Good essays generally combine the above elements and are not merely descriptive.
What research writing is not:
A string of quotations.
A personal essay with no research basis.
Entirely theoretical with no research basis.
A paper which uses information which is not documented correctly, i.e. plagiarised.
Choosing your topic:
Thesis vs. topic
Topic and Thesis:
All good research writing has a clearly identifiable thesis.
A topic provides you with something to talk about, a thesis makes a significant and specific statement about a subject.
A topic therefore is general, whereas a thesis is specific.
This is the backbone of your essay. You should be able to state your thesis precisely in 1 or 2 lines for any shorter essay. TS should be clear from your introduction. Should express an opinion or attitude toward the topic chosen.
Should include your thesis statement and briefly mention the points you intend to cover.
Should catch the reader’s attention.
Should briefly reiterate your argument or main points.
Do not introduce new issues in the final paragraph.
Do not make apologies for what you haven’t done or simply state what you have achieved.
Make connections between paragraphs smoother by using suitable transition words.
Title page—includes your name, the title of your paper, the course name, the lecturer’s name, date of submission and word count
Page number—pages should always be numbered
Line spacing—1.5 or double spacing should be followed throughout
Margins—Use reasonable margins, headers and footers, your work will be judged on the basis of what you have written not the number of pages you have filled.
Paragraphs—Clearly mark paragraph breaks by either indenting or leaving a line break. Every paragraph should have a topic sentence and be appropriately developed. Like the overall essay, paragraphs should consist of a beginning, some development and a conclusion or link to the next point you intend to make. Paragraphs consist of a minimum of three sentences.
Proofreading Always proofread your work. Do not trust computer spelling and grammar checks absolutely.
If you use material from another source you must cite it correctly, if you do not you will be guilty of plagiarism. Use of source material may involve direct quotation, paraphrasing or summary. Do not read about your topic, use other’s ideas and then claim you were ‘inspired.’ Keep account of the material you have used to learn about your chosen topic, take accurate notes or make photocopies so that you will be able to cite correctly. You will always need the following information about a source – a) author’s name b) full title of text c) publisher, place of publication and year of publication d) whether you have taken the author’s exact words or have paraphrased.
Paraphrase, Summary, Direct Quotations – remember all these must be referenced.
Use EITHER double OR single quotation marks for direct quotations. Do not use italics.
Context – avoid dropping in cited material without giving a context. Usually an introductory tag i.e Shakespeare states that “….” or According to …. is stylistically preferable to an abandoned quote or paraphrase.
Short quotations of poetry – when quoting a brief extract from a poem in the text of a paragraph, indicate the line breaks by using a slash (/).
Block quotations – if you quote more than three lines of a text it is customary to format as follows:
The Modern Languages Association (MLA) provides one of the most accessible models of referencing. You should follow this precisely. The following information is taken from http://www.aresearchguide.com/8firstfo.html#1 and is readily available on the internet elsewhere.
Detailed Footnotes and Endnotes are needed only for sources cited for the first time. When citing the same work more than once, it is no longer fashionable to use ibid. or op cit., current trend is to use short title or author's last name instead (see below, item 23).
When using in the text of your essay the title of a book or the title of a text, a chapter or an article from a book, same rules regarding the use of italics or quotation marks apply as those for footnotes.
1. Book with one author or editor
2. Book with two authors or editors 3. Book with three or more authors or editors 4. Book with no author or editor stated 5. Book that has been translated 6. Article in a collection by several authors, with an editor 7. Article from an encyclopedia with no author stated 8. Article from an encyclopedia with one author 9. Article from a magazine, journal, or newspaper with no author stated 10. Article from a magazine, journal, or newspaper with one or more authors or editors 11. Pamphlet or brochure with no author stated 12. Book, product, or software review 13. Government document 14. Interview 15. Film or video recording 16. Audio recording 17. Television or radio 18. Computer software or CD-ROM 19. Internet 20. Reference to Shakespeare 21. Reference from the Bible, Catechism, or Sacred Texts 22. Citations for a single work throughout essay 23. Sources used more than once 1. Book with one author or editor:
1 Frank Feather, Canada's Best Careers Guide 2000 (Los Angeles: Warwick, 2000) 152-3.
2. Book with two authors or editors:
2 R.D. Hogg and Michael G. Mallin, Preparing Your Income Tax Returns: 2001 Edition for 2000 Returns (Toronto: CCH Canadian, 2001) 969.
2 Andrew Cohen and J.L. Granatstein, eds. Trudeau's Shadow: The Life and Legacy of Pierre Elliott Trudeau (Toronto: Random, 1998) 391.
