1. You need a variety of different sources to enhance the credibility of your argument. I am requiring that you have about a dozen, from a variety of sources, including the online periodical databases, where you can access scholarly and scientific resources. Only use .com resources if they are mainstream news sources. Always know who has authored your research and whether they and/or the publication are credible.

Use “signal phrases” to alert the reader to the relative value of each source. Here is a list (Links to an external site.) of signal phrases.

2. Outlining:

Your outline is the blueprint of your paper, and it should provide the reader with a clear sense of your argument. In MLA style, you break your paper down into major sections, subsections, and supporting ideas using Roman numerals, capital letters, numbers, and lowercase letters. Here is a sample (Links to an external site.) outline. Note that the thesis is at the top and that the outline references the specific research used in the paper. A simple way to think about this is to imagine the Roman Numerals as the main points of your thesis statement (what, why, how), the capital letters as the topics of each individual paragraph, and the numbers as the details in those paragraphs.

3. Quoting/Paraphrasing/Summarizing:

When you quote, you are copying the exact language as it appears in your research. Why do this? When you are citing a person, such as an expert (an academic, a scientist) or someone well regarded (the leader of an organization), or a publication that is highly respected (such as the New England Journal of Medicine), then using direct quotes can enhance the credibility of your argument. Long quotes (more than four lines) should be avoided, except where the quote is crucial. Long quotes are handled differently in MLA style.

Most sources you can paraphrase or summarize. When you paraphrase, you are simply putting the research into your own words. When you summarize, you are simply condensing a large amount of material into a short space, again in your own words. Paraphrasing and summarizing indicate that you have synthesized the research material into your argument. Most of your research material will be paraphrased and summarized.

In the same paragraph of your paper, you are likely to include all three of these methods.

4 Formatting:

Your paper should be about 15 pages long, not including the outline or title page, but including the Works Cited page. Use 12 point Times New Roman as your font, with one-inch margins and a header on the top right-hand corner of each page with your last name and the page number. Begin numbers with the first page of your actual paper (not the outline). Article titles are placed in “quotes.” Publication titles are placed in italics.

5. Tone and Language:

This is a formal argument, so you are writing in third person and using an elevated level of diction. You may only use first-person if you have personal, specific experience of the topic. Use transition phrases to draw the reader logically through your argument. Here is a list (Links to an external site.) of transition phrases.

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