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How to Organize a Research Paper and Document It with MLA Citations

Build your work on solid ground!
Last update August 2008

Important -Please Read This First

This web site is written for beginning writers. It refers
students to important web sites on the Internet. It also
attempts to help them organize a research paper and document
its sources in a bibliographic format recommended by the
Modern Language Association, MLA.
Note: All titles are shown in italics. Some teachers may prefer that you underline the titles.


To access the site map click

HERE


Modern Language Association style (MLA) requires that you have a heading
on the first page of your paper and that a list of resources utilized
in your paper appear at the end. The title Works Cited should be
centered one inch from the top on the last page of the paper. Double space
between the title and the first entry. Double space within and between entries.

MLA format requires the second line of the citation to be
indented five spaces.The indentations shown on this web site
are an approximation of a five space indentation.


View a sample heading


View a sample works cited page

Table of Contents

Resources
  • Research Sites
  • Literary and History Links
  • Library of Congress
  • On-Line Dictionary

  • Citing Conventional Sources
  • Citing Online Material
  • Citing CD-ROMS And CD Databases
  • Writer's checklist
  • Words of advice

      A Research Paper is a Tree

      Click below to learn how to organize your research paper-

      The Outline Tree

      <+++>


      This web page will discuss how to organize a
      research paper and how to prepare documentation for MLA
      citations. It will illustrate the outlining process with an
      analogy comparing a research paper to a tree. The reader may
      then click the indicator to see an example outline that follows
      the analogy.


  • It's easy to think of a well written essay
    as a healthy tree with its roots deep in the ground.
    If your research is strong, your paper
    will flourish because it will be founded upon
    well grounded ideas. Your thesis or hypothesis
    forms the trunk of the tree. All of your
    proof will branch off from this point.
    Your main ideas that support the thesis will be
    the branches, and the examples you give to
    discuss and explain the main ideas will be
    the twigs.



    Click below to learn how to organize your research paper-

    The Outline Tree

    <+++>

    Research Sites

    Popular Sites for Research

  • CNN News
  • New York Times
  • The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia
  • Biography Search

    Literary Links

  • Great Books Online -- Your first stop for original texts and information about authors
  • A Writer's Guide to Literary Terms, Grammar and Style
  • Punctuation Made Simple
  • Semantic Rhyming Dictionary
  • Outline of American Literature
  • American Transcendentalism Web
  • The Voice of the Shuttle, English Literature
  • Luminarium: English Literature up to the 17th Century
  • Feminist Writers and Philosophers

    Historical Links

    These links will change periodically

  • Georgetown University Middle Ages Site Locator -The Labyrinth
  • Outline of American History
  • American Women's History
  • World Atlas


    If you cannot find a book or a magazine about your topic in

    the local library, consider searching the Library of Congress.

    You may be able to order the book through interlibrary loan.

    Your local librarian can advise you as to the procedure.

    Use the site at : http://www.loc.gov to search for a book

    on your subject.


    Click Here to access the Library of Congress Catalog




    On-Line Dictionary


    Consult the dictionary to minimize
    spelling and usage errors.
    Try the following helpful link!
    It includes a thesaurus.

    Yahoo Reference Dictionary


    Or try this link to challenge yourself!

    The Dictionary of Difficult Words


    THE OUTLINE TREE

    Think of your outline for the paper as a tree
    with bare branches.
    After you have chosen your
    thesis (trunk) and your main ideas (branches).
    You will add the --
    1.twigs (supporting ideas)
    2. and the leaves (details).

    A research paper is a combination of facts and
    opinions. Your thesis statement is an opinion,
    but you have to support it with facts in order
    to convince the reader
    that your argument is valid.


    Thesis: This statement belongs in your first
    paragraph. The thesis is the point
    that you are going to argue in your paper.
    Branches: The main ideas that support the thesis.
    Twigs: The supporting ideas and the details (leaves) that
    develop from the main ideas (branches).
    Conclusion: A restatement of the strongest points
    of your argument.


    Your thesis or hypothesis
    forms the trunk of the tree. All of your
    proof will branch off from this point.
    Your main ideas that support the thesis will be
    the branches, and the examples you give to
    discuss and explain the main ideas will be
    the twigs and leaves.


    TRUNK (OR THESIS)


    THE INTERNET IS EMERGING AS A POPULAR FORM OF INTERACTIVE
    WORLD WIDE COMMUNICATION THAT MIRRORS AND SUPPLEMENTS
    THE ROLE OF THE TELEVISION IN OUR SOCIETY.

    BRANCHES

    THE MOST IMPORTANT POINTS (MAIN IDEAS) YOU CAN
    MAKE TO SUPPORT THE THESIS. FOR EXAMPLE:


    1. The Internet Entertains.
    2. It Informs And Educates.
    3. It Advertises Goods and Services.

    TWIGS:


    SUPPORTING IDEAS WHICH WILL BE USED TO DISCUSS
    THE MAIN IDEAS ( BRANCHES).

