Introduction to Research Paper and Topic Selection
Section 1 of 1
The student will understand the benefits and purposes of research papers.
The student will review the details of this research paper assignment.
The student will use questions to select his or her research paper topic.
Why Write Research Papers?
For the past several weeks, we have explored the vast, varied, and unpredictable world of nonfiction. From newspaper articles to memoirs to analytical essays, nonfiction gives us access to a plethora of information. In fact, there is so much information available that it can be hard to sift through it all.
Media literacy, which we went over last week, helps us to tell the difference between helpful, factual nonfiction and misleading, false nonfiction.
In a different way, research papers also give structure and purpose to the indistinguishable swamp of facts about a topic.
Research papers are focused, zoning in on a specific aspect of a topic. They collect only relevant information, provide commentary on that information, and order it in a way that is thorough and helpful.
By writing a research paper, you not only get to do research, but you also get to put your (educated) thoughts into writing. Your voice joins the voices of the many writers who have come before.
For the rest of this module, you will learn how to choose credible sources, cite those sources, and incorporate them into your paper.
Don’t worry! We will go step-by-step through the research process. Even if you think you know how to write a research paper, don’t get in the habit of cutting corners. Read these directions carefully, and follow them.
Ultimately, you are responsible for understanding, implementing, and managing each step of this research paper.
Note: some days, you may have to put in time beyond the daily lessons in order to complete this research paper.
Research Paper Details
This research paper combines literary analysis (examining a work for its literary devices and themes) with informational research.
You will pick 1 poem from the short list of poems included below. Each poem in the list was written as a result of or as a response to a social/political issue. You will do extended research about this issue, the corresponding poem, and its surrounding historical context so that you can address the following items in your research paper:
The historical context of a social/political issue
The author’s position on the issue (as presented in the work)
The modern perception of the issue
The biblical perspective of the issue
As you can see from this list, in this paper you will address a specific social/political issue, touched on in the poem you choose. Some poems might speak to several issues; in that case, you will need to choose one specific issue to focus on.
Here is an example:
Poem: “The Slave Trade” by Hannah More (1788)
Social/Political Issue: The slave trade in 1700s England
Historical context: Throughout the 1700s, the British empire benefitted significantly from the African slave trade. Abolitionists fought hard against this inhumane and un-Christian capture and enslavement of free Africans.
The author’s position: Hannah More was an abolitionist. She expresses disgust for the slave trade, compassion for enslaved peoples, and anger toward their captors.
Modern perception: Although slavery and the African slave trade has long been abolished in Britain, slavery still exists in various forms all over the globe. For example, child slavery and human trafficking continue to be profitable and horrifying industries.
Biblical perspective: Although the Bible often refers to “slaves,” slavery in biblical times was absolutely nothing like the African slave trade or modern iterations of slavery. God’s laws and Jesus’s words of love, kindness, and human dignity totally oppose and condemn slavery as we know it.
As you can see from this example, although you will conduct research on a single issue in a single poem, you will be looking at it from many different angles.
Below are the final details for your research paper:
Your research paper must be 4–6 pages in length. That means four full pages, not three pages with a few lines on the fourth page. This does not include the outline or the works cited page.
You must have a minimum of 6 cited sources. One of those sources must be the original poem.
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