• Unit 5: Writing the Research Paper and Acknowledging Your Sources

    When you write a research paper, your work's success can depend almost as heavily on the work of others as it does on your own efforts. Your information sources not only provide essential facts and insights that can enhance and clarify your original ideas, but source material can also help you better understand your own theories and opinions and help you to arrive at more authoritative, clearly-drawn conclusions.

    Because of the debt that you, as the author of a research paper, owe your sources, you must understand how to present, acknowledge, and document the sources you have built into your work. You should be aware that using accepted standards of style and citation can benefit you as a writer. When your references are clearly annotated within your work, you can see where your source material appears, making it that much easier to edit, update, and expand your work.

    By following accepted standards to present your work in a manner accessible to readers, you also enhance your credibility as a writer and researcher. When your readers can easily identify and check your sources, they are more likely to accept you as a member of their discourse communities. This is especially important in an academic environment, where your readers are likely to investigate your work as a potential source for their own research projects. To put it bluntly, careful adherence to accepted style conventions in academic writing can mean the difference between great success and total failure.

    In this unit, we will review the concept of plagiarism and discuss how you can use clear, consistent documentation to avoid even the unintentional misuse of source material. We will also review many of the commonly accepted methods of acknowledging and documenting sources used in writing college research papers. We will pay particular attention to the Modern Language Association (MLA) style standards because this is the most widely used convention in college undergraduate work.

    This unit will culminate in an opportunity to build your selected source material into a fully developed first draft of your final research paper. By the time you have finished the final activity in this unit, you should have accomplished much of the groundwork for your final research paper.

    By the time you have finished the work in this unit, you should have a command of the materials and techniques you will need to complete a well-developed academic paper. As a by-product, your final research paper for this course will probably be nearly finished.

    This unit's final activity is to develop a final polished and clearly documented research paper that makes full use of the tools, techniques, and products that you have discovered, developed, and organized during the preceding four units.

    Completing this unit should take you approximately 27 hours.

    • 5.1: Preparing to Write the First Draft.

        • 5.1.1: Drafting Process

        • 5.1.2: Overcoming Writer's Block

      • 5.2: Getting Started

          • 5.2.1: Writing an Introduction

          • 5.2.2: Paragraph Development

          • 5.2.3: Writing a Conclusion

        • 5.3: Citing Sources

            • 5.3.1: Why You Must Acknowledge Sources

            • 5.3.2: Acknowledging and Integrating Sources

            • 5.3.3: Avoiding Plagiarism

              • Documenting to Avoid Plagiarism

              • When Sources Must Be Cited

            • 5.3.4: Frequently Asked Questions about Citing Sources

          • 5.4: Standard Style and Documentation Systems

            There are several widely used style standards. Each of these is preferred in a different set of disciplines. Unless you are taking this course to prepare a research paper for another course that requires a different style standard, you should use MLA style to prepare your research paper for this course.

              • 5.4.1: Modern Language Association (MLA) Style

              • 5.4.2: American Psychological Association (APA) Style

              • 5.4.3: The Chicago Manual of Style

              • 5.4.4: Comparing Documentation Styles

              • 5.4.5: Unit 5 Activity

            • Unit 5 Assessment

              • Receive a grade