A paragraph to briefly summarize conclusions based on your research findings in the body paragraphs.

Part 1: Abstract (first page) – Page 1

Less than 50 words. Because this is the standard format for abstracts,  complete these three sentences:

Sentence #l: This research paper analyzes xxxxxxx.

Sentence #2: The major findings are xxxxxxxx.

Sentence #3: The recommendations are xxxxxxxxxxxx.

Don’t include direct quotes, examples, etc., in the abstract — just a brief overview of the entire report using precisely these sentences.

Part 2: APA Title Page and Research Paper – Page 2 through 7, 8, 9, 10, or 11

Title page followed by Introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusions/recommendations (See instructions above and below).

Part 3: Reference Page (last page and/or pages) – Page 8, 9, 10, 11 or 12

Use the current APA guidelines for citations and formatting.

Appropriate Sources Only!  Use five to eight sources written only by experts with reputable backgrounds (work experience, education, publishing history, etc.). Don’t use more than three long quotes (more than 40 words). Replace long lists of bullet points with paraphrased summaries. Write at least 85% of the ideas in your own words and sentence structure (paraphrases of sources and your own analysis).

Don’t use informal sources like Wikipedia, About.com, etc.!

The MCC librarians can help you find scholarly sources.

Required Graphics: Include three to five relevant and appropriately sized graphics (ex. photos, pie charts, bar graphs, logos, etc.). Create graphics yourself or borrow them appropriately by following the copyright laws and citing the sources.  Write the source line under the graphic if you borrow it. Explain your research method inside the paragraph if you create the chart, graph, etc., or explain that you took the photo.

  1. The first heading is Introduction.
  2. Use descriptive headings for the body paragraphs.
  3. The last heading is Conclusions (with an s) and Recommendations.

Bold the headings. Capitalize the first word and all keywords that follow. Place the headings against the left margin.


Part 1 – Introduction

After choosing only one of the topics above, set up a focused thesis in the introduction. Include a compelling introductory technique and necessary background information. The introduction may be more than one paragraph.

Include definitions of unique or complex terms, but don’t define common words.

You may include personal opinions and experiences, etc., in the introduction and but not the body paragraphs.

Examples of Introductory Techniques:

  • Anecdote (brief story or example) describing a criminal case in which a body-worn camera captured evidence of excessive force against a profiled victim who was stopped and searched without justification
  • Direct quote from a famous, wealthy novelist who self-published a first novel after receiving many rejection notices from publishers
  • Persuasive statistic exposing how much money private citizens lost when the Government seized their properties and replaced them with public buildings
  • Direct quote about IT billionaires who dropped out of college (ex. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg)
  • Intriguing question that contradicts the thesis you intend to prove about Thomas Jefferson as a slave owner
  • Alarming statistic in a direct quote analyzing the amount of money current retirees have in savings compared to the amount of money experts predict they will need to survive

Thesis Statements: Turn your research question into a focused thesis. Although the Claims + Supporting Reasons thesis is only one way to write a thesis, it does effectively forecast the organization of the body paragraphs that follow.  Therefore, it can be a good choice for second-semester writing students. Here are some ways to use this approach:

Example #1Although [ABC] is preferable to [XYZ] because Reason 1, Reason 2, and Reason 3, there are benefits to [XYZ].

Example #2: Changes should be made to [ABC] because of Reason 1 and Reason 2. However, there are some disadvantages to be considered if these changes are implemented. (A thesis may be more than one sentence.)

Example #3:  Although [ABC] is better than [XYZ] because Reason 1, Reason 2, Reason 3, and Reason 4, a compromise is necessary due to problems that will occur when [ABC] replaces [XYZ].

These examples include both advantages and disadvantages for the two or more options evaluated in your Research Paper. Your writing is more credible when you analyze opposing viewpoints objectively.

Use brief phrases — not complete sentences — for your reasons in your thesis. Those reasons become the focal points of the topic sentences in your body paragraphs.

Your thesis should not be that two or three concepts, positions, etc., are alike and different because this is true of almost anything.

Revise words like similarities and differences in a sentence. Instead, be concrete and specific about why similarities/differences are significant.  Use specific keywords instead of similarities/differences to write your thesis. Example, X is more profitable (or humanitarian, etc.) than Y because of Reason 1, Reason 2, and Reason 3.  As a result, ABC occurs …

The thesis doesn’t have to be the last sentence in the introduction, but that is often a logical location. A thesis can be more than one sentence.

Part 2 – Body Paragraphs

Break the topic into logical sections by writing multiple, unified paragraphs with only one central idea in each of them. Spend time revising the topic sentences that state those central ideas. Position the topic sentences logically. Outline the essay by using an effective organizational structure.

Examples of Organizational Structures:

  • Chronological structure to analyze and compare Jefferson’s, Lincoln’s, and King’s contributions to equality in the United States. Start with the earliest contributions and work up to the 20th century unless it would be more creative to start with the the 20th century and work backward.
  • Comparative alternating-points or block-style structure to analyze the benefits and disadvantages of organic produce versus the less expensive non-organic. (See pages 21-22, W-4b, in the textbook for comparing and contrasting.)
  • Cause-and-effect structure to analyze whether donating money to homeless people on the street creates more problems than it solves. (See pages 19-20, W-4b, and  page 453 in the textbook for using the cause-and-effect strategy.)

Present multiple sides in a fair manner in the body paragraphs by collecting, analyzing, comparing, and evaluating the comprehensive and representative evidence of the SME’s — subject matter experts.

You are not an SME who has scholarly and/or workplace credentials for this topic. An expert for a historical topic might be a professor working at a prestigious university or a Noble Prize winner, whereas an expert for one of the sports topics could be a sports commentator for ESPN or a famous hockey player. When you express your opinion anywhere in the research report, support your claims by referring to the evidence of the experts. Except for the introduction and the final paragraph at the end of the report, avoid emotional opinions that can’t be logically supported.

Write unified paragraphs with only one idea in them. The last sentence in a paragraph should not describe the central idea in the next paragraph. Instead, use brief words or phrases to develop connections between paragraphs.

Part 3 – Conclusions and Recommendations

Start Part 3 with the research findings of the SME’s (subject matter experts) and their recommendations. They may recommend a compromise or promote only one side of the debate.

The Conclusions and Recommendations section must be at least three paragraphs:

  1. A paragraph to briefly summarize conclusions based on your research findings in the body paragraphs.
  2. A paragraph or more to present recommendations based on your conclusions in the previous paragraph.
  3. A paragraph or more to express your own opinions, which may be emotional and/or logical. In this final section, you may present views that differ from the expert opinions and evidence in the rest of the report. You may also discuss how your views evolved or remained the same. There are no right or wrong answers in this concluding section that belongs entirely to you and your own reflections about the topic.

Professional writers often create circular effects by referring back to techniques used in the introduction. If you used a direct quote in the introduction, for example, you may come back to it in a different way in the conclusion.

Examples of Concluding Techniques:

  • Recommendation to have the Federal Government pay for body-worn cameras for local police forces in low-income areas
  • Prediction that graduate degrees for It professionals will be more or less important in the future
  • Warning about the negative consequences of allowing students to carry concealed weapons on campus
  • Hope that the next president will be a female who is well qualified
  • Call to action to suggest writing to political leaders who can vote to eliminate the Government’s power to take property from private citizens

In the entire research paper, your ideas are the focus because you evaluate which evidence to present and present your own opinions in the introduction and final section.