Topic: How to find good sources for research papers
July 17, 2019 / By Annice Question:
I have a six-page research paper due in roughly two weeks. For my history class. On Galileo's trial. The research question is, "Who has the stronger argument, Galileo or the Inquisition?" Our one and only source: Finocchiaro's "The Galileo Affair."
I don't need help choosing a side or finding evidence or citing sources. I just don't know how to structure my paper so the argument makes sense and the evidence comes together logically. I can't seem to write a decent thesis and support it without adding a bunch of irrelevant information or summaries. Sure, I have evidence but it's all over the place. And my conclusions and intros are pathetic. Consider yourselves lucky you didn't have to read my last one on Socrates.
I need a way to approach an assignment like this. Foundation. Guideline. Framework. Advice. Something.
I specifically asked the prof if we need to assume that the reader knows nothing about the issue in our papers and she said, since she is the reader, that won't be necessary.
Also, the thesis is supposed to be at the end of the first paragraph. It is our answer to the question (which side we are on) and a condensed version of our reasons for that choice. It is not a list, though.
By the way, Finocchiaro's book is a compilation and translation of letters of correspondence from the main figures involved in the affair, and any other important documents that are relevant. It's the only source we're allowed to use.
bubb1e_gir1 & Vet ~ Have I ever told you how much I love you both? If I haven't, that's due right about now :)
Choosing a best answer really killed me this time. I feel horrible having to decide, which is why I kept putting it off.
I hope no one is offended by my choice because I really really appreciate your help. But if I honestly asked myself which answer helped me the most by giving me more of what I didn't know and specifically needed help with, I'd have to choose . . .
Xan | 1 day ago
I'll be back in a few hours.
But promise that if someone else nails it I'll simply give due credit to them, so don't be worried about "place holding."
add--> Yeah, what Bubb1e_gir1 said. Shucks....
Random advice: Your title should play into your conclusion; your diction and style should match your professor's; you should have at least one citation per paragraph, this sends an unconscious cue to your reader that something important is being said - there is heavy emphasis on the "at least"; if possible, avoid logorrhoea while at the same time embracing all relevant jargon - a good argument will read on multiple levels, and say the same thing on all three; pick a rhetorical strategy (ethos, logos, pathos) that your argument will rest on, but don't neglect the other two if they'll work.
Research, as you seem to know, is really what will make or break an argumentative paper. Outside the literary realm it is alway a smart move to be bold, direct, and to the point (it's a good idea in the literary realm too, but there is a lot of room to play with style) so don't try to be overly fancy. Bubb1e_gir1's setup is great, I think, and her point about a preemptive strike on counter-arguments is dead on, I always do that, it takes some finesse or you seem to wandering, but the extra effort to get it smoothly in there pays off immensely.
edit in response to the additional details---> The only significant change to bubb1e_gir1's suggested format you'll need to make is to cut the paragraph that restates the prompt. The basic format will be the same, but if she emphasized that you are writing for her your argument will need to be more detailed, and thorough. Being limited to one source is laziness on the part of your professor, but you still need to cite at least once per paragraph and I'm sure that will be very easy to do. There is, however, one more thing that will be inevitable, and those are the paragraphs where you won't need to cite anything because they are your own exposition. That's fine, it happens in every paper, but those paragraphs should be in the same tone, and carry the same weight as paragraphs that deal directly with explicating your source. Typography, as you may have seen me mention before in regards to creative writing, will play a key role here - if any paragraph is obviously shorter than the average the reader will get a cue that it's a weak point or argument and a weak point or argument shouldn't even be mentioned ideally. Basically you'll have this:
But you don't need to be slavish about it, if point 1 wraps itself up neatly there will be no need for exposition, if point 2 is very detailed you may have 2 expository paragraphs (though one of them should reference the source briefly), etc.
Remember also that an argumentitive paper should be similar to a funnel, the biggest, strongest, (broadest?) arguments are at the top and it should become progressively more narrow towards the end. The conclusion is important, very important. I don't like the "restate your thesis and argument" approach because it's boring. I think the conclusion should summarize the argument and provide some relatable concept to tie it all up. That's why I say the Title should factor into the conclusion (I usually do it on the very last line), it's like tying a ribbon around a package, but most importantly it's your very last chance to hit the reader with why your argument is obviously right. A powerful conclusion will give your paper a theme, and stick in your reader's mind, because the truth is that most of your paper won't, no matter how well it's written, that's why I recommend the 1 citation gimmick, to make them pay closer attention.