3. Book with three or more authors or editors:
3 Jack Canfield, et al., Chicken Soup for the Kid's Soul:101 Stories of Courage, Hope and Laughter (Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications, 1998) 68.
3 Mans O. Larsson, et al., eds. Let's Go: Germany 1998 (New York: St. Martin's, 1998) 96-98.
4. Book with no author or editor stated:
4 Microsoft PowerPoint Version 2002 Step by Step, (Redmond, WA: Perspection, 2001) 235.
5. Book that has been translated:
5 Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, trans. M. Moyaart-Doubleday (Toronto: Bantam, 1993) 95.
6. Article in a collection by several authors, with an editor:
6 Carmen DaSilva, "Life Insurance as a Tool for Estate Planning," Death and Taxes: Beating One of the Two Certainties in Life, ed. Jerry White (Los Angeles: Warwick, 1998) 57-71.
7. Article from an encyclopedia with no author stated:
7 "Malcolm X," Encyclopedia of Social Issues, 1997 ed.
8. Article from an encyclopedia with one author:
8 Lawrence A. Presley, "DNA Fingerprinting," World Book Encyclopedia, 2000 ed.
9. Article from a magazine, journal, or newspaper with no author stated:
9 "Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Life and Legacy Celebrated across U.S. during National Holiday," Jet 11 Feb. 2002: 4+.
9 "Tobacco Companies to Anti-Smokers: Butt Out," Maclean's 26 Aug. 2002: 12.
9 "New Chips Aimed at Wireless Market," Toronto Star 19 Feb. 2002: C5.
10. Article from a magazine, journal, or newspaper with one or more authors or editors:
10 Jonathan Alter and Geoffrey Gagnon, "The Future of New York," Newsweek 9 Sept. 2002: 50+.
10 Chris Wood, "Gold Diggers of 2002," Maclean's 26 Aug. 2002: 36-37.
10 Tim Gray, et al., "Softwood Lumber: Let's Stop Blaming the U.S.," Globe and Mail [Toronto] 19 Feb. 2002: A19.
11. Pamphlet, with no author stated:
Note: First date = Web page creation or modification date. Second date = the date you accessed the Web page. If the Web page does not have a modification or creation date, leave it out, but always indicate your access date just before the URL.
19 Canada, Indian and Northern Affairs, "Aboriginal Peoples Survey: From APS I to APS II." Facts from Stats, Corporate Information Management Directorate, Issue No. 15, Mar. 2000, 8 Oct. 2001 .
19 James Henretta, et al., "Richard Allen and African-American Identity," America's History, Spring 1997, 8 Oct. 2001 .
19 "Edsitement, 10 May 2002, 12 May 2002 .
20. Reference to Shakespeare:
(Shakespeare's plays are cited with Roman capitals for the Act, small Roman numerals for the Scene, and Arabic numerals for the Lines).
20 Hamlet IV, i, 15-18.
In-text Footnotes or Endnotes are also appropriate in an essay on a single Shakespearean play:
20 Lear sums up his whole tragedy when he says, "I am a man more sinned against than sinning." (III, ii, 57)
21. Reference from the Bible, Catechism, or Sacred Texts:
Example in text:
An interesting reference was made to the picking of corn on the Sabbath.1
Example of Footnote citation, long form:
1 Matthew 12:1-8.
Example of Footnote citation, short form:
1 Mt 12:1-8.
Example in text:
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that "Because of its common origin the human race forms a unity, for 'from one ancestor [God] made all nations to inhabit the whole earth.'" 2
Example of first Footnote or Endnote citation of the above quote taken from Catechism of the Catholic Church, Part I, Section 2, Chapter 1, Article 1, Paragraph 6I, Reference Number: 360, Page 103, would be:
2 Catechism of the Catholic Church (New York: Doubleday, 1994) 360.
Subsequent citation of the same quote:
3 Catechism, 360.
Citation of a different quote from the same book:
4 Catechism, 1499.
22. Citations for a single work throughout essay:
If the entire essay is about one book, e.g. Carrie only and there are no other sources used, a Footnote or Endnote is needed only for the first quotation as follows:
Stephen King, Carrie (New York: New American, 1974) 40.
All subsequent quotations are from this edition.
