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Unit 6: Writing Qualitative Research

Roles of the driven 21st-century student:

·         Researcher

·         Technology user and expert

·         Thinker and sense maker

·         World changer

·         Self-teacher

Teacher’s roles as facilitator and partner:

·         Coach and guide

·         Goal setter and questioner

·         Learning designer

·         Context provider

·         Rigor provider and quality assurer

The Research Paper

This assignment will walk you through the process of writing a college level research paper.  Consider this paper the place where you tie together everything you have learned about writing during your time in high school.  Keep in mind that the Final Draft of this paper is worth 250 points in the Summative Assessments category, which represents a significant portion of your grade for the course.  You cannot pass this class if you fail to turn in this project. And keep in mind that if you only do this project, you will also fail.

This is a mountain of work.  Take it step by step and you will climb the mountain!

Topic Requirements

You may choose any topic to write about, as long as it is academic, arguable, and not included on the “forbidden” list.  Keep in mind that this is NOT a report.  For instance, you may not write a paper on the life and history of Jim Morrison. However, you may write a paper arguing that the musical culture of the late 1960s and early 1970s directly influenced public response and reaction to current events and social issues, fundamentally altering American culture.

Make sure you choose a topic that holds your genuine interest.  Since this project will be taking up a vast amount of your time, try to pick something that you honestly care about and want to know more about.  Choosing a topic that inspires and interests you is the first step to producing writing that inspires and interests others.
Please do not write a paper on:

  • Abortion
  • Death penalty
  • Creationism vs. Evolution
  • Attempt to prove or disprove existence of God
  • Argument for or against a religion or religious belief
  • Argument that a person is good or bad
  • Argument for or against a political candidate
  • Topic that may be offensive to a member of our community


Formatting and Citation

This paper must be 5 (min.) – 8 (max.) pages (not including the Works Cited pages and Abstract) and follow all MLA guidelines for format and documentation.  A good deal (20%) of the
Grade relates to MLA and conventions.

This paper requires you to use at least eight sources.  Each source must be checked off with the teacher.  Recommendation: check off as you go to ensure quality and prevent wasting of time.

Five (or more) of your sources must be from available databases such as:
Issues and Controversies - Facts on File
Gale Research – Opposing Viewpoints
EBSCO – Academic Search Premier
Congressional Quarterly
Use the resources linked on our class website (“online resources for students” document)

One (or more) of your sources must come from a book (bound, uses paper, can be held in your hand).

One (or more) of your sources must be a multimedia piece (video, online video, interview, song, etc.).

One (or more) of your sources must come from a legitimate website that is NOT a database.

The research you use will support your thesis and enhance your paper’s credibility, so the sources you use must be evaluated and scrutinized.  Do good research!

Research Proposal (Example)

(Note: This is single spaced to save paper; yours should be double-spaced)

To:      Mr. Corbo/mACY
From:     Student’s Name
Date:    1 April 2010
Subject: CCB Argument proposal

Proposed Research Topic/Subject: [provide a general and brief description of your research or a research question] Are vegan diets healthy and do they positively impact the environment? (example)

Purpose/Preliminary Thesis:  [provide a specific purpose statement that indicates what your topic is and what you are planning to argue.]The vegan diet, contrary to popular belief, provides people with ample protein and vitamins and decreases the risk of heart disease, cancer, and obesity; moreover, adopting a vegan diet sustains the planet by promoting environment-friendly lifestyles. (example)  

Rationale: [Expand on the purpose/thesis by describing the reason why you are arguing this point, what you hope to accomplish with this argument (especially the practical or theoretical benefits to be gained)] This section should be a solid, clear paragraph.

Background/Preliminary Findings:  [After taking some time to thoughtfully explore the topic and its general information, describe the content & context of the preliminary research, making it clear how this context will allow you to accomplish your stated purposes (especially the practical or theoretical benefits to be gained)] This section should be approx. ½ - ¾ of a page long.

Works Consulted: [At a minimum you must list 5 sources (correct MLA formatting is expected) you have read, understand, and can briefly summarize in a couple of sentences. All of these sources should come from databases or books that are available through Evergreen Library.]

Nelson, Robert H. “Tofu Isn’t Just for Tree Huggers Any More.” Vegetarianism (Opposing
     Viewpoints). New York: Greenhaven, 2009. Print.

    Nelson’s advice about nutrition that can be easily gained from tofu or any other bean curd derivative is very valuable. He discusses how we can sustainable promote this crop while limiting land use for cattle grazing, which could be very helpful to  third world countries who need more sustainable methods and higher nutritional value for their dollar.

Source 2: etc.

Classical Rhetoric followed this general plan for an argument

Introduce your issue and capture the attention of your audience. Try using a short narrative/anecdote or a strong example of your issue. Think “Hook.”

Introduces the position you are taking. The thesis occurs at the end of your first introductory paragraph and is responsible for directing what comes next. Remember, it predicts, controls and obligates you as a writer.

