Author Research

Paper 3: Author Research Paper (200 points)  Due Nov. 10th  Overview: What inspires the writing of literature? Research an author’s life and times, interests, and his or her literary subject matter to determine what inspired that person’s writings. The author may be anyone you choose, but keep in mind that well-known writers will be easier to research. This paper should not be structured like a biography of an author, listing everything that happened in the person’s life. You will instead focus on specific events, places, people, philosophies, interests, concerns, or concepts that in some way influenced the author’s writing.  This paper of 1300 to 1500+ words should argue at least three main points about the author’s creative influences, and each of those points should be supported strongly in the body of the paper by quoting/paraphrasing and discussing the research. Check the library’s online database of reference sources, journal articles, e-books, videos, and/or print books to get information. You will need at least four sources (any combination) for this paper.  I. Prewriting A. Pre-research: Choose the author about whom you will be writing, and reflect on what you know about that person in order to determine what inspired or influenced his or her writings. It is acceptable early on to use the internet (Google, Wikipedia, etc.) during this pre-research stage to find general information that can help you focus, but you will need more reliable sources later, as you research and write the paper. Anyone retaking ENGL 132 must choose a new author and write an entirely new paper.  B. Research. 1. Check online journal articles, reference sources, and streaming videos through Reid Memorial Library’s online database. Note: As of the beginning of the semester, the campus library will be open 8:00-4:30 on Monday through Friday, but should restrictions force the closure of college campuses and libraries in the area, this is likely the way you will locate ALL of your research for the author research paper. Also note that use of these online databases is not the same thing as using an internet source. These databases are electronic materials which the library has paid for, just like the books and other print sources they’ve purchased. When I say, “Don’t use internet sources,” I’m referring to the articles you may find when doing a Google search. Below are the steps to follow when looking for sources in the library’s databases:  2  a. Go to the library’s website ( Click on “Find an Article or Online Streaming Video” (about halfway down the page, under Find Resources). 1. The databases for journal articles are organized by category to help you select the best ones for your paper.  2. While working from home, you’ll be prompted to enter an ID number to access the journal and reference source databases. The number you’ll use for this is located under the barcode of your student ID. It can also be found on Blazernet, under Academic Profile: My Library ID Number.  b. Use search terms in these databases to find information; this is similar to doing an advanced Google search. If you already know of something that might have inspired the author you’ve selected, use applicable search terms in the blanks. 1. For example, if you’re searching for inspiration in Sylvia Plath’s works, use what you already know about her to make your search specific. You could type “Sylvia Plath” in the first blank and type “father” or “Otto” in the second blank (if there is a second blank) to see if there are any articles indicating that the loss of her father influenced her poetry.  2. You could narrow the search even more by typing “father’s death” or “loss of father” or “losing her father” in the second blank. If you do not find any articles with your first search, modify your search terms and/or try a different database. This will take some trial and error, to find the right database for your topic. For this assignment, you may start with the ones sorted into the Literature category.  c. When using the article databases, make sure you put a check in the box for “full-text” (if the option is available) on the keyword search page before starting your search. If you don’t select “full-text,” you could get a long list of articles in your search, but you won’t have quick access to the ones which do not have links to the full articles.  d. Avoid book reviews, sometimes marked as (book) in the title. They only summarize or critique books about the authors, and they will not give you enough useful information for this paper.  3  e. You may choose to print the articles or email them to yourself for reading or printing later. If you do decide to spend a day or two at the LCCC library, in Reid, all students have an account allowing you to print up to 500 pages (I believe) per semester for free. You will sign into the computer and the printer with your Blazernet sign-in name and password.  