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How to format and document a research paper using MLA Guidelines

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Presentation on theme: "How to format and document a research paper using MLA Guidelines"— Presentation transcript:

1 How to format and document a research paper using MLA Guidelines

2 Agenda Choosing and narrowing a topic Formulating a working thesis
Planning What do you already know? What do you need to know? Gathering and processing sources Note-taking Creating Works Cited entries Formatting an MLA paper Internal documentation with MLA

3 Step 1: Choosing & Narrowing a Topic
How to know what to write…

4 Choosing a Topic Carefully take notes as your instructor describes the writing assignment Ideally, you’ll have a written assignment to which you can refer at various points to make sure you’re on track Consider what type of paper it is: Informative? Persuasive? Consider the writing mode that will work best? This might be a part of the assignment Look/listen for keywords: analyze, compare, give examples, discuss cause or effect, form an argument, etc.

5 Keep on the Straight & Narrow
Slavery in the US Addiction US Economy Terrorism The “Middle Passage” and the conditions during the Slave Trade Physical and emotional effects of alcoholism on the individual Explore the development of the Economic Stimulus Plan of 2009 Analyze the Patriot Act of 2001 as a response to the 9/11 terror attacks Too Broad Just Right!

6 Step 2: Formulating a Working Thesis
Don’t leave home without one!

7 Tips for Writing a Thesis from Purdue University’s OWL
1.Determine what kind of paper you are writing: An analytical paper breaks down an issue or an idea into its component parts, evaluates the issue or idea, and presents this breakdown and evaluation to the audience. An expository (explanatory) paper explains something to the audience. An argumentative paper makes a claim about a topic and justifies this claim with specific evidence. The claim could be an opinion, a policy proposal, an evaluation, a cause-and-effect statement, or an interpretation. The goal of the argumentative paper is to convince the audience that the claim is true based on the evidence provided. 2. Your thesis statement should be specific—it should cover only what you will discuss in your paper and should be supported with specific evidence. 3. The thesis statement usually appears at the end of the first paragraph of a paper. 4. Your topic may change as you write, so you may need to revise your thesis statement to reflect exactly what you have discussed in the paper.

8 Things to Avoid… “In this paper, I will discuss…”
Generalities: “Baseball is a great sport.” Personal Preferences: “Bill Clinton is my favorite American President.” Oversimplification: “All drugs should be legalized immediately.” Too narrow a focus: “My street has twelve potholes that the city won’t fix.”

9 What a Thesis Should Do…
Contains a Topic & the Controlling Idea Bad: Baseball is a great sport. My mom is unique. Good: Baseball is America’s favorite pastime because of exciting players, the strategies employed, and the ballpark food. Everyone’s mom is special, but mine is a gourmet cook, a humanitarian, and a prize-winning photographer. A good thesis predicts the order and acts as a road map for the reader.

10 Step 3: Planning What do you already know? What do you need to know?

11 Planning It is important to consider what you already know about the topic. Make notes Sketch out a rough outline of what you think you’ll need to cover Next is finding out more. Where are the gaps in your own knowledge? Is this a controversial topic about which people might not agree? If so, how can you be sure you’re getting the whole story and not just one side?

12 Part 4: Research Gathering & Processing the Information Gathered from Sources

13 Where to Start Our impulse says, “First stop, GOOGLE!”
The internet can be useful, especially for familiarizing yourself with a topic you might not know a lot about It is not, however, the best place to gather information for an academic research paper All libraries, both public and those attached to a school have several better avenues for researching when you’re writing a paper for class: Books and Databases

14 Books Search the LSCC Library Catalog for books on your topic
When searching books, use the most general topic term first and then narrow if you have too many results: For example: “Alcoholism” is a better first search than “Physical Effects of Alcoholism” Many of the Library’s holdings are e-books and can be accessed from the comfort of your own home (just like the internet!)

15 Databases For most papers that you will write in level classes, the following LSCC Databases are likely to be perfect: Academic Search Complete General One File Opposing Viewpoints Encyclopedia Britannica …just to name a few! There are also specialized databases in many fields including Psychology, Education, Nursing, Literature, etc.

16 Searching a Database If you search the term “alcoholism” in Academic Search Complete, even limiting yourself to a “full-text” only search, you will get more “hits” than you can handle. When searching a database, you can start with more specific terms and then broaden if you’re not finding what you need. Most importantly, if you are struggling to find resources, DO NOT SUFFER ALONE! Contact an LSCC Librarian, and ask for help!

