Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

English 1302 - Garza, Antonio: Finding and Evaluating a Source

Research Paper

Searching as Strategic Exploration

ENGL 1302

Research Paper

For your final project, you will choose to research a topic that you discovered as we discussed poetry and fiction in our course this semester. That is, you must research and write an informal essay on a topic that must relate to an issue discussed during one of the readings. Possible topics: racism, sexism, classism, parental dominance, ethnic identity, etc.

Length: 5 to 6 pages (approximately 1,000 to 1,200 words)


1. This paper is in the form of an I-search narrative. That is, you may sparingly write in first person and must incorporate one primary source and at least two secondary sources in your paper. 

  • Your paper must have an introduction that presents the social or cultural issue under discussion. Your introduction must have a hook that grabs your reader’s attention and a bridge that transitions from the hook to the thesis. The thesis must state your topic and the objectives (reasons) for exploring your topic. The thesis should be the last sentence in your introduction.

THESIS TEMPLATE: In “___________,” the author presents ____________; it is a subject that I would like to explore due to ____________.

THESIS: In “Knock Knock,” Daniel Beaty presents issues with racism; racism is a subject that I would like to explore due to its effects on the African-American community.

  • Your paper must have at least five body paragraphs that develop the thesis by illustrating, addressing and/or highlighting the objectives (reasons) for exploring your topic. Each body paragraph must have a topic sentence that develops and supports the thesis. You may use the following prompts to frame your essay, but you are not limited to them:
    • the most interesting or fascinating discovery about your topic during your research (Provide an example from one your sources.)
    • the most upsetting discovery about your topic during your research--if any (Provide an example from one of your sources.)
    • new information you discovered (Were you surprised? Provide an example from one of your sources.)
    • A new perspective on your topic (This could be something you learned or gained during your research. Provide an example from one your sources.)
    • A reason to continue to explore your topic at a later date or in another course (You may include questions you may wish to pursue about your topic and why.)

  • Your paper must have a conclusion that fully closes out the essay and provides a call to action, warning, prediction or evaluation of the conflict of the social or cultural issue of your topic.

NOTE: You may decide to expand one of your journals and use any portion of it in your essay--provided it meets the requirements of this assignment. You must give your paper an original title related to your topic.

2. The paper must incorporate three (3) sources: one primary and at least two secondary sources of various types chosen from the list below:

Primary source:

  • one poem or short story discussed this semester

Secondary sources:

  • book chapter or book
  • newspaper article (online or print)
  • article from a journal in an online database (SAC library preferred.)  
  • personal interview
  • documentary
  • music video

3. The paper must be in MLA format, double-spaced in Times New Roman, font size 12. All direct quotes and paraphrases must be attributed to the source with a signal phrase and must include an in-text citation. You must provide a works-cited list at the end of your document which must begin at the top of the last page. All sources must be properly cited on your works-cited list. I suggest that you also consult the textbook (pp. 57-64), MLA handbook, or Purdue OWL.

NOTE: For a review of incorporating direct quotes, paraphrases, and in-text citations, refer to packet 1 on poetry analysis and packet 2 on fiction analysis.

4. Submit the I-search paper on the appropriate assignment link on Canvas.

NOTE: An I-search paper not submitted on Canvas so that it is checked for plagiarism through will not be accepted for any reason. That is, I will not accept your final project as an email attachment.


Students will understand how to create a flexible search strategy for an assignment


S.1.  Utilize divergent (brainstorming) and convergent (e.g., selecting the best source) thinking when searching;

S. 2.  match information needs and search strategies to appropriate search tools; and

S. 3.  use different types of searching language appropriately.


K. 1.  Realize that information sources vary greatly in content and format and have varying relevance and value, depending on the needs and nature of the search; and

K. 2.  recognize the value of browsing and persistence.

  • Identifying and Negotiating a Research Topic
    How to identify a viable topic and negotiate changes in your topic as you go
  • Reference Sources for Background and Context on a Topic
    Find articles that summarize the topic, explain key concepts, define terminology and much more
  • Finding Books
    Find items held at SAC (books, videos, journal holdings, etc.)
  • Finding Articles
    Find articles, essays, and book chapters
  • Requesting Items not available at SAC
    Interlibrary Loan
  • Evaluating Your sources
    Some tips on how to evaluate the sources you've found
  • Citing Your Sources
    Guides and resources for preparing your bibliography
  • Getting Help
    Ask a Librarian!

Search Examples from Tools

Tool: Library Discovery

Try an all-in-one search for topics to get articles, books, and more. Use quotation marks "for phrases" and the * to pick up alternate endings in your search string.

Off-campus access

Library databases require a login from off-campus!

  • ACES username is required for login
  • ACES password is your password for login

What does the login page look like?


San Antonio College Library
Located in the Moody Learning Center (MLC), floors 2-4
1819 North Main Avenue., San Antonio, TX 78212
Call us: (210) 486-0570 | Send Email