Topic Name Description
Course Introduction Page Course Syllabus
Page Course Terms of Use
1.1.1: Academic Research Writing Page Steven D. Krause's "The Process of Research Writing - Academic Research Writing: What Is It?"

Read this article, which provides a quick overview of the form, components, and purpose of a research paper.

1.1.2: Why Write a Research Paper? URL Writing for Success: "Chapter 11, Section 1: The Purpose of Research Writing"

Read this section and complete the exercises, which will help you identify the reasons for writing a research paper and will outline the steps you must complete in order to complete a research project.

1.1.3: How to Manage a Research Project URL Writing for Success: "Chapter 11, Section 3: Managing Your Research Project"

Read this section and complete the exercises, which will help you identify the reasons for writing a research paper and will outline the steps you must complete in order to complete a research project.

1.2.1: The Research Process: An Overview URL Cornell University Library: "The Seven Steps of the Research Process"

Read this article, which introduces you to the research process and includes how to identify and develop your topic, find and evaluate background information (including sources, periodical articles, and Internet resources), and appropriately cite your sources.

Several of the resources linked to through these pages are available only to students and staff at Cornell University. However, you should be able to use the general catalog information at any library. If you do not have online access to a college or university library, explore your local library's website for information about online access. A librarian at your local library may also be able to help you gain online access or answer questions about how to use their resources.

1.2.2: What Is Your Research Community? Page Dr. Pavel Zemliansky's "Analyze Your Discourse Communities"

Complete this activity. After you complete this activity, you will begin to see knowledge-making as a social process. You should also begin to notice the differences that exist in ways that different groups of people use language, reading, and writing.

Page Dr. Pavel Zemliansky's "Methods of Discovery: A Guide to Research Writing - Chapter 6: Research Writing in the Academic Disciplines"

Read this chapter, which provides an overview of research writing and will help you understand why strong, evidence-based writing is essential for success in academic writing. Dr. Zemliansky explains how different communities work together to develop and revise ideas through research. By identifying your research community, you can help identify important research in your field and write more convincingly to members of that community. Take notes carefully.

1.2.3: Identifying and Understanding Your Audience Page The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Writing Center: "Audience"

Read this handout for a review of identifying, analyzing, and appealing to your writing audience.

Page Texas A&M University Writing Center: "Audience Awareness"

Read this essay on audience awareness for a good refresher on the importance of identifying, reaching out to, and addressing your audience in your writing.

1.2.4: Understanding Your Audience and Purpose Page Dr. Pavel Zemliansky's "Methods of Discovery: A Guide to Research Writing - Chapter 1: Research Writing and Argument"

This chapter discusses rhetorical writing, which is writing that makes an argument as persuasively as possible by understanding and analyzing the readers or audience and then writing in a way that the audience finds convincing.

1.2.5: Purpose, Audience, Tone, and Content URL Writing for Success: "Chapter 6, Section 1: Purpose, Audience, Tone, and Content"

Read this section and complete the exercises, which will get you thinking about how audience and purpose affects your writing. This section describes how purpose and audience should influence the tone and content of your writing.

1.3.1: Discovering and Choosing a Topic Page Activity: Identify Your Research Topic

After completing the reading for this subunit, identify a preliminary topic for your research paper by stating your topic idea as a question and then identifying the main concepts or key words. You will have time to revise and refine your topic later.

Although you may work through this course completely independently, you may find it helpful to connect with other Saylor students about this activity through the discussion forums. You may access the discussion forums here.

1.3.2: Develop a Working Thesis and a Research Proposal URL Writing for Success: "Chapter 11, Section 2: Steps in Developing a Research Proposal"

Read this section and complete the exercises. This section will provide you with a slightly different approach to developing a research topic and will describe how to develop research questions and a proposal that will help you guide your research.

After reading this text, go back to your research topic, refine your topic as necessary, develop your research questions, and develop a short research proposal.

Page Activity: Develop a Working Thesis

Use your refined research topic and synthesize the research questions you developed in this subunit in order to write a working thesis. Remember that your thesis is the argument you will work to prove with your research in your paper. Keep in mind that you will have time to revise and revisit your thesis later in the course.

1.3.3: Mapping Your Topic Page The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Writing Center: "Webbing"

Watch this video and then map out concepts for the research topic you identified in subunit 1.3.1. Use this "Mapping a Concept" worksheet for some ideas on getting started.

1.4: Outlining URL Writing for Success: "Chapter 8, Section 2: Outlining"

Read this section and complete the exercises, using your own research topic. By completing these exercises, you will refine your thesis, and you should wind up with a complete outline. You will have plenty of opportunities later to revise and fill in your outline, so do not worry too much about polishing your outline.

