The Academic Research Essay
ENGL 1301: Law & Justice
Length & Format: At least 900 words (not including Works Cited) in MLA format, Times New Roman 12-point font, double-spaced. You must include a “Works Cited” page and use correct MLA format for in-text (parenthetical) citations.
Topic: You may choose your topic so long as it specifically relates to law, society, &/or justice. The only topics you may not write about are abortion, death penalty, or marijuana.
Three Academic Sources: These sources must be derived from the RLC online library database or an RLC library book, chapter, section, etc.
Description: You will assert an argument about a topic (thesis), and you will validate your argument with reasons and supporting evidence from academic sources.
Reading & Pre-Writing Strategy:
Take notes and brainstorm in your Writer’s Notebook. Outline your ideas.
Building upon your short preliminary outline, you should incorporate the components of an academic research essay. These components correspond with the grading criteria:
1. Introduction Paragraph should include:a. Hook/Attention grabber-(question/rhetorical question, anecdote, surprising statement, or a declarative); b. Significance-explains how the hook relates to the thesis; and c. Thesis statement-A one-sentence, overall argument that you assert or your take-away message—a “should”-type statement.
2. Background information paragraph-objective, neutral paragraph that provides preliminary information on your topic
3, 4, & 5. Reason Paragraphs: These are argumentative paragraphs that link to and break down your thesis statement. These paragraphs should include:
a. A “reason” topic sentence. A reason provides a “why” or “because” the thesis statement is true. This sentence states the overall meaning or concept covered in the paragraph.
b. Evidence from a source (ie. statistics, studies, expert opinion, charts, graphs, publication, etc.)
You must provide an in-text citation at the end of EVERY sentence where you summarize, paraphrase, or quote information from the image. You may quote only up to one line on your page. Otherwise, paraphrase. For images, an in-text citation should include the author’s last name and page numbers: (Jullian 57). If no author is listed, then you should include the article’s title in quotes: (“Justice and Gender” 57). If no page numbers are listed, then don’t add anything: (Jullian) or (“Justice and Gender).
c. Analysis of the evidence. This information explains how the evidence you used relates to the reason. Analysis answers the following questions: So what? Why does it matter? Who cares? Why is it important? What is the big point (what it is)? What is the big picture (what it means?).
d. A conclusion sentence that summarizes the paragraph.
6. Conclusion paragraph should include: a. Summary of your reasons; 2. Significance-So what? Why does it matter? Who cares?; and c. Clincher/Conclusion Technique: question, quote, vivid image, warning, call to action, suggestion of results or consequences, universalization (compare to other situations)), or coming full circle.
7. Works Cited for our sources, alphabetized and with hanging indentation. For college online library research databases, click the “Cite” button & select “MLA.”
Erin L. Kelley, PhD, JD
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