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ENC 1101 - Prof. Russell Aaronson : Start Here


This guide is designed to help you successfully locate, evaluate and cite information to complete your research assignment.

Where Do I Start?

Click on the links below to find books on locating and organizing research information.


Research Assignment


Essay of Introduction and Association

Meditations on the Letter _______


This essay is designed to help you move beyond the FCAT essay.  In order for you to compose this essay, a writing formula will not work; essentially you will move away from the traditional high school essay format and into college level composition.  You will learn to develop your own voice, to choose an appropriate style, to make your own decisions regarding the organization, and to use details that are varied, relevant, interesting, and appropriate (Keep it PG!)


On Tuesday, September 6, you will submit:

·       Typed first draft

·       Brainstorm cluster sheet

·       Thesis/detail list ordering the ideas you used

·       Copy of article retrieved from Opposing Viewpoints Research Center, CQ Researcher, or Issues and Controversies.  You will find these databases on the BC Library site – see handout.  (Highlight information you included in your essay.)

·       Writers Workbench analysis: 2.1 Characteristics – Style Statistics



·       In 6 or more paragraphs (600-1000 words), write an Essay of Illustration in which you explain some “truth” about yourself or about life.

·       Look at your brainstorm cluster sheet – and select ideas that seem connected.

o   You may want to illustrate how you are a perfectionist, rigid and driven – you can only accept the highest grades (like the letter A)

o   Or how you are like a B, laid back, well rounded and content to take life as it comes.

o   Maybe you want to comment on how life is like the letter M – we strive to rise above, to achieve, but inevitably we will crash and fall – living means that we work our way up again.

o   Or how about discussing how life is interesting because it is so full of unknowns and mysteries (like the letter X).

o   Or like the letter Z, life is not a straight line – living means sometimes taking a detour, deliberately choosing “the road less traveled.”


Use details based on the list of ideas, impressions.  Look at your list and now find specific details.  You must use details from three of the categories below including at least one Current Event (which is supported by the article you found on the BC Database).

·       History

·       Current Events

·       Literature

·       Personal Observations

o   Anecdotes

o   Descriptions


As you decide on detail, remember that good essays of illustrations use details that “show” rather than simply “tell” the reader what you mean or intend.


Introduction: Begin with the commonplace, the simple, the ordinary.  You might wish to begin with an anecdote (like the sample essay on the letter A) or maybe you can begin with a physical description of the letter (like the sample essay on the letter X).


Body: The body paragraphs will build to more “weighty” ideas.  Keep in mind the point you wish to make.  Use examples/illustrations from history, current events, literature, personal observation to explain the points you are making: what does the letter reveal about you, about life.  Notice that there is not a specific number of paragraphs that you must complete; nor is there a specific number of sentences in each paragraph.  As the writer, you must decide on the numbers of paragraphs and the length of those paragraphs.


The best essays show how the letter is “two-sided” (paradoxical) and they include both negative and positive illustrations… they frequently include irony. (The letter A does represent perfection, but there is a cost in attaining perfection.  The letter X usually has a negative connotation, but it represents the mystery, which makes us and life interesting.)


Conclusion: Come to a conclusion, but don’t worry about making the essay “important.”  Good essay writers try to come “full circle” – that is, the end of the essay connects to something introduced in the beginning.  (The A essay begins with the classroom geography game and ends with a clever return to that game.)

·       The tone can be serious or humorous

·       The style is informal. (Yes, you may use first person: I, me, we, us, our etc.) (No, do not use second person: you, your etc.)

·       Use the sample essays as models.



·       Must use Microsoft Word (PC or Mac).

·       Double spaced, 10-12 point type will yield about 2 – 2 ½ pages (600-1000 words)

·       Save to a flash drive – and also email the document as an attachment to your own personal BC email address.

Use MLA style – see Writing Research Papers for a sample of a paper in MLA format (pp 226-238). 

·       Include a Works Cited page, which cites the BC Database article you used from Opposing Viewpoints Research Center, CQ Researcher, or Issues and Controversies. See page 268 of Writing Research Papers for example of MLA reference citation format for the article.  Or see attached sample.

The Research Process


The research process involves selecting a topic, developing a search strategy, locating information, evaluating information and citing sources. The flow chart below outlines the steps to complete a research assignment. Research Process

Source: University of Nebraska Omaha, CRISS Library

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Useful Terms

Citation: A concise description of a source, also called a reference, which allows other researchers to find the source

MLA style: The documentation format recommended by the Modern Language Association of America 

Record: A descriptive summary of a source, such as entries found in an online catalog or database

Source: An object in any format containing information; any evidence a researcher uses to support an argument

Subject Headings: Standardized words or phrases used to describe the content of a source


George, Mary. The Elements of Library Research: What Every Student Needs to Know. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008. Print.