After this, it is only necessary to supply the page number of the text:
Sheriff Otis Doyle testified that Miss Snell told him that "Carrie did it. Carrie did it." (198)
2. When two or more books by the same author are used as reference material, or there are sources by two or more authors with the same last name, include the short title or an abbreviated form of the title:
Bibliography Sometimes for a longer piece of work a bibliography is also required. Entries should always be listed in alphabetically order according to the author’s surname. The following information is available at http://www.aresearchguide.com/12biblio.html
1. Book with one author or editor 2. Book with two authors or editors 3. Book with three authors or editors 4. Book with more than three authors or editors 5. Book with compilers and editors 6. Book with no author or editor stated 7. Book with one author, translated by another 8. Work in an anthology, a collection by several authors, with one or more editors and/or compilers 9. Article in an encyclopedia with no author stated
10. Article in an encyclopedia with an author 11. Article in a magazine, journal, periodical, newsletter, or newspaper with no author stated 12. Article in a magazine, journal, periodical, newsletter, or newspaper with one or more authors 13. Article from SIRS (Social Issues Resources Series) 14. Booklet, pamphlet, or brochure with no author stated 15. Booklet, pamphlet, or brochure with an author 16. Book review 17. Government publication 18. Cassette Tape Recording 19. CD-ROM 20. Computer service, e.g. BRS, DIALOG, MEAD, etc. 21. Computer software 22. Film, Movie 23. Internet 24. Interview 25. Letter 26. Map or Chart 27. Performance (ballet, concert, musical, opera, play, theatrical performance) 28. Radio 29. Recording - Music CD, LP, magnetic tape 30. Television 31. Videocassette 32. Advertisement 33. Definition from a dictionary
1. Book with one author or editor:
Barrett, Andrea. Servants of the Map. New York: Norton, 2002.
2. Book with two authors or editors:
Bolman, Lee G., and Terrence E. Deal. Leading with Soul: An Uncommon Journeyof Spirit. New and Rev. ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2001.
3. Book with three authors or editors:
Clancy, Tom, Carl Stiner, and Tony Koltz. Shadow Warriors: Inside the Special Forces. New York: Putnam, 2002.
4. Book with more than three authors or editors:
You have a choice of listing all the authors or editors in the order as they appear on the title page of the book, or you may use "et al." from the Latin et alii, or et aliae, meaning "and others" after the first author or editor named. A book written by Ken Blanchard, Sheldon Bowles, Don Carew and Eunice Parisi-Carew, for example, may be listed under the first named author: Blanchard, Kenneth H., et al.
Blanchard, Kenneth H., et al. High Five! The Magic of Working Together. New York: Harper, 2001.
Hogan, David J., et al., eds. The Holocaust Chronicle: A History in Words and Pictures. Lincolnwood, IL: Publications International, 2000.
5. Book with compilers and editors:
McClay, John B., and Wendy L. Matthews, comps. and eds. Corpus Juris Humorous:A Compilation of Outrageous, Unusual, Infamous and Witty Judicial Opinionsfrom 1256 A.D. to the Present. New York: Barnes, 1994.
6. Book with no author or editor stated:
Maclean's Canada's Century: An Illustrated History of the People and Eventsthat Shaped Our Identity. Toronto: Key Porter, 1999.
7. Book with one author, translated by another:
Muller, Melissa. Anne Frank: The Biography. Translated by Rita and Robert Kimber. New York: Metropolitan, 1998.
8. Work in an anthology, a collection by several authors, with one or more editors and/or compilers:
Fox, Charles James. "Liberty Is Order, Liberty Is Strength." What Is a Man? 3,000 Years of Wisdom on the Art of Manly Virtue. Ed. Waller R. Newell. New York: Harper, 2001. 306-7.
9. Article in an encyclopedia with no author stated:
"Nazi Party." New Encyclopaedia Britannica. 1997 ed.
10. Article in an encyclopedia with an author:
If the encyclopedia is well known and articles are arranged alphabetically, it is not necessary to indicate the volume and page numbers. But if the encyclopedia is not well known, you must give full publication information including author, title of article, title of encyclopedia, name of editor or edition, number of volumes in the set, place of publication, publisher and year of publication.
Kibby, Michael W. "Dyslexia." World Book Encyclopedia. 2000 ed.
Midge, T. "Powwows." Encyclopedia of North American Indians. Ed. D.L. Birchfield.11 vols. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 1997.
11. Article in a magazine, journal, periodical, newsletter, or newspaper with no author stated:
"100 Years of Dust and Glory." Popular Mechanics Sept. 2001: 70-75.
12. Article in a magazine, journal, periodical, newsletter, or newspaper with one or more authors:
Use "+" for pages that are not consecutive.
Example: When numbering pages, use "24-25" if page numbers are consecutive. Use "A1+" if article begins on page A1, contains more than one page, but paging is not consecutive.
Note also that there is no period after the month. The period in "Mar." is for the abbreviation of March. If there are 4 or less letters in the month, e.g. May, June, and July, the months are not abbreviated. For instance, if the publication date is June 17, 2002, citation will be 17 June 2002.
