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Writing the Research Paper

Unit VIII: Writing Your Final Draft

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Unit VIII: Writing the Final Draft

Ther nys no werkman, whatsoever he be,
That may bothe werke wel and hastily;
this wol be doon at leyser parfitly.

Geoffrey Chaucer, The Clerk's Tale

Introductory Remarks

You have finished all the writing. Now, like a Christmas present, you have to wrap the package in the appropriate format. Your teacher may designate a particular style or have his own specifications. If this were a thesis for a formal degree, such as a Master's degree, you would have instructions on exactly how to lay out the title page that would explain the exact number of inches from top of the page required for the placement of the title, where your name goes, how wide the left, right, top, and bottom margins must be, and so forth. Failure to adhere to every detail could delay acceptance of your paper and the granting of your degree! So at this point, you must become extremely careful about details of presentation.

Points for this Unit

Assembling the final version

Proofreading and Final Editing

Run the paper through the spell checker one last time. Verify that all spelling errors have been corrected, and that all footnote and bibliographic references have names that are properly spelled.

Read through the body of the paper one more time. It is useful to do this backwards, reading a paragraph at a time in reverse order, so that problems in syntax are more readily detected. You know what you meant to write, and sometimes, you may see that on the page rather than what is actually there. Check especially for those kinds of errors the spelling checker won't detect:

When in doubt, look up the rule for a given situation. While this is time-consuming, it has two advantages: you will have a better paper this time, and you will remember the rule next time.

If possible, have a knowledgeable sibling or parent help you by proofreading your paper, or read it out loud yourself. Frequently, you will find awkward phrasing or ambiguous passages leap out when you hear them, but never when you simply read them silently.

After you have made whatever corrections are necessary to fix the language of the text, check all references. Make sure that your footnotes or endnotes are sequentially numbered, and that you have a bibliographic reference for each. Check the format of the notes and the bibliography, and be sure that each reference follows the style required by your instructor (if you are writing a paper for another course) or MLA conventions.

Your word processor may have automatic numbering for footnotes/endnotes or pages; you should still check the result!

Using Section Headings

If you paper is more than four or five pages, or if it otherwise falls into obvious sections, you should use section headings to clue in your reader to major changes in topic. Again, the style you are using may dictate format for those headings. These could vary from using Roman rather than Arabic numerals to centering rather than left-justifying the headings. Be sure that whatever style you use, you apply it consistently!

The Table of Contents

If you use headings, you may want to add a table of contents to your report. This goes after the title page and before the body of the report. Generally, it is considered "frontmatter" material, and is numbered separately, using Roman numerals, from the body of the report, which should have page numbers in Arabic numerals. Check the documentation for your wordprocessor to see whether it can handle the numbering differences in one file; if not, you may need to use two files to force your word processor to correctly number the pages.

In a very long work, your frontmatter will include not only the title page and contents, but possible also a preface, dedication, and acknowledgements section. If the work is a research paper for a degree, there will also be a signature page for the professors to sign, acknowledging that your work has passed inspection. While none of this advances the argument of your research, it does set that research in context, explaining how it came about. This can be helpful to others attempting a similar kind of research.

Assembling All the pieces

You now have all the pieces, and they should follow this order:

EXAMPLES

Title Page

The American Film: A Reflection of American Society

Paper submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for

the 2022 Scholars Online Writing the Research Paper Course

by

Christe Ann McMenomy

August 15, 2022

Table of Contents

  • Introduction: The Mirror of Society ....................................................... 1
  • The Comedy of Manners: Films of the 1930s....................................... 3
  • The Defenders of Freedom: World War II Films ............................... 12
  • The Aftermath of THE BOMB: Monster Movies of the Fifties ..... 18
  • The Cold War: The Movies that Brought Spies in from the Cold .... 23
  • Conclusion: The Future of Movies ....................................................... 29

Assignment for this Unit

This is the last step for the research portion of the course. You should have a paper that you can turn in for a "real" assignment, or one you can turn in for this course.

Assignment

  1. Assemble your paper according to the instructions above in your favorite word processor.
  2. Save your paper in the word processor format and back up this file on another drive! You've put too much work into this to lose it.
  3. Save the paper using your word processor's "print PDF" function and create a file of your entire paper, proper formatted, so that others who do not have your word processor can review your report.

Upload your paper into the Scholars Online Writing the Research Paper Moodle forum for this unit. Review the submissions from your fellow students and offer constructive criticism on their final version. This may be useful if they intend to submit the paper elsewhere.