Instructions for writing research papers

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(Extracted and adapted from MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers)

1. Thesis statement
An Answer to a Question or Problem
… [Y]ou can begin to shape the information you have at hand into a unified, coherent whole by framing a thesis statement for your paper: a single sentence that formulates both your topic and your point of view. In a sense,the thesis statement is your answer to the central question or problem you have raised. Writing this statement will enable you to see where you are heading and to remain on a productive path as you plan and write. Try out different possibilities until you find a statement that seems right for your purpose. Moreover, since the experience of writing may well alter your original plans, do not hesitateto revise the thesis statement as you write the paper (49-50).

2. Plagiarism: Definition and Consequences
[Plagiarism] refers to a form of cheating that has been defined as “the false assumption of authorship: the wrongful act of taking the product of another person’s mind, and presenting it as one’s own” (Alexander Lindey, Plagiarism and Originality [New York: Harper, 1952] 2). Plagiarisminvolves two kinds of wrongs. Using another person’s ideas, information, or expressions without acknowledging that person’s work constitutes intellectual theft. Passing off another persons’ ideas, information or expressions as your own to get a better grade or gain some other advantage constitutes fraud. Plagiarism is sometimes a moral and ethical offence rather than a legal one … (66).
Plagiarismis almost always seen as a shameful act, and plagiarists are usually regarded with pity and scorn. They are pitied because they have demonstrated their inability to develop and express their own thoughts. They are scorned because of their dishonesty and their willingness to deceive others for personal gain. (66)

3. Information Sharing Today
Innumerable documents on a host of subjects areposted on the Web apparently for the purpose of being shared. The availability of research materials and the ease of transmitting, modifying, and using them have influenced the culture of the Internet, where the free exchange of information is an ideal. In this sea of materials, some students may question the need to acknowledge the authorship of individual documents. Professional writers, however,have no doubt about the matter. They recognise the importance of avoiding plagiarism whether they base their research on print or electronic publications. And so they continue to cite their sources and to mark the passages they quote. (68)
New technologies have made information easier to locate and obtain, but research projects only begin with identifying and collecting source material. Theessential intellectual tasks of a research project have not changed. These tasks call for a student to understand the published facts, ideas, and insights about a subject and to integrate them with the student’s own views on the topic. To achieve this goal, student writers must rigorously distinguish between what they borrow and what they create. (69)
As information sharing has become easier, so hasplagiarism. For instance, on the Internet it is possible to buy and download complete research papers. Some students are misinformed about buying research papers, on the Internet or on campus. They believe that if they buy a paper, it belongs to them, and therefore they can use the ideas, facts, sentences, and paragraphs in it, free from any worry about plagiarism. Buying a paper, however, is the sameas buying a book or magazine. You own the physical copy of the book or magazine, which you may keep in your bookcase, give to a friend, or sell. And you may use whatever you learn from reading it in your own writing. But you are never free from the obligation to let your readers know the source of the ideas, facts, words, or sentences you borrow. Whether in print or electronic formats,...
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