Research Paper Guidelines

The research paper is an in-depth exploration of the novel you have been writing about all semester. Like your other papers, this one should be governed by a central claim, an analytical argument about the text. In order to develop and support your claim, you will need to do research. Here are some questions you may want to pursue:

  1. What have others have said about the novel?
  2. Is there a  critical consensus on it? If so, do you agree or disagree with it?
  3.  What comparisons have other critics have found fruitful in analyzing it?
  4. Where does the novel fit within the author’s career? How does comparing it to other novels by the same author affect your reading of it?

Other questions may occur to you as you read around in the critical literature on the novel.

Your project will proceed in stages.

  1. Begin your research. At first, read widely to start answering the questions above.
  2. Begin to develop your own claim. This can still be exploratory at this point—in fact, it may look more like a question than a claim. Some guiding questions at this point might be: ‘what are the sources for this novel?” or “how does knowing more about the author’s other work help me analyze this one?

At this point, you will develop your proposal and annotated bibliography. You may download a sample proposal and annotated bibliography here. Please make sure you have, at the very least, a guiding question and at least 3-5 sources which you have examined. Your annotations should indicate how the source might help you answer your question(s). The proposal and annotated bibliography are due in class, November 15.

When you receive the proposal back from me it may have additional questions for you to ask, or suggestions for further research. You will continue to repeat steps 1 and 2, above, until you have refined your claim into an arguable thesis. (Please see the web pages on crafting strong arguments and working with critical sources and the Writing Center’s resources for writing an English research paper, for help developing your paper.)

Please feel free to continue to consult with me as you develop your argument. Your final paper (8-10 pages) is due no later than 2 pm Monday, December 17.


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