from a print anthology about the topic
1 newspaper or magazine article
1 website devoted to this topic
1 scholarly journal article
1 government publication (print or electronic)
1 interview with a relevant source
1 film (documentary or otherwise)
For each of these items you will need to provide a proper MLA citation at the end of your work (Works Cited Page)—see the Hodges’ Harbrace Handbook, 17th Edition, for guidance.
Option: The Autobiographical Research Paper
An autobiographical research paper is a text that blends the writer's own experience with scholarly research in order to present an idea, point, or argument about a particular topic. Autobiographical research papers are not common assignments outside of a student's English composition course; however, they are a common form of writing that is frequently found in popular magazines and journals. Therefore, students may be more familiar with autobiographical research writing than they may think.
An autobiographical research paper is very different from a standard project that seeks to present a claim about a specific topic through the use of external sources. In an autobiographical research paper, the majority of the text deals with the writer's own experience. Research is used only to support the author's opinions or clarify his or her experience. For example, an autobiographical research paper may be about a student's experience with a particular place or debatable issue (like Sapleo Island, Georgia or violence on a college campus). Because the project is an autobiographical research paper rather than a standard research paper, much of this paper will discuss events and experiences that happened directly to the student, and recount those events from the point-of-view of the pupil. In other words, the autobiographical research paper will use the first-person voice ("I" and "me"). This is another characteristic of autobiographical articles that sets them apart from standard research papers: in most standard research writing, the use of the first-person voice is discouraged or even forbidden.
The research element of autobiographical research papers is used as support for the student's claims and as validation for his or her recounted experiences. For instance, if the student were writing PCB contamination in the Coosa River Basin, she would not only mention her personal experience, but indicate how her experience compares to others by pointing to research studies citing statistics of contamination. In this way, the writer's own experience becomes not only a personal expression of her individual life, but one instance among many illustrating a trend of discrimination.
The type of research used in autobiographical research papers will likely depend on the topic. For instance, in an autobiographical research paper about traveling in Sapelo Island, Georgia, a student would not incorporate statistical data, but scholarly studies that examine Geechee-Gullah cultural practices. Regardless of what type of research is included, however, it should be used to supplement the writer's own personal experience—not speak for it. As for topics, peruse the list and see if anything relates to your experience. If you still like this option, we can come up with a topic of your own.
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