2. Note: Checking print reference sources may not be an option for this paper if community libraries close. If you do have access to libraries, though, you’ll find these sources located on shelves on the main floor of the campus library, near the writing desk and computer labs. In many of these sources, you may not look up the author’s name, but some interest or theme which you believe to have influenced him or her (postpartum depression, an event in history, or the Harlem Renaissance, for example). If you use any of the print reference sources, make sure you write down or take a picture of the source information (usually captured on the first page or two of the volume) to prepare for the works cited and in-text citations of your research paper. You will either need to bring money for the copier or take a picture of each page you would like to use from these sources, since these reference sources cannot be checked out.  3. Note: Checking for books or DVDs may not be an option for this paper if there should be community library closures. If the campus library is open while you’re working on this paper, to locate books for this assignment, you will: a. Go to the library’s website (  b. Scroll halfway down the page. Click on “Find Books, Media, and More.”  c. To search for books available at LCCC, simply type search terms (keyword, author, subject, or title) into the blank and see what comes up. You should see a few drop-down options as you begin typing search terms. Selecting “L&C Library Catalog” in that drop-down list will show you books owned by LCCC. The books available for check-out are located downstairs in the library. You’ll need a student ID card to check out a book or video. Selecting “All I-Share Libraries Search” from the drop-down list will search for books from libraries in our system who cooperatively share books with each other. Through this system, books you request will be sent to the Lewis & Clark library, and you can pick them up at the front desk within a week (usually just a few days) of requesting them. I-Share may not be available if campuses here or throughout the state are closed. Ignore the search option for “L&C Course Reserves” for this assignment.  4  4. If the internet (Google searches, etc.) is the only place you can find information on your author, you’ll need to choose a different author. However, if you have found at least four peer-reviewed sources (like journal articles, reference sources, and/or books) for your paper and then find something online that you feel is ideal for your topic, you must get my approval to use it. You will lose 25 points for every unapproved internet source you include in the paper. To get approval, email me a list of the 4+ peer-reviewed sources, plus a link to the source you’d like to also include in your research. I’ll write back and let you know if it is approved.  C. Read the research information you have gathered and take notes in some format. You will not turn in these notes with your final draft, but they will help you see what all you have prepared for your paper. 1. You may use note cards to organize notes.  2. You may use a notebook to take notes.  3. You may type or copy and paste information into a document you’ve separated into sections.  4. If you have printed articles from the computer and/or photocopied articles, you may opt to underline and/or highlight the text and make notes in the margins.  D. Figure out how to organize your points and where to place your research in the paper.  II. Writing A. Introduction: Get the reader’s attention. One common way to do this for the author research paper is to write a brief summary of the writer’s life. (You may discuss specific details in depth when you get to the body of the paper.) Move smoothly toward the thesis statement, which focuses on what has inspired that writer. What follows is a sample thesis statement: The inspiration for Patricia Smith’s poetry comes from her past tragedies, present social concerns, and future hopes. Remember to underline your thesis statement. The introduction paragraph should not go beyond the first page of the paper and should all be in one paragraph.  B. Body: This is where you will argue at least three points about what inspired the author. 1. Incorporate the research (quotes/paraphrasing and discussion) into the paper, and use in-text citations for any information you got from another source even if you aren’t quoting word for word.  5  2. Don’t let a majority of the body of the paper consist of quotes. Your analysis of the quotes and how they prove the thesis should make up most of the body.  3. Check for a strong topic sentence in each body paragraph; the topic sentences should all relate to the thesis. Use transitions to tie ideas together. Example topic sentences for three body paragraphs that match the sample thesis above could be: 1) Smith’s past tragedies have inspired her poetry a great deal. 2) Social injustices in the world today also anger Smith and ignite her creativity. 3) Although issues from her past and present frustrate her, Smith has hope for the future, which is reflected in her writing.  4. You may opt to break the body of the paper into more than three paragraphs, even if you have exactly three main ideas. If those main ideas can be broken into smaller pieces for discussion, then each of those subcategories may need an entire paragraph to explain.  C. Conclusion: The conclusion makes the paper feel finished. If you feel it’s necessary to reiterate the main points of the paper, do so, but don’t repeat yourself word for word. Do not retype your thesis statement in the conclusion.  III. Revising A. Rewrite as needed to improve word choice, sentence structure, & organization.  B. Edit and spell check the final draft. Don’t forget to give the paper an original title.  C. There are open sessions scheduled for Oct. 15th, 20th, 22nd, and 27th. These are all days when I will be available for help in Zoom, but no one is required to “check in” for attendance purposes. You’re expected to work for an hour and fifteen minutes on your paper on each of those days.  