Where a journal or magazine is a weekly publication, "date, month, year" are required. Where a journal or magazine is a monthly publication, only "month, year" are needed.
Where a newspaper title does not indicate the location of publication, add the city of publication between square brackets, e.g. National Post [Toronto]. Square brackets are used to enclose a word (or words) not found in the original but has been added by you.
Barnes, Dan. "'Justice' for Canadian Skaters: IOC Awards Second Gold to Canada's Salé, Pelletier." Ottawa Citizen 16 Feb. 2002: A1+.
Cave, Andrew. "Microsoft and Sun Settle Java Battle." Daily Telegraph [London] 25 Jan. 2001: 36.
13. Article from SIRS (Social Issues Resources Series):
Example from SIRS:
Bluestone, Barry, and Irving Bluestone. "Workers (and Managers) of the World Unite." Technology Review Nov./Dec. 1992: 30-40. Reprinted in WORK. (Boca Raton, FL: Social Issues Resource Series, 1992), Article No. 20.
Example in MLA style:
Bluestone, Barry, and Irving Bluestone. "Workers (and Managers) of the World Unite." Technology Review Nov./Dec. 1992: 30-40. Work. Ed. Eleanor Goldstein. Vol. 5. Boca Raton: SIRS, 1992. Art. 20.
14. Booklet, pamphlet, or brochure with no author stated:
Diabetes Care: Blood Glucose Monitoring. Burnaby, BC: LifeScan Canada, 1997.
15. Booklet, pamphlet, or brochure with an author:
Lee, I. Creating Your Own Web Site: A Crash Course for Beginners. Mississauga, ON: Dufferin-Peel CDSB, Summer Institute, 2001.
16. Book review:
May use short forms: Rev. (Review), Ed. (Edition, Editor, or Edited), Comp. (Compiled, Compiler).
Groskop, Viv. "Chinese Torture - at Five." Rev. of The Binding Chair by Kathryn Harrison. International Express, Canadian ed. 6 June 2000: 37.
Hoffman, Michael J. "Huck's Ironic Circle." Rev. of The Adventures of HuckleberryFinn by Mark Twain. In Modern Critical Interpretations of Mark Twain'sAdventures of Huckleberry Finn ed. by Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea, 1986, 31-44.
17. Government publication:
Cite government document in the following order if no author is stated: 1) Government, 2) Agency, 3) Title of publication, underlined, 4) Place of publication, 5) Publisher, 6) Date.
Canada. Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. Gathering Strength:Canada's Aboriginal Action Plan. Ottawa: Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada, 2000.
United States. National Council on Disability. Carrying on the Good Fight -Summary Paper from Think Tank 2000 - Advancing the Civil and Human Rights of People with Disabilities from Diverse Cultures. Washington: GPO, 2000.
Note: GPO = Government Printing Office in Washington, DC which publishes most of the U.S. federal government documents.
18. Cassette Tape Recording:
Covey, Stephen R. Living the 7 Habits: Applications and Insights. Cassette tape recording read by author. New York: Simon, Audio Div., 1995. 1 hr. 30 min.
Ginger. Solid Ground. Cassette tape recording from album Far Out. SPRO003. Vancouver: Nettwerk, 1994. 3 min. 47 sec.
LeBlanc, Susan and Cameron MacKeen. "Racism and the Landfill." Chronicle-Herald 7 Mar. 1992: B1. CD-ROM. SIRS 1993 Ethnic Groups. Vol. 4. Art. 42.
20. Computer service - e.g. BRS, DIALOG, MEAD, etc.:
Landler, Mark. "Can U.S. Companies Even Get a Bonjour?" New York Times, Late Ed. - Final Ed., 1. 2 Oct. 1995. DIALOG File 472, item 03072065197653951002.
21. Computer software:
ThinkPad ACP Patch for ThinkPad 600, 770, and 770E. IBM Vers. 1.0. IBM, 1998. 3.5" disk.
22. Film, Movie:
Short forms may be used, e.g. dir. (directed by), narr. (narrated by), perf. (performers), prod. (produced by), writ. (written by). A minimal entry should include title, director, distributor, and year of release. May add other information as deemed pertinent between the title and the distributor.
Hannibal. Dir. Ridley Scott. Prod. Dino De Laurentiis, Martha De Laurentiis, and Ridley Scott. Screenplay David Mamet and Steven Zaillian. Music Hans Zimmer. Perf. Anthony Hopkins and Julianne Moore. MGM and Universal, 2000.
