Your research paper will be more interesting to both you and your audience if you base it on an intellectually challenging line of inquiry; in other words: craft a unique perspective. Remember that you need to make sure that your research is grounded, and NOT speculative. Although speculation naturally occurs in research, you should not base an entire essay on speculation. The central argument should be grounded in evidence, NOT personal beliefs or opinion; “Is it wrong to value beauty?” is too opinionated in style. Perhaps, “Is the emphasis on beauty creating unhealthy expectations in young people?”
Provoke thoughtful debate: Instead of “Is the focus on ‘beauty and appearance’ bad?” perhaps you instead ask: “Is the focus on materialism, including the cosmetic, fashion, and plastic surgery industries, affecting cultural norms and values?”; If the initial question is too broad, then you need to look for ways to restrict your focus.
First, identify the topic and discuss the controversy surrounding your topic. Also, discuss why you chose this particular topic and why you find it interesting.
Discuss how do you think the paper is going to look. What will the shape of your paper be? Basically, this section should be a brief outline in prose form. Show me exactly what you’re planning on discussing.
Describe your research strategy. Where are you finding your information, and how are you going to use it? What are you finding, and, conversely, what are you not? Where else are you going to look?
Always begin your research with your topic in mind. Next, go to the library for sources so you can narrow the topic. If you are not sure where to start, ask a librarian.
Do not use anything that is out of date (anything more than five years old may be considered as such); when in doubt, ask me! Academic journals are especially useful. Many of these can be accessed through Expanded Academic. You may use newspapers and respectable magazines (e.g., New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor, Washington Post, Entertainment Weekly, The Rolling Stone, Art journals/mags), but try to keep your research to academic-specific sources, like the databases and journals (Opposing Viewpoints is always a winner!)
Essentially, just talk about what you’re going to research, and the “how” and “why.”
Works Cited Page
The last page of your proposal should be the Works Cited page of a research paper. It should be doubled-spaced and alphabetized. However, there is one important difference. The bibliography page should include every source that you have consulted, including sources that are not necessarily mentioned in your proposal.
If you want extra credit, submit a rough works cited page. Caveat: it must be properly formatted!
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