In this module , students will learn the basics of researched writing. So far in this course, you have been asked to write about yourself or about issues and people you know enough about so that no further research was needed. However, in many college courses and in many professional fields, you will be asked to do research on some topic or other, and to write a fairly formal document about that topic. In college, that is the traditional research paper. Such a piece of writing differs from personally-focused essays in a basic way: Instead of writing about yourself, you are writing about another piece of writing (or several). The two types of writing can be combined, but they do differ in several key ways, the most obvious way being that such writing calls for the inclusion of direct quotes from the source.
ENGL 1302 is the course which teaches the full skill-set about how to do such writing about other writing. However, in some fields, students are no longer required to take 1302, so Module 3 in this course gives you the basics of such writing. This course does not require a full-scale research paper, but instead keeps things fairly simple, in what is called “directed research.” In this assignment, everyone is directed to the same online article. Everyone must write about this same article. In brief, you will read the article, make some choices which will become your three body paragraphs (and thus your three thesis supports), and then ultimately, you will write the usual five-paragraph essay, in which you will begin with an intro paragraph, then three body paragraphs, then a concluding paragraph. In this essay, you will include direct quotes from the online article in each body paragraph, but you will also talk about yourself in each one, at least briefly. Thus, this essay will combine the two types of writing: writing about yourself, writing about another piece of writing. In this module, you will, along the way, learn how to effectively use direct quotes, and how to cite your source using what is called MLA citation format.
Here are the steps for this essay. NOTE: You will NOT immediately write the essay from these instructions. Instead, as before, you will first do some preliminary assignments, the key one being a partial rough draft, as before.
STEP ONE: Read the article. The article you must read is from The Washington Post, in an online version. The article’s title is ‘What Unites Us?” It is a group of dozens of interviews of average Americans, each of whom was asked to comment on various core values, beliefs, and concerns which taken together, unite us as Americans. The many interviews were then grouped into seven categories, each one reflecting one core value or concern. Each student will need to read the article, to gain early familiarity with it.
To go to the required reading to read it yourself, click on this web address below (you will be referring to the article repeatedly as you pick supports, choose quotes, etc.):
STEP TWO: Pick three of the seven categories; these are your three supports. As noted, the article is arranged into seven categories of interviews, each category reflecting one major core value, belief, or concern of many Americans. The whole point of the article is that despite the deeply polarized state of our country, these seven core values still serve to unite us. For your essay, then, write a thesis sentence which says something about unity. Then for the three thesis supports, you will need to choose THREE of the seven core values presented in the article. These will be previewed in your intro paragraph as you know how to do, and ultimately, you will write a separate body paragraph on each of these three values. (NOTE: for the background information to start your intro, you will name the article and its source (The Washington Post), and briefly describe it in your own words, similar to how this was done above.) When you have read the article so you can briefly name and describe it, when you have written your thesis, and when you have chosen three of the seven core values as your thesis supports, you are ready to write your intro paragraph.
STEP THREE: Eventually, you will write a separate body paragraph about each chosen value which you previewed in your intro. As before, you will include the first of these body paragraphs in your partial draft, then write the other two (plus a concluding paragraph) when you complete the essay final draft. In each body paragraph, you will need to include these elements, which roughly follow the three-part writing format. These elements have been numbered below, but of course you will not; you will do these things together, as one rather long paragraph:
In a topic sentence which should begin with transition wording, name the core belief the paragraph will discuss.
In your own words, describe this belief in several sentences–at least one, no more than three. This is the general explanation of the support.
Next you will need to include a series of THREE direct quotes. Each one must come from a different person interviewed in the article, but of course all three must be from that category of the article (the chosen core value). You will learn how to effectively include direct quotes, and how to cite the source, as we go through the module. NOTE: In writing about another piece of writing, directly quoting from a source is a type of specific example, though very different from a real-life story, the type of specific example you have been using. When you quote directly from another piece of writing, you are not merely telling the reader what it says, what it is about; you are showing that.
Next, you will include a brief, real-life story about yourself or someone you know. The best will be about yourself; the point here is to draw a personal connection between yourself and the core value discussed in the paragraph. This can be perhaps three or four sentences long, possibly longer–not just one or two sentences, however. Thus, your body paragraph will include BOTH types of specific examples: a series of quotes, and a brief personal story.
Lastly, you will write a concluding sentence, commenting on the core value and perhaps on your own connection to it.
Initially, you will write the first of these three body paragraphs and then stop, submitting it plus your intro as a partial draft. Ultimately, of course, you will write two more such paragraphs, giving a separate body paragraph to each of the three core values you chose. WARNING: You must NOT write about all three core values in the same single body paragraph! That is not work which can pass!
STEP FOUR: As we go through the module, you will learn how to use MLA format to cite the source you are writing about. In brief, this will include what is called a brief parenthetical citation which comes after each quote, and then a more detailed Work Cited entry at the end of your essay.
STEP FIVE: As always, after any needed revision or expansion, you will need to carefully proofread your essay before submitting. This will of course apply first to the two-paragraph partial draft, then to the completed final draft.