2.1.1: Note Taking Tools URL Evernote

This resource is optional. This is a free resource, but you will need to create an account to use it. Once you have done so, examine the features available through this site to become familiar with some of the latest methods of recording and organizing research on the Internet.

This free tool requires registration and is not required for this course. It is provided here as a reference for those who might find it useful.


2.1.2: Using a Reverse Outline Page The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Writing Center: "Reverse Outline"

Watch this brief video on reverse outlining. Take notes so that you remember the technique while you are reviewing and taking notes on your research articles. Then, practice writing a reverse outline of one of the resources you plan to use in your research paper.

2.2.1: How to Begin Your Research URL Writing for Success: "Chapter 11, Section 4: Strategies for Gathering Reliable Information"

Read this section and complete the exercises using your own research topic. These exercises will guide you through the process of gathering your initial research. At the end of these exercises, you will have a good number of reliable resources you may use for your research paper. 

2.2.2: Investigating Scholarly vs. Non-Scholarly Sources Page Dr. Pavel Zemliansky's "Methods of Discovery: A Guide to Research Writing - Chapter 4: Finding and Evaluating Research Sources"

Please read this chapter for information on finding and evaluating research sources, and complete the writing activities. This chapter will cover types of sources as well as the credibility of both print and electronic resources.

File Duke University Libraries: "Evaluating Sources"

Read this presentation to learn more about the difference between popular sources and peer-reviewed journals. Be able to identify the differences between scholarly sources, substantial news sources, and popular sources.

Links from Duke University Libraries go to pages with certain information (e.g., specific scholarly journals) that are available only to those affiliated with the Duke University Libraries. You may want to print this page or make note of some of these journal titles and topics so that you can access them through other sources or through your public library. You also may want to bookmark these pages for future reference.

URL North Carolina State University Library: "Anatomy of a Scholarly Article"

Try this interactive overview of scholarly articles. Be sure to click on each section and read it carefully. Think about what makes these types of articles different from substantial news sources and popular sources.

Page California State University, Northridge - Oviatt Library: "What's a Scholarly Article?"

Watch the short video for information on how to identify scholarly journal articles and substantive news articles to use for research papers. Take some extra time to correlate the sections of this video with the different sections of this resource: North Carolina State University Library: "Anatomy of a Scholarly Article".

Page Brock University Library: "What is a peer-reviewed article?"

Watch this video for information about scholarly journal articles and how to find them online.

Page Eastern Michigan University Library: "Using Google Scholar"

Watch this video for information about scholarly journal articles and how to find them online. Try out Google Scholar with your own topic.

2.3: Reviewing and Evaluating Your Sources Page Identifying Primary and Secondary Sources

Working with your outline and list of research questions you developed so far, identify the primary and secondary sources that will answer each research question. Your goal is to have at least five primary sources and five secondary sources. You may find that you have to revise your outline or develop new research questions as you work on this activity. If you do, do not worry; this is a normal outcome of researching a topic in depth. You may also need to do additional research.

3.1.1: Reading Critically as a Research Strategy Page Dr. Pavel Zemliansky's "Methods of Discovery: A Guide to Research Writing - Chapter 3: Research and Critical Reading"

Read this chapter and then complete the writing activity, which will allow you to analyze your reading habits.

3.1.2: Analyze Your Research URL Writing for Success: "Chapter 11, Section 5: Critical Thinking and Research Applications"

Read this section and complete the exercises, which are designed to guide you through the process of evaluating your research for credibility and relevance. Use the exercises as an opportunity to complete more of your research.

3.2: Developing an Annotated Bibliography Page Pennsylvania State University: Joe Schall's "Annotated Bibliographies"

Read this article for tips on developing an annotated bibliography, and to see a sample of what a finished annotated bibliography might look like.

Page Cornell University Library: Michael Engle's "How to Prepare an Annotated Bibliography"

Read this article, which defines an annotated bibliography, distinguishes between an annotated bibliography and abstract, and explains the process of creating an annotated bibliography.

Page Research Activity: Annotated Bibliography

Using the skills you have learned about finding and evaluating sources, create an annotated bibliography for all of the sources you have identified for your research topic so far. As you continue your research, compile annotated entries for each new source that you identify.

3.3: Research Assessment Page Research Activity: Reviewing and Evaluating Your Sources

Review all of the sources you have identified for use in your research paper. Determine which are reliable, which may need further corroboration, and which may not be suitable for use in your final paper. Note the status of each source and, if necessary, conduct further research to remedy any problems you find. Revise your rough draft as necessary to reflect your findings.

