Surveying Your Topic, Finding Sources, and
Creating Works-Cited Entries
- To see if you can find enough information on your
topic and to be sure it is the one you want to write about, find some books
or articles (including online sources) on your topic and do some pre-reading to survey
and online resources.
- After about an hour's research, you should be
able to determine whether or not you'll be able to find enough good
resources. To survey your topic, skim resources to find the thesis and main
points your experts wrote about in their works. You will want to create a
thesis statement (a sentence that states your topic, your position
about the topic, and three or more main points that provide evidence for
your position) similar to those in your sources.
You have found six sources about Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Five agree that the book is an important literary work which should
be read and studied. One source says it is horrible because it uses the
N-word. It will be far easier to write a thesis stating that the book should
be read because most of the sources agree that it should. Trying to write a
research paper proving what you personally believe, but for which you can
find no works to support your belief is nearly impossible. After reading the
sources, several blame the tragedy on Abigail Williams, Tituba, and Judge
Danforth. As a result, it is possible to create a thesis statement:
The three characters in The
responsible for the deaths in Salem are Abigail Williams, Tituba, and Judge
- Print out your online sources.
It is actually much faster to create a research paper by using notes and/or
sources which are on paper.
- Make a works-cited page as soon
as you have found sources you can use. Click
here to see a sample MLA paper with its works-cited page (scroll to last
page). (You may use EasyBib or
KnightCite, but if
you don't understand what information EasyBib or KnightCite is asking for,
you might type in the wrong information, so be sure read the information
below and then compare your EasyBib or KnightCite results to examples found
at the Purdue
Online Writing Lab.
- Before you create your works-cited
entries, learn how to read works-cited entries:
Here is an example of a works-cited entry for a book:
cite a book in MLA style, include the following elements in your works-cited
(Author's name: Last, First.)
Title of source.
(Novel title: Italicized)
(The name of the publishing company is Warner
Publication date. (The last publication date on the
copyright page is 1982. Note that the date is followed by a period because
it is the last core element.
Here is an example of
combination in-text and parenthetical citation
which matches the works-cited entry:
Harper Lee shows how humans can be irresponsible citizens by having her
character Atticus Finch say, "Serving on a jury forces a man to make up his
mind and declare himself about something. Men don't like to do that.
Sometimes it's unpleasant" ( 297).
need the page numbers for any information you find in a book, whether it is
quoted, paraphrased, or summarized.
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