(I had to explicate Robert Frost's The Oven Bird for an American Lit class once. My title was, "It's Not About Chicken" and my last line was something along the lines of, "Regardless of which interpretation one picks, it's pretty obvious that the poem isn't about chicken." Can you guess my thesis? LOL)
At any rate, I think you'll do this just fine if you take any advice from us or not. When ever you run into something that seems like it may be tricky, or get way out of hand, do what I do, use the KISS system - "Keep It Simple, Stupid!" It's saved me several times! :)
(and six pages is pretty short, only about 1500 wds, you'll knock this out of the park!)
add---> (Last time, I promise) When ever you do papers for a class it's important to try and figure out what the professors end game is. Do they want to see if you know how to format MLA? Are they checking to see if you've mastered a concept? Read a book? If you can figure this out, it will make your paper a little more straight forward because you know what you are trying to prove. Here the most obvious thing your prof wants to know is if you've read your source, and understand the situation. If you guys have spent any time discussing rhertorical techniques or argumentative fallacies she'll be looking for an application of that knowledge as well. She probably will also look for you to be able to argue for these arguments given the context of the period too, as opposed to arguing from the perspective of what we know now. Those types of things are a decent place to spend some time thinking during your prewriting.
How 'bout some thing to do with all of the cash the federal government is spending to "retailer" the economic climate. Is it greater to provide the cash to the huge companies or could or not it's greater to only provide it to the folks in order that they might spend it & purchase matters so extra ppl could discover jobs making matters for the ones folks to shop for? Music censorship "sounds" well... however IS there fairly any censorship?...Just being attentive to rap songs could recommend more commonly now not.
Remember back in 9th grade when you had to do those simplistic 5 paragraph essays. You had a topic sentence and then supporting details. Same thing here just on a much grander scale. Remember you are writing an argumentative paper so objectivity is not the key. You'll need to outline your points of argument then defend them. Try this on for size:
Restate the assignment. Assume your audience has no prior knowledge of what or why you are writing. Use this opportunity to give a brief history of Galileo, the Inquisition and Finocchiaro's works. This will be the only objective part of your paper. Be sure to stick to the parts of Galileo and the Inquisition that are applicable. Both of these figures are incredibly complex and you don't want to fluff your paper out. It's always better to write too much and pare it down than to have to try to stuff your paper with wordy sentences and repetitive paragraphs.
Now that the reader knows whats up and has been adequately introduced to the major players you must present your argument. Say you are siding with Galileo. State this here. Be extra careful to cite yourself well. Professors are very experienced with students who present their argument without stating where they got the idea. This need not be a particularly long section. Normally a paragraph tops. You want to keep it concise but (and this is the tricky part) not omit details. The best historians can do this part in a sentence. But I wouldn't suggest trying it. Leave that to the career nerds =)
Argument Support 1...2...3...etc
Now that the reader has the topic and knows what your take is on it you face the heady task of supporting your argument. Carefully select your evidence and supporting details. Present them one by one. Be careful not to intertwine concepts. Finish one completely before moving on to your next supporting argument.
These are very important to the flow of your paper. I suggest writing all your argument supports on index cards, laying them out on the table and finding a pattern. For instance if we were talking about the color of grass being green your argument supports might be as follows:
Color variations between species of grass
It just looks green.
You have four strong argument supports to defend that you think grass is green. You'll want to arrange them in logical order - starting with a strong one, transitioning to the next, putting weaker ones in the middle and ending with the strongest of all. So the order might look like this
Color variations because of species
It just looks green
It looks green because of photosynthesis
A byproduct of photosynthesis is chlorophyll(which is green)
Notice the transitions here. I've taken my points of argument and found how they were related.
Attacking the other side (tactfully)
The best way to win an argument is to know what the other side is going to say. Then you have the opportunity to counter. Going back to our grass.
I started my arguing points with color variations. That would be a huge factor for someone arguing that grass is not green. He would point to the millions of kinds of green - attempting to say that certain variants are not green. So right up front you tackle that one.
You might have thought to start with It just looks green, but if you think about it that is a rather weak point if you are arguing against someone who thinks grass is not green. He is obviously saying it doesn't look green or else you wouldn't have an argument at all.
So logical arrangement of your topics is important. As are transitions to ease the flow. Remember your professor has to read anywhere from 20-400 of these papers. You want yours to be as smooth as possible.
Here you'll want to sum up 6 pages worth of argument, evidence, support, and sources in approximately 1-2 paragraphs. I recommend writing this first. You may have to edit it a bit after you've written the body of the work. But writing this closing first will give you two things 1) something to strive for and 2) a clear concise outline to keep you on track and in order. Your closing will want to mirror the paper but not repeat it. So if you write it first you are not tempted to reuse some of the gems you'll inevitably come up with while detailing your argument.
OK - So I basically just wrote an essay myself but I hope it helps.