4.1.1: What Is an Argumentative Essay? Page The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Writing Center: "Argument"

Read "Argument” to learn about the goals of writing an argumentative essay, developing claims, and using supporting evidence.

URL Writing for Success: "Chapter 10, Section 9: Persuasion"

Read Section 9 from Chapter 10, and complete the exercises, which are designed to guide you through the process of creating a persuasive essay. Please note that the final exercise will ask you to write a persuasive essay. For this exercise, please write a brief draft essay on your research topic. At this point, you do not need to add in your research or evidence, but use this exercise as an opportunity to develop an argument you will make in your final paper.

URL Writing for Success: "Chapter 15, Section 10: Persuasive Essay"

Review this sample essay to see an example of a persuasive argument. Based on what you learned in Section 10.9 in the reading above, identify techniques of the persuasive rhetorical mode used in this example.

4.1.2: Research and Argumentative Essays Page Dr. Pavel Zemliansky's "Methods of Discovery: A Guide to Research Writing, Chapter 1: Research Writing and Argument"

Read this chapter.

4.1.3: Dividing Your Argument Page The University of North Carolina Writing Center: "Transitions"

Read this article. Take notes on the section describing transitional expressions, and develop the habit of always including transitional words and phrases in your topic sentences.

4.2.1: Refine Your Thesis URL Writing for Success: "Chapter 9, Section 1: Developing a Strong, Clear Thesis Statement"

Read this chapter and complete the exercises. Then create a final version of your thesis statement for your research paper.

4.2.2: Develop Arguments around Your Thesis URL Writing for Success: "Chapter 6, Section 2: Effective Means for Writing a Paragraph"

Read this section and complete the exercises. Use these exercises as an opportunity to review your thesis statement and develop the arguments you will make in your paper. After you have completed the exercises, revise the outline you created earlier in the course so that it helps support the arguments you wish to make.

URL Writing for Success: "Chapter 9, Section 2: Writing Body Paragraphs"

Read this section and complete the exercises. This reading and these exercises will help you develop stronger body paragraphs in which the claim of that paragraph supports your thesis.

4.2.3: Strengthen Your Claims Page Pennsylvania State University: Joe Schall's "Blending Source Material with Your Own Work"

Read this article, which will help you to learn techniques for integrating your research with your writing.

4.2.4: Toulmins Schema Page Utah State University: "Intermediate Writing: Toulmin's Schema"

Review and analyze this reading about Toulmin's schema. Then, take some time to draft a formal warrant for your paper. Consider how your research findings will relate to your warrant, and rework it as you think necessary. Finally, return to your essay outline and revise as necessary, adding as many elements from Toulmin's Schema as you can.

4.3.1: Look for Assumptions and Generalizations Page Utah State University: "Intermediate Writing: Detecting Assumptions and Generalizations"

Read this article to learn how to recognize and fix assumptions and generalizations. Then, return to your essay outline and look for any assumptions and generalizations. Revise as necessary.

4.3.2: Using Direct Quotations to Support Your Arguments Page Boundless: "Differentiating your Argument from Others"

Read this article on tips and suggestions for using sources in your writing.

Page The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Writing Center: "Quotations"

Read this handout about when to quote, how to quote, and why you should use a quote.

4.3.3: Addressing Counterargument Page The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Writing Center: "Argument"

Read this handout on how understanding counterargument can reinforce your main argument.

4.4.1: Write an Abstract of Your Work Page The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Writing Center: "Abstracts"

Read this handout on the purpose of an abstract, types of abstracts, and how to write an abstract. After reading, develop an informative abstract for your paper.

4.4.2: Revising Your Outline Page Activity: Revising Your Outline

Return to your outline and flesh out as much detail as possible. Your thesis should be clear and focused, and all of your logic and evidence should clearly support that controlling idea. Using your annotated bibliography, make note of the sources you will use to support your arguments. You may identify points that could use additional clarification and notice a few small holes in your research, though your information-gathering should be almost complete at this point. If needed, conduct some more research to fill these gaps.

5.1.1: Drafting Process URL Writing for Success: "Chapter 12, Section 1: Creating a Rough Draft for a Research Paper"

Read this section and complete the exercises. Developing a first draft of a paper requires a series of steps. This reading takes you through the steps and the order in which they should be completed so that you may write a strong first draft.

5.1.2: Overcoming Writer's Block Page The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Writing Center: "Writing Anxiety"

Read this article for tips and suggestions on how to overcome writer's block.

