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English 1302 - Bernal, Mary Anne: Research Essay (online class)

For this assignment, you will develop Essay 2 or Essay 3 into a longer essay that includes information found in reliable, academic secondary sources.

Searching as Strategic Exploration

Authors include James Baldwin, Edwidge Danticat, Amy Tan, Alice Munro, and more. Poets include Emily Dickinson, Pat Mora, W. H. Auden, Anne Bradstreet, Wordsworth, and more.

English 1302:  Research Essay (Documented Essay)


For this assignment, you will develop Essay 2 or Essay 3 into a longer essay that includes information found in reliable, academic secondary sources. Decide which of your essays would be interesting enough to develop further into an essay of approximately 1500 words (about 6 pages typed), using at least three acceptable sources of information beyond your textbook. All three sources need to be cited multiple times in the body of the essay and included on the Works Cited page along with your textbook. This assignment is an argument essay supporting a debatable claim. It should not be a plot summary, a biographical essay, OR a purely informative essay although information about the author, setting, cultural background of the story may be useful in developing your thesis about your chosen story or poems.


In your research start with literary criticism in literary databases to find out what other readers have said about the writer’s work in general or about this story or these poems in particular. After you look for literary criticism, broaden your search to non-literary databases that have articles on the issues in the work you are focusing on (like sibling relationships, parenting, monogamy, etc.). Choose your sources carefully as the quality of your sources impacts the quality of your essay. Acceptable sources include books, articles from SAC databases, author websites, government documents, and primary sources. General knowledge sources like Wikipedia and many .com sources like or will not count as sources.


After some thinking and preliminary researching, refine your thesis. It may be the same thesis you developed in your shorter essay or it may be different depending on your research. You will only receive credit for this assignment if I have an approved tentative thesis statement on file before the first draft is submitted.


As you start writing, you may simply add on to your writing in the original shorter essay, but it will probably be more effective to rearrange ideas as you find information in your sources. An outline will be useful in organizing your new information into your previous essay. You can refine your thesis: as you find other sources, you may want to change your original focus. Look for help on writing this type of essay in your textbook Chapter 20, “The Literature Research Essay.” Also see the sample essay in Chapter 22.


Deadlines for submitting your thesis, tentative sources, an outline, drafts and responses are in the course modules starting Week 10. This essay may not be turned in late. Please ask for help along the way and enjoy finding out about your subject.


This assignment addresses the following Student Learning Outcomes:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of individual and collaborative research processes.
  • Develop ideas and synthesize primary and secondary sources within focused academic arguments.
  • Analyze, interpret, and evaluate a variety of texts for the ethical and logical uses of evidence.
  • Write in a style that clearly communicates meaning, builds credibility, and inspires belief or action.
  • Apply the conventions of style manuals for specific academic disciplines (e.g. MLA).


Off-campus access

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

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