Titanic. Dir., writ., prod., ed. James Cameron. Prod. Jon Landau. Twentieth Century Fox and Paramount, 1997.
1) Author. 2) "Title of Article, Web page or site" in quotation marks. 3) Title of Magazine, Journal, Newspaper, Newsletter, Book, Encyclopedia, or Project, underlined. 4) Editor of Project. 5) Indicate type of material, e.g. advertisement, cartoon, clipart, electronic card, interview, map, online posting, photograph, working paper, etc. if not obvious. 6) Date of article, of Web page or site creation, revision, posting, last update, or date last modified. 7) Group, association, name of forum, sponsor responsible for Web page or Web site. 8) Access date (the date you accessed the Web page or site). 9) An exception is made in referencing a personal e-mail message where an individual's e-mail address is omitted for privacy reasons.
Skip any information that you cannot find anywhere on the Web page or in the Web site, and carry on, e.g. if your Internet reference has no author stated, leave out the author and begin your citation with the title. Always put your access date just before the URL which is placed between "less than" and "greater than" signs at the end of the citation. Generally, a minimum of three items are required for an Internet citation: Title, Access Date, and URL.
If the URL is too long for a line, divide the URL where it creates the least ambiguity and confusion, e.g. do not divide a domain name and end with a period such as geocities. Do not divide a term in the URL that is made up of combined words e.g. SchoolHouseRock. Never add a hyphen at the end of the line to indicate syllabical word division unless the hyphen is actually found in the original URL. Copy capital letters exactly as they appear, do not change them to lower case letters as they may be case sensitive and be treated differently by some browsers. Remember that the purpose of indicating the URL is for readers to be able to access the Web page. Accuracy and clarity are essential.
Internet citation for an advertisement:
"What is Dry Eye?" TheraTears. Advertisement. 2001. 8 Sept. 2002
Internet citation for an article from an online encyclopedia:
Duiker, William J. "Ho Chi Minh." Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2000. 1997-2000. Microsoft Corporation. 26 Sept. 2001 .
Internet citation for an article from an online magazine, journal, periodical, newsletter, or newspaper with no author stated:
Longin, Helmut. President. Industry Union of Austria. Vice-President. Association of Austrian Industrialists. Telephone interview. 25 June 2002.
Published letter in a collection.
Twain, Mark. "Banned in Concord. Letter to Charles L. Webster." 18 Mar. 1885. Letter 850318 of Mark Twain. Ed. Jim Zwick. 1995-2001. 27 Nov. 2001
A letter you received from John Smith.
Smith, John. Letter to the author. 27 Nov. 2001.
26. Map or Chart:
Treat citation as if it is a book with no author stated. Indicate if the citation is for a chart or a map.
2001 Andex Chart for Canadian Investors. Chart. Windsor, ON: Andex Associates Inc., 2001.
27. Performance: (ballet, concert, musical, opera, play, theatrical performance)
The Hobbit. By J.R.R. Tolkien. Dir. Kim Selody. Perf. Herbie Barnes, Michael Simpson, and Chris Heyerdahl. Living Arts Centre, Mississauga, ON. 20 Apr. 2002.
Basic Black. Host. Arthur Black. Exec. Prod. Chris Straw. CBC, Vancouver. 8 Feb. 1996.
29. Recording - Music CD, LP, magnetic tape:
Name of author, composer, singer, or editor. Title of song (in quotation marks). Title of recording (underlined). Publication medium (LP, CD, magnetic tape, etc.). Edition, release, or version. Place of publication: Publisher, Date of publication. If citing from Internet, see Item 23 above.
Backstreet Boys. Larger than Life. Millennium. CD. Exclusive Management by The Firm, Los Angeles, CA. Mastered by Tom Coyne, Sterling Sound, NYC. Zomba, 1999.
Law and Order. Prod. Wolf Film in assoc. with Universal Television. NBC Television Network. WHEC, Rochester, NY. 25 Feb. 1998.
Jane Austen's Emma. Videocassette. Meridian Broadcasting. New York: New Video Group, 1996. Color. 107 min.
Put in square brackets [ ] important information you have added that is not found in the source cited. To cite an advertisement found on the Internet, see Item 23 above.
"Now the Left Hand Knows What the Right Hands Are Doing." Microsoft. Advertisement. eWeek. 17 June 2002: 24-25.
33. Definition from a dictionary:
When citing a definition from a dictionary, add the abbreviation Def. after the word. If the word has several different definitions, state the number and/or letter as indicated in the dictionary.
"Mug." Def. 2. The New Lexicon Webster's Encyclopedic Dictionary of the English Language. Canadian ed. 1988.