5.2.1: Writing an Introduction Page The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Writing Center: "Introductions"

Read this handout to learn about the purpose of writing a strong introduction as well as tips and strategies to effectively open your paper. Using the information you have learned in this reading, revise the introduction you drafted in subunit 5.1.1, based on Exercise 1 in the reading.

5.2.2: Paragraph Development Page The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Writing Center: "Paragraphs"

Read this article on paragraphs from the University of North Carolina's Writing Center. Pay close attention to the section on the five step process to writing a paragraph, and copy each step into your notebook. Do the paragraph troubleshooting exercises so that you can understand what makes a paragraph a good paragraph.

5.2.3: Writing a Conclusion URL Writing for Success: "Chapter 9, Section 4: Writing Introductory and Concluding Paragraphs"

Read this section and complete Exercise 3. This reading will provide a review of writing effective introductions and conclusions.

5.3.1: Why You Must Acknowledge Sources Page Dr. Pavel Zemliansky's "Methods of Discovery: A Guide to Research Writing - Chapter 5: Acknowledging Sources and Avoiding Plagiarism"

Read this chapter to learn about avoiding plagiarism. Do not attempt the exercise right now; you will work on it later in this unit.

5.3.2: Acknowledging and Integrating Sources URL Writing for Success: "Chapter 13, Section 2: Citing and Referencing Techniques"

Read this section and complete the exercises, which will help you properly cite sources in your research paper.

5.3.3: Avoiding Plagiarism Page Pennsylvania State University: Joe Schaal's "How Plagiarism Occurs"

Read this article. Plagiarism - both intentional and unintentional - can be a major problem in academic writing.

5.3.3.1: Documenting to Avoid Plagiarism Page Pennsylvania State University: Joe Schall's "Anatomy of a Well-Cited Paragraph"

Please read this page and note the accepted techniques for citing source information.

5.3.3.2: When Sources Must Be Cited Page Pennsylvania State University: Joe Schall's "When Sources Must Be Cited"

Review this checklist carefully and note the accepted techniques for citing source information.

5.3.4: Frequently Asked Questions about Citing Sources Page Pennsylvania State University: Joe Schall's "FAQs about Citing Sources"

Read these frequently asked questions about citing sources carefully and take note of the accepted techniques for citing source information.

5.4.1: Modern Language Association (MLA) Style URL Writing for Success: "Chapter 13, Section 4: Using Modern Language Association (MLA) Style"

Read this section and complete the exercises, which will help you properly cite sources in your research paper.

5.4.2: American Psychological Association (APA) Style URL Writing for Success: "Chapter 13, Section 1: Formatting a Research Paper"

Read this section and complete the exercises, which walk you through the steps of APA formatting. Knowledge of APA style is not required for this course. You should review the material available through these pages so that you can get a general understanding about using APA style to document sources for reference papers in the sciences.

5.4.3: The Chicago Manual of Style Page Graduate Journal of Social Science: "Chicago Manual of Style Citation Guide"

Knowledge of Chicago style is not required for this course. You should review the material available through these pages so that you can get a general understanding about using Chicago style to document sources.

5.4.4: Comparing Documentation Styles Page Activity: Comparing Documentation Styles

Select three sources that you investigated when you began researching your paper and format them in accordance with MLA bibliographic style. Then, reformat them in accordance with APA and Chicago style. In three short paragraphs, compare and contrast the resulting sets of entries.

5.4.5: Unit 5 Activity Page Activity: Developing a Finished Draft

Use the outline and research notes that you have compiled to develop the draft of a research paper of 1200 to 1500 words (approximately five double-spaced pages). 

In Unit 6, after you have finalized your research and completed the full draft, you will have the opportunity to review and revise your work to make it as polished as you can.

6.1: Review, Revise, and Finalize Your Research Paper URL Writing for Success: "Chapter 8, Section 4: Revising and Editing"

Read this section and complete the exercises, which will help you to identify areas of weakness in your paper that need revision and what steps need to be taken to improve your writing.

6.2: Completing Your Research Paper URL Writing for Success: "Chapter 12, Section 2: Developing a Final Draft of a Research Paper"

Read this section and complete the exercises, which will help you take steps to revise your paper. Throughout these exercises, you will have the opportunity to edit your paper several times and correct the most common problems in research writing. Click on the links to additional review material for refreshers on editing for correct grammar, tone, etc.

Page Activity: Completing Your Research Paper

Prepare a polished, publishable version that meets all MLA formatting and style requirements. Be sure that your paper meets all requirements for page layout and formatting and that all of your citations are properly formatted. As a final step, proofread and spell-check your entire paper, including the abstract and bibliography.

If you would like to share you work with other students, you may post your paper to our discussion forums.

Course Feedback Survey URL Course Feedback Survey