Provide a history of the situation, and state how things currently stand. Even if you think the facts speak for themselves, draw attention to those points that are especially important and explain why they are meaningful. Proving YOU know what you’re talking about establishes credibility (develops ethos).

Discuss the reasons why you have taken your position. Provide facts, expert testimony, and any other evidence that supports your claim. This is the logic of your writing (logos).


Show why the arguments of others are not persuasive. Concede any point that has merit but show this concession does not damage your own case. Refutation isn’t always necessary but does make your point stronger if you can do it well.

Summarize the most important points and appeal to the readers’ emotions (pathos).


  1. This plan presumes the audience is prepared to follow a well-reasoned argument.
  2. In other writings it would be ok if you put background information before thesis, but here, we would like it up front, unequivocal and clear.

Research Journal Format & Guidelines

Please use a standard, college-ruled, single subject, spiral-bound notebook if you are writing this by hand OR create a computer document that can serve as your Journal.

Your research Journal will be assessed before your final 5-8 page paper is due. Please follow the following guidelines and format your Journal accordingly. This format should provide you with a good organizational structure in keeping all of your research information together. It’s another important piece of the puzzle of the research picture.

Please follow the format below. All of your research notes, quotes and responses should be placed in your Research Notebook. Preserve everything you believe may help in the creation of your paper. Failure to follow the following format will result in a loss of points!

(Example Journal page)

Source 1:
Trillin, Calvin. “Culture Shopping.” New Yorker. 15 Feb. 1993: 48-51.
(Begin by correctly citing your research source)

Trillin states, “We have become that which we buy. In essence, advertising has turned us into the very products they hope to sell”(50).
(Then begin note-making and preserving your quotes below your correct citation. You must also have in-text citations in your notebook!!)

I guess I can see what Trillin means. There is so much invested in the product name as a point of identity, like wearing an Abercrombie sweatshirt places you in a certain consumer category that is easily recognized when you stand next to someone who is wearing something from BabyPhat, or better yet, a name brand that only Walmart sells.
(Don’t forget that this journal should reflect YOUR THOUGHTS about the information you are learning, where it might work appropriately in your paper, what point will it help to support, and/or alternate ideas that you could use later if you get stuck or need to fill some holes in the paper ~ so feel free to respond personally to your discoveries in the journal).
When you’ve completely exhausted this source’s ideas, move to the next source and repeat the pattern above…

Your Journal is worth 100 points (tasks)! You must complete:
15 pages = A (written) ; 13 pg. (typed, dbl spaced, without giant white spaces!)
12 pages = B (written) ; 11 pg. (typed, dbl spaced, without giant white spaces!)

<10 pages = C or lower (written) - 10 or less pages will probably not be enough to complete a thorough paper; 10 pg. (typed, dbl spaced, without giant white spaces!)

NOTE: “I lost my journal!” in any form will result in a zero (0). Be responsible!

You might consider using a Google document (or similar) to ease access to your journal.

If writing by hand, you are welcome to use the following form to guide your journaling.  A more extensive form with slots for 25 sources is available on our class website.

Research Journal:
Please complete the following for each source you find.  Include quotes from that source and a reaction to the quote.  What does the quote mean to you and how does it make you feel.
Source 1:
Citation: ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Quote: __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

How to Write an Argument in 5 Pages

Introduction – ½ - ¾ page maximum
    This sets the stage for your reader; describes the parameters of the subject (first paragraph) and topic of the paper. Think of the introduction as poking the reader in the shoulder, getting his attention and beginning your story (this is called the “hook”). He’s going to need to know where you’re going to be looking, what particular piece of landscape he should be focusing on and what’s significant about it. You must also tell him how to see it, which is what your thesis is for!

A student once wrote a paper on the Whitehorse Sewage Treatment Plant. In her introduction she told me all about the plant but didn’t tell me whether her perspective was that this thing was a marvel of superior technology or an environmental disaster. Not knowing which she intended meant I didn’t follow her discussion until near the very end. Consequently, I didn’t know her position, and any normal reader would have probably discounted her argument due to confusion.

The moral is don’t withhold anything from your reader. In your thesis statement (located at the end of your opening paragraph), be sure to tell him what the paper is about, what the question is, what your answer to the question is, and the three to four reasons why—briefly (in no more than 1 declarative sentence). The detailed version of the reasons, the discussion, comes in the body. Since it’s the roadmap of your paper, you might find it easier to write it after you’ve finished the rest of your paper.

Think carefully about the title of your paper. It should hint at what your position actually is, point to the subject or topic of the paper, and even some of the limiting factors you’ve placed on your work.

Body – Evidence/Proof/Refutation – 3- 3 ½ pages maximum
    The body represents the detailed version of the reasons, which you mentioned in your introduction, you have for your answer to your question, also often referred to as the discussion. In each of the points you present you must introduce, support and conclude your discussion before moving on to the next. So, simply, the body is devoted to your supporting materials, your narrative and illustrative quotes, and the like.

