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10-15 page research paper on History of Capital Punishment


Melanie Rose 2 / 5  
Apr 18, 2009   #1
Hello,

Currenty I am taking an Honors English class. Our assignment was to write a 10-15 research paper. We were given a whole list of what we could choose for our topic. For some reason I choose the death penalty. I am interested and want to know about the history, but I now realize that it is a very controversial topic. My teacher really wants us to give information on the research, not our own oppinion(except if we want at the conclusion we can give our stand on what we believe).

I've gotten tons of books on it, and have been studying up at it, but have not started the writing process yet!!! Today is April 18th and our rought draft is due May 8th! I just have had real trouble trying to get started on it, because we really haven't had instruction as how a research paper or the format of a research paper should be.

I really would like to start out with the history of the Death Penalty first(where and when it started, what did they do to execute people and what were the reasons why). Then maybe go on to the price of keeping someone in prison for the rest of their lives vs. executing the person. Then cover the statistics of people being executed in the US and lead into my next point, and find statistics on people that were executed but were really innocent. I know i need a thesis statement but i'm not sure how to go about making that with the points I would like covered in my research topic.

If you could at all help me with anything It would be greaty appreciated.
Thanks,
Melanie
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Apr 18, 2009   #2
Think of this as 5 three-page papers.

Each of the five covers a section of the paper... history, philosophical debate, important incidents, legislation, modern arguments for each side, etc... whatever topics are covered in that collection of books you amassed, those are the sections of your essay.

Do not worry about the sections right away. Instead, just start enjoying one of the books. When you feel inspired to write about it, write a paragraph:

[name of author] explains that capital punishment is as old as mankind itself...

Do this for each work you read, and enjoy it. Put a parenthetical reference after each paragraph you write. Write a para or 2, or 3, for each book/article.

you could write a 100 page paper if you had to!

Whan you have a collection of blurbs about what this person and that person wrote, put them in a cool order. Create a few section headings for your paper.

Here is a paper for inspiration. Look at some of the sources used: ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/cp00.pdf
michaelfrye1970 9 / 21  
Apr 18, 2009   #3
Kevin,
That was really good advice. I will be using myself soon. Never thought of doing it that way but it makes sense.
OP Melanie Rose 2 / 5  
Apr 18, 2009   #4
Kevin,

Thank you for your help! I just discovered this website today. It is a great website!

What exactly is a "parenthetical" reference??

And section headings for the research paper would be like one of those five topics of capital punishment. So for example, as a heading I would put History of the Death Penalty??

I was reading another "thread" and it was about a person trying to create their outline on the death penalty. It talked about the thesis statement alot, and now I'm confused on what a thesis statement really is. In research papers were suppose to inform people,not persuade them on what we believe, giving them both the pros and cons of the subject. It seems as though a thesis statement is stating what you believe is right and I know your really not suppose to do that in a research paper except in the conclusion maybe. So how do I go about writing the thesis statement in a research paper?

Thank you,

Melanie
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Apr 19, 2009   #5
What exactly is a "parenthetical" reference??

Google, the all-knowing overmind, will tell you. It's just a method of citing your sources. Some citation styles use footnotes or endnotes, but most use parenthetical references, or at least give you the option of using them. Unfortunately, this means you will need to check with your teacher to see which style you are supposed to be using -- MLA, APA, Chicago, Harvard, etc. Then, once you know what style you need to use, Google it to find out the correct format.

And section headings for the research paper would be like one of those five topics of capital punishment. So for example, as a heading I would put History of the Death Penalty??

That would work, and make it easy for the reader to follow your essay.

It seems as though a thesis statement is stating what you believe is right and I know your really not suppose to do that in a research paper except in the conclusion maybe. So how do I go about writing the thesis statement in a research paper?

Well, usually you would still argue something; you would just argue it with only reference to research sources, instead of injecting your own personal opinions in to the essay. Check out: esc.edu/htmlpages/writerold/menud.htm for more details. If you absolutely aren't allowed to do that, though, you could always craft a research question. So, start out with a question that you hope to answer through your research instead of a thesis. Then, in your conclusion, you simply have to write down your answer based upon the research you did. So, think of what your thesis would be if you were allowed to have one, then turn it into a question in the intro, essentially.
EF_Sean 6 / 3,491  
Apr 20, 2009   #7
Okay, then. There are plenty of online sites that will give you the correct formatting for parenthetical references and for the works cited page for MLA citation style. Also, if you are using the latest version of MS Word, you can autoformat your citations, which saves some time.


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