Chapter 9-4: The MLA-format Research Essay
A research essay examines or argues a point of view that is supported by researched material from several different sources.
Finding a Topic
The goal of a research essay is to relate the topic back to a central idea or problem. Create questions that can help narrow down the topic and make the essay more specific.
Is white meat healthier than red meat?
What are the possible side effects of eating red meat?
Are some meats contaminated?
Is the main idea or focus of the essay.
Use the guiding questions created about the topic to help create a thesis statement.
The thesis should be a full sentence, not a question.
Guiding question: What are the possible side effects of eating red meat?
Thesis: Consuming meat can have negative affects on the environment and human health.
The beginning sentence of each body paragraph.
Should be a full sentence that gives the reader an idea about what the paragraph will be about.
Sources can be from online, academic articles or journals, magazines, books or newspapers.
Complete Source Information
When citing sources, try to write down as much information as possible about the source to avoid plagiarism.
Books, Magazines, Newspapers
Author's full name
Title of Book, Article, Magazine, Newspaper, Journal
Publishing info (including name of publisher, date and city where it was published)
Page numbers used
Author's full name
Title of Article and Website
Full website URL
Publisher or sponsor of site (if not the same as the wesbite title)
Update or publication date
Always carefully evaluate an online source to make sure it's credible.
Is the information and website up to date?
Who published the information and how well-known/reliable is the site?
Who is the author? Are they an expert or known as a reliable source in that area? Do they offer an unbiased opinion?
Is there advertising on the site? Could that affect the information posted?
Are there multiple authors stating the same information? Information is always more reliable when the same facts come from multiple credible sources.
Every time you use information found by someone else (text, ideas, images, quotes) you must cite that source or you will be committing plagiarism.
Plagiarism is using someone else's work or ideas and passing them off as your own. This is taken extremely seriously in academic settings.
The two most common citation styles are from the Modern Language Association (MLA) and the American Psychological Association (APA).
MLA tends be used in the humanities field and APA in the science or social sciences fields. This is an English website, so it will focus on MLA Format.
When summarizing, paraphrasing, or quoting, cite the source in the body of text and on a works cited page.
Sources Cited in Text: Print
Sources Cited in Text: Online
MLA "Works Cited" List
Put the works cited list at the end of the research essay.
Follow the basic guidelines, below:
Write "Works Cited" at the top center of the page and your last name and the page number in the top right corner.
Sources should be listed in Alphabetical Order by the author's last name or by the title if there is no author.
Indent all the following lines of the entry after the first line.
Everything should be double spaced.
Information Included in works cited list:
Author's Full Name
Last name, First Name
Quotations for short works like articles, book chapters, or newspaper editorials.
Italicize titles for longer works like books, magazines, websites or newspapers.
Use this for shorter works like articles, book chapters and editorials that come from a larger source with a different title.
Anyone else that contributed to the source like an editor, illustrator, narrator or adapted the work.
Edition, Version, Volume, Issue Number
List editions (4th ed., Updated Ed.)
Put the volume and issue number together (vol. 5, no. 2)
Write the full name of the publisher or the sponsor website.
Date source was published
URL or Page Number
Specific pages used, digital object identifier (DOI) or URL