Note that each paragraph has the same kind of structural elements as your paper: a lead or key statement, development of the idea and any quoted or cited material, and a conclusion or statement linking to the next idea in the next paragraph. This means, in general, that if you end your paragraph without “concluding”, you’ve NOT provided some kind of summary of the point of the quote or a concluding or linking statement!

Conclusion – ¾ to 1 page maximum
    The first paragraph tidies up, summarizes, the argument you’ve made; don’t introduce any new material here. In your second, final paragraph, you can now address the reader as a more educated person. He’s read the paper, followed your train of thought, and so knows what you think. You’re both on the same level now. So tell him what to make of these new ideas you’ve given him. You can use the conclusion to speculate on the usefulness of the new knowledge for other purposes. Try to ensure your last sentence makes some kind of reference to your title or introduction for a nice ring of closure.


Detail now pays off later!
Please note your argument type and thesis at the top of the page.
I.    Introduction
    A.    Background point
    B.    Background point
    C.    Background point
    D.    Thesis
II.    First section (key term/main idea)
    A.    Paragraph level
        1.    Idea level
            a.    Evidence/analysis level (quotes and paraphrases with sources could go here)
                i.    Very specific deatils (quotes and paraphrases with sources could go here)
NOTE:  Any point at a specific level (A/B/C or 1/2/3 or a/b/c, etc.) should be followed by at least one other point at that level.  In other words, if you present an A, a B must follow; if you present an i, a ii must follow.
Spending time on organization of quotes, paraphrases, points, evidence, and analysis NOW will really pay off LATER!
Recommendations on outline composition from Purdue University:
MLA Outline Format:


Based on the many abstracts you have read during your research process, work alone or with a partner to create a working definition of "abstract."  Please include at least five features that should be included plus guidelines for length (number of words), content, and style.

Confirm and discuss this definition with your teacher, and then compose an abstract for your own paper to inlcude with the final draft.

Check off sources with your teacher as you find them.
____    Source #1.  Type:__________________________
    Works Cited Info (do it NOW…save hassle later):

____    Source #2.  Type:__________________________
    Works Cited Info (do it NOW…save hassle later):

____    Source #3.  Type:__________________________
    Works Cited Info (do it NOW…save hassle later):

____    Source #4.  Type:__________________________
    Works Cited Info (do it NOW…save hassle later):

____    Source #5.  Type:__________________________
    Works Cited Info (do it NOW…save hassle later):

____    Source #6.  Type:__________________________
    Works Cited Info (do it NOW…save hassle later):

____    Source #7.  Type:__________________________
    Works Cited Info (do it NOW…save hassle later):

____    Source #8.  Type:__________________________
    Works Cited Info (do it NOW…save hassle later):


You may (and probably should) use more than eight sources!













Please use the following checklist to gather detailed edits on your Draft 2 and/or Draft 3.  You are responsible for having four people (peers, parents, teachers, etc.).  Please identify the focus for each editor by writing at the top of the editing sheet used:

  • Argument strength / true to argument type identified
  • Follows thesis
  • MLA / conventions
  • MLA / conventions


RP Editing Checklist.doc





Summative Assessments:
    ___/60        ___/60        Total score from six traits rubric (print, fill out, attach)
    ___/40        ___/40        Overall impression (quality, argument, details)
    ___/20        ___/20        Effective use of a particular type of argument (see

argument chapter)

Argument type:__________________________

    ___/20        ___/20        Ethos

    ___/20        ___/20        Logos

    ___/20        ___/20        Pathos


    ___/20        ___/20        Abstract


    ___/50        ___/50    Conventions and MLA

    ___/250    ___/250    TOTAL


____ (teacher initial on due date) Research journal part #1 (1st third)

____ (teacher initial on due date) Research journal part #2 (2nd third)

____ (teacher initial on due date) Research journal part #3 (3rd third)

___/100    ___/100    Research journal score (see notes in packet for guidelines) (-15 if late)

___/30        ___/30 Research Proposal (see guidelines in packet) (-5 if late)

40 task points for drafting as identified on six traits rubric

___10        ___/10        Calendar: due dates and times slots for your work

___/10        ___/10        Conversation with teacher about previous paper

Travis Macy,
Apr 9, 2012, 10:15 AM
Travis Macy,
Mar 6, 2012, 10:05 AM
Travis Macy,
Mar 1, 2012, 12:48 PM
Travis Macy,
Mar 1, 2012, 12:58 PM
Travis Macy,
Mar 9, 2012, 8:03 AM
Travis Macy,
Feb 13, 2012, 12:45 PM
Travis Macy,
Mar 15, 2012, 6:47 AM
Travis Macy,
Mar 2, 2012, 12:50 PM
Travis Macy,
Mar 2, 2012, 12:50 PM
Travis Macy,
Feb 13, 2012, 11:11 AM
Travis Macy,
Feb 28, 2012, 1:10 PM
Travis Macy,
Mar 8, 2012, 8:08 AM