17 Taking Notes Stay organized!
Keep track of what information comes from what source. Track the following information: Author Titles of Articles and Books Editors of Anthologies City, Publisher, and Year for Books Journal/Magazine Title Volume, Issue, Date info for Periodicals Database for Any Electronic Resource Date Accessed for Any Electronic Resource For Web Sources, the Publisher (usually an organization)

18 Note-taking & Avoiding Plagiarism
If you are using the source’s exact words, make a point of it in your notes If you are paraphrasing, follow these simple guidelines: Read the passage carefully several times Look away from the source Write down the idea you’re wanting to capture Check against the source to make sure not only the wording is different, but the sentence structure as well Put quotes around key phrases or terms that you cannot paraphrase

19 Part 5: Creating Works Cited Entries
Do NOT wait until the paper is written. You need the Works Cited entries to create the internal citations.

20 Tools Make sure you’re using up to date information Handbooks
MLA changes editions periodically, so you want to make sure the version you’re using is the latest Handbooks Ideally, you will own an updated Handbook for as long as you’re in college, but if you don’t have one, every library does! LSCC Library How to Cite Sources on the Library’s website contains up to date information you can access online Websites There are plenty of websites offering Citation Generation, and many of them are accurate; however, if you do not know how to do them yourself, you may have a false sense of security. Word of Warning: do NOT use MS Word’s tools for help with MLA format or documentation!

21 Why not wait until I’m done?
The internal citations showing where you are quoting or paraphrasing research are dependent upon what comes first in the works cited entry, so you need to do them first. Here are some examples of works cited entries and the parenthetical citations you would use with them…

22 Smith, John. A Great Book. New York: Great Publishers, 2006. Print.
(Smith 78) would indicate a paraphrase or quote from p. 78 of Smith’s book. Sling Blade. Dir. Billy Bob Thornton. Miramax Home Entertainment, DVD. (Sling Blade): a quote/paraphrase from the movie. “About Us.” American Red Cross. American Red Cross, Web. 3 Nov (“About”): something from the webpage. Triggs, Charlotte, Lesley Messer, and Elyse Roth. "Ready To Fight Cancer." People (2011): Academic Search Complete. Web. 3 Nov (Triggs), (Triggs 69), or (Triggs, par. 4) depending on format.

23 Special Case: Anthologies
Many academic books, including most textbooks, are collections of writings by various authors with an overall editor or editing team When citing an anthology, you need to cite the specific reading not the book as a whole: Mason, Bobbie Ann. “Shiloh.” Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama and Writing. 11th ed. Eds. X.J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. New York: Pearson Longman, Print. If citing more than one reading from the same anthology, refer to a current handbook

24 Part 6: Formatting an MLA Paper
Does the format really matter? YES! 

25 Basic Rules Plain double spacing for everything in an MLA paper (including title, works cited, quotes, etc.) No cover page Header contains page # and student’s last name on the right margin First page information includes student’s name, instructor’s last name, class, and date submitted Works cited page comes at the end but is part of the same document Margins are 1” all around, a “standard font in a standard size” (typically Times New Roman in 12 pt. or Arial in 11 pt.)

26 How to format an MLA paper using MS Word…
Video 1) How to format an MLA paper: Video 2) How to format a Works Cited page:

27 Part 6: Internal Citations with MLA
Parenthetical citations: what goes in them? Where do they go? Being open and clear about your sources.

28 Why do I have to cite things?
Academic writing involves letting the reader know where the information comes from by using a standardized system Even non-academic writing lets the reader know, usually, when something was not the writer’s own knowledge For example, if People magazine publishes an interview with George Clooney, they will tell you when the words spoken are Clooney’s

29 Clarity & Credibility Even in academic writing where parenthetical citations are used to indicate the source, writers often overtly mention their sources for clarity and to add credibility to their papers For example, you might find the following statement introducing a source to be quoted in a paper: A recent study by Dr. Jim Johnson at Johns Hopkins University indicates… Giving the full name and affiliation not only makes it clear where the information comes from, it highlights the fact that this is a good source

30 Mentioning Sources This is all the more reason to do quality research
Wouldn’t you rather say, “In a recent New York Times article…” than, “According to Wikipedia…”? Once a source is established, you can alter how you mention it to avoid repetition: Pam Jordan’s article entitled “Dogs are Therapeutic”… Jordan’s article in Dog Fancy… Jordan says… “Dogs are Therapeutic” offers…

