Skip to main content

American Author Project (10th Grade): The Research Paper Process

How many sources are required?

Students in Regular English: 6 secondary sources (plus your 1-2 primary sources)

Students in Honors English: 8 secondary sources (plus your 2-3 primary sources)

Ms. McMahon and Mr. Quinn are available to help!  Drop by the library anytime, or email us for additional help, or to make an appointment for individual help.  We won't be able to help you unless you let us know!

For All Students

Research Paper Process 


Note:  You can check out sample term papers on an overnight basis; see your teacher if you're interested.


I.  Method


1.  Set up a Noodletools account by using the Google App accessible from your MBA Gmail.  Create your project (call it "English II Research Paper" or s/t your teacher requests) and share your project with your teacher.  Then begin learning the way Noodletools works to create bibliographical cards and notecards, and how one uses Noodletools to organize research materials.   

Tip:  Whenever you read a critical article in a book or journal and decide to take some notes, ALWAYS create the bibliographical citation in Noodletools first before you write a notecard in Noodletools. Then limit your notecards to one major idea per card.

2.  Begin your research by looking for books and ebooks that are in the MBA Library (see the tab above for online resources).  Go to Destiny (and click the word catalog twice), our online library catalog, and search for books about your authors and the historical era of your novels.  You should also look for reference books in the reference section of our library.

3.  If you cannot find critical books about your author or subject, search the catalog of the Vanderbilt Library (called Acorn) and the Public Library.  You can find these links on this libguide.  You should request books from Vanderbilt as soon as possible because they take a week to arrive.

4.  Research our databases: Literary Reference Center Plus, Gale Literary Sources, Salem Literature, Bloom’s Literary Reference Online, and JSTOR (see the tab above for databases).

5.  Check American Author Websites suggested on the online sources tab above.  CAUTION: you must have your teacher's approval to use any of these websites as a source!

6.  Only use Google and other such mass search engines and encyclopedias to help you find other genuinely scholarly sources (such as the sources in 2-4 above).  You can write this paper without ever searching the internet for other sites.  As a bonus, all of the databases and ebooks will have the correct MLA citation that you can use in Quick Cite.

7.  Your teacher will explain how to manage your notecards and bibliographical citations in Noodletools.  You will take many more notecards than you will use in your final draft because you will focus your topic the closer you get to writing your outlines and final draft.

8.  Your teacher will explain how to build an outline for this essay that will have more than five paragraphs.

9.  After you have turned in a rough and final outline that will be graded, you will write your essay during the last week, spending five classes typing the paper in the computer lab or on computers in class.  Your teacher will show you samples of introductions, body paragraphs, and conclusions and guide you through the process of combining critics’ ideas with your own.  You will learn how to quote and paraphrase critics and how to cite them correctly.


         Your teacher will specify the exact values of the notecards, outlines, rough drafts, and final draft.  If your teacher can grade your final drafts before the end of the third quarter, then your research paper will count 50% of the third quarter grade.  Otherwise, the research paper preparation will count 20% of the third quarter grade, and the final draft will count 30% of the fourth quarter.  All preparatory assignments must be completed; a heavy penalty will be placed on tardy work.  If you don't complete one of the preparatory assignments, you will receive an "incomplete" on the research paper and an "incomplete" for the quarter until the entire assignment is finished.