D. Anyone who would like for me to review your first draft should email it to me no later than the end of class time on Oct. 27th. Let me know when you send it whether you prefer a Zoom meeting on Oct. 29th or Nov. 5th or if you’d rather have my notes emailed to you.  E. Workshop days are then scheduled for Oct. 29th and Nov. 5th. On those two days, I will be meeting with students who send a draft by the end of class on the 6th. Due to those individual meetings, I will be less available to everyone else in Zoom on those two days, so send an email if you have questions, and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.  6  F. (We will not meet on Nov. 3rd due to the Election Day holiday. If you haven’t mailed in your ballot, then go vote!)  IV. Formatting & Mechanics   You will use at least four sources (any combination of journal articles, reference source articles, books, and/or videos) to support your arguments in this paper. If you fall short of four sources, you will lose 25 points for each one. Remember that you will also lose 25 points for each unapproved website (see section I.B.4.above).   If you have found books and want to show me any books you will be using on Zoom or through emailed photos and descriptions, I can help you figure out how to best use them. There are some books which have chapters written by different people; in that case, each chapter is a separate source. Some books have introductory material which is biographical or analytical, while the rest of the book could be full of that author’s stories or poems.   In-text citations should be used for all sources you’ve either quoted from or gotten ideas from, even if you’ve put those ideas in your own words. For books and PDF format articles (PDF would look like a photocopy of the original book/journal pages), you will use the author’s last name and the original page number in parentheses. For all other articles (those in HTML format, where you can’t see original page numbers) and videos, you will use just the author’s last name in parentheses. If your source does not have an author listed, you’ll cite the first few words of the source title (whatever the first few words are for that source as it is formatted on the Works Cited page) in parentheses. If you are citing sources in the text of the sentence and not in parenthesis, you can use the author’s/authors’ full name(s) and/or the full title of the article, book, or video.   All of the sources listed on your Works Cited page should be mentioned (cited) in the research paper itself.   I should be able to read the paper and check off every source you quote or paraphrase from using the Works Cited list, and when I finish reading the paper, there shouldn’t be any additional sources listed on that last page which weren’t used in the paper. If you initially found sources that you ended up not using in your paper, you will not list these on the works cited page. Make sure to use MLA format, not APA.   When referring to titles of articles, poems, short stories, chapters, or essays in your paper, those titles should be in quotation marks. (“The Flea”)   When referring to titles of plays, books, newspapers, magazines, or movies in your paper, those titles should be italicized. (The Cat in the Hat)  7   The length of the research paper should be at least 1300 words (including the Works Cited); it should also be double-spaced and typed in a standard font.   Avoid going above 1599 words (including the Works Cited page). Remember papers that are too long will be penalized.   Double space your name, my name, the course name, and the due date (line by line) in the upper left corner of the first page.   There will be no title page for this assignment; center the title on the line above the introductory paragraph, as with the first two essays.   You do not need to number your pages on this essay.   Use 3rd person point of view, no “you” or “I” words unless they’re part of a quote. Revisit the POV handout from the first essay for more details.   Refer to your author by his or her full name, last name, or a pronoun; don’t refer to the author by his or her first name only, unless you need to delineate in a sentence between/among two or more people sharing the same last name.   The final draft is due by the end of the day in on Tues., Nov. 10th.   If you submit anything other than your final draft and ask me to delete your submission so you can resubmit, there will be a ten-point penalty. Make sure you do a final save of your document and that the paper and Works Cited are all saved in one document before you submit.   See the Unit 4 link on the tool bar for details on what’s next.  Prewriting Worksheet: Questions to Get You Started  1. Who are one or two authors you’d be interested in learning more about, reading about, and writing about?  2. Can you think of at least three sources of inspiration or three influences on those authors’ writings? If not, quickly Google them or look them up on Wikipedia to see if you can come up with some early ideas of their influences or inspirations.  3. Now, if you’re still debating between/among two or more authors, look at your lists in #2 above and decide which one author is the best choice for your research paper.  4. Determine whether you can find adequate research sources for your author in the first week of this assignment. If not, try researching your second choice. By the end of the day on Oct. 20th, you should know for certain about whom you’ll be writing.

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