31 Parenthetical Citations
Following any paraphrase or quote of source material, a parenthetical citation appears to tell the reader which of the sources on the works cited page contained this information A parenthetical citation at the end of a quote shows the entire quote came from that source A parenthetical citation alone at the end of the last sentence of a paragraph does not signal that the whole paragraph is from that source

32 What Goes Inside the ()? MLA prefers author’s last names and page numbers: (Smith 79) (Smith and Jones 122) (Smith, Jones, and White 10) (Smith et al 32)—4 or more authors If you’ve just used the author’s name, you don’t need to repeat it: Rachel Smith and Terrence Jones argue that stress is a leading cause of depression (122). Note the placement of the period after the citation

33 What if There is No Author?
Return to the works cited entry and note what comes first: Dorothy Gale utters that famous phrase: “There’s no place like home” (Wizard of Oz). The American Cross’ website tells about the history of the organization (“About”). Again, if you’ve just mentioned it, then the page number alone will suffice for a citation: “Time for a Change,” a recent editorial in The Orlando Sentinel discusses the need for stricter legislation (B7). A recent editorial in The Orlando Sentinel discussion the need for stricter legislation (“Time” B7).

34 What About Non-Print Sources?
Electronic books will still have page numbers, so even these non-print sources can be done the favored MLA way. Articles obtained from Library databases such as Academic Search Complete, General OneFile, or Opposing Viewpoints (to name only a few) may still offer the researcher the original pagination if you access the “PDF” format of the article. If you cannot determine the original pagination, however…

35 Sources without Page Numbers
Using the paragraph number is a good option for internet sources and articles in HTML format from Library databases: (Smith, par. 7) (Wilson, par. 89) (“About Us,” par. 3) If no paragraph numbers are provided, then the author or title alone will do: (Smith) (“About Us”)

36 When Would NO Citation Appear?
If you are citing an electronic resource with no pagination available and you have provided the name or title already and the information does not go beyond the sentence or quote you’ve introduced, then you would have no citation: In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy utters the famous phrase, “There’s no place like home.” The Red Cross’ “About Us” page details its long history.

37 Special Cases When writing about poetry, you cite by the line number rather than the page number: In “Mother to Son,” the speaker proclaims: “Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair” (Hughes, line 2). After the first citation, the “line” is dropped: Hughes’ speaker tells her son, “Don’t you set down on the steps / ‘Cause you finds it’s kinder hard” (15-16). In plays that are divided by Act and Scene, you would indicate it thus: One of the most quoted passages from Shakespeare is, "All the world's a stage, / And all the men and women merely players" ( ).

38 When to Cite? Any idea or wording not your own must be cited
Whenever possible, you want to paraphrase rather than quote (with the exception of literary works), and it’s best to avoid a lot of long quotes Note: quotations over 4 lines will be in “block format”: separated from the rest of the paragraph and indented a full inch on the left. Refer to a current handbook for samples and formatting information.

39 Clarity is Key What is actually cited in the paragraph below?
Dorothy Gale learns a valuable lesson in The Wizard of Oz. She had wanted to escape, to run away from what she viewed as a hard life. In the end, however, she learns that “there’s no place like home” (Wizard of Oz). Only the quote is cited This is appropriate since the previous sentences are interpretive

40 Clarity is Key What is actually cited in the paragraph below?
The Pug has been around since before 400 BC. Research shows a connection to Asia and a similarity to the Pekinese. Tibeten monks kept Pugs in their temples, and Prince William II brought the popularity Pugs to England when he became King (“AKC”). Only the last sentence is cited This is a problem since the previous sentences also came from the same source This is a simple fix…

41 Clarity is Key What is actually cited in the paragraph below?
According to the American Kennel Club’s website, the Pug has been around since before 400 BC. Research shows a connection to Asia and a similarity to the Pekinese. Tibeten monks kept Pugs in their temples, and Prince William II brought the popularity Pugs to England when he became King (“AKC”). Note that the source is mentioned in the first sentence It is now clear that all 3 sentences come from this source The information is “sandwiched” between the mention of the website and the citation

42 For More Help… LSCC’s Library and Learning Center offer Online and Live help with paper writing and documentation There are also a number of great websites with advice, most famously, perhaps, is the OWL (Online Writing Lab) created by Purdue University The main thing to remember is there’s nothing wrong with asking for help!

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