    • LISTED BELOW, YOU WILL FIND AN EXAMPLE OF THE
      BRAINSTORMING YOU CAN DO TO SUPPORT YOUR MAIN IDEAS.
    • AFTER YOU GENERATE YOUR IDEAS, YOU SHOULD ORGANIZE
      THEM INTO A COHERENT ESSAY.

      TWIG 1:
      ENTERTAINMENT

    • THE INTERNET ENTERTAINS BY PROVIDING INFORMATION
      ABOUT SPORTS, GAMES, MOVIES AND FASHION TO ITS USERS
      IN A MULTIMEDIA ENVIRONMENT.
    • TELEVISION IS SIMILAR TO THE INTERNET BECAUSE
      IT PROVIDES ENTERTAINMENT IN THE SAME CATEGORIES
      OF INTEREST.
    • ON T.V., THE INFORMATION IS VIDEOTAPED OR LIVE;
      ON THE NET, THE ENTERTAINMENT IS STORED ON VARIOUS
      SERVERS AND CAN USUALLY BE CALLED UP AT ANY TIME.
    • THE NIELSON COMPANY, WHICH IS WELL KNOWN FOR
      COMPILING TELEVISION RATINGS, HAS DETERMINED THAT
      51% OF THE INTERNET'S USERS SEEK ENTERTAINMENT ON
      THE INTERNET.

      TWIG 2:
      INFORMATION AND EDUCATION


    • TEACHERS USE THE INTERNET TO POST INFORMATION
      FOR STUDENTS. THEY MAY ALSO PROVIDE INTERACTIVE
      PRACTICE EXAMS FOR STUDENTS TO TAKE ON-LINE.
      ON-LINE SERVICES PROVIDE HOMEWORK HELP FOR STUDENTS.
    • CITIZENS WILL FIND THAT ELECTRONIC MAGAZINES
      AND JOURNALS PROVIDE UP TO DATE INFORMATION
      ABOUT BUSINESS, THE ECONOMY AND CURRENT EVENTS.
    • IN ADDITION, ON LINE SERVICES OFFER FINANCIAL
      INFORMATION ABOUT STOCKS, BONDS AND MUTUAL FUNDS.
    • ACCORDING TO NIELSON SURVEYS, 49% OF INTERNET
      USERS UPDATE THEMSELVES WITH NEWS AND CURRENT EVENTS
      ON LINE. 26% SEEK FINANCIAL INFORMATION ON LINE.
    • THE INTERNET IS MORE INTERACTIVE THAN TELEVISION
      IN THAT THE CONSUMER PLAYS A GREATER ROLE IN CHOOSING
      THE INFORMATION TO WHICH HE OR SHE WILL BE EXPOSED.

      TWIG 3:
      ADVERTISING

    • LARGE COMPANIES INCLUDING SOFTWARE MANUFACTURERS
      AND CLOTHING RETAILERS AS WELL AS SMALL BUSINESSES
      AND COMPUTER SOFTWARE ENTREPRENEURS ADVERTISE GOODS
      AND SERVICES VIA THE WORLD WIDE WEB.
    • SMALL BUSINESSES HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO OBTAIN LOW
      COST ADVERTISING BY MAINTAINING A WEB SITE. MANY LARGE
      BUSINESSES ADVERTISE ON THE WEB AS WELL AS ON T.V.SOME
      COMPANIES ALLOW CUSTOMERS TO SELECT MERCHANDISE ON-LINE.
    • MANY WEB PAGES SERVE THE SAME FUNCTION AS COMMERCIALS,
      ON T.V. THEY HELP GAIN RECOGNITION FOR THE COMPANY OR ITS
      PRODUCTS.

      CONCLUSION

      THE INTERNET'S POPULARITY IS ASSURED DUE TO
      THE WIDE VARIETY OF INFORMATION AND SERVICES AVAILABLE TO
      ITS USERS. NOT ONLY DOES IT PROVIDE VISUAL ENTERTAINMENT
      SIMILAR TO TELEVISION, BUT IT ALSO BRINGS TO THE USER A
      GREATER SELECTION OF MATERIAL TO VIEW AND TO CHOOSE FROM.
      THE CONSUMER, THEREFORE, BECOMES AN INTERACTIVE PARTICIPANT
      RATHER THAN A PASSIVE RECEIVER OF INFORMATION.


      THE NEXT SECTION of this paper will show how you can
      document research in the Modern Language Association
      style for writers of research papers.



      TO TOP OF SITE

      Citing Material from Conventional Sources

      Titles of books, magazines, and newspapers should be shown
      in italics or underlined. Here is an example of how to cite
      a book, magazine or newspaper using the
      MLA format.


      Mossberg, Walter. "A Mall World, After All."

                               Smart Money     April 1996: 152-54.


  • Here is the order of references in the preceeding

    Author's Last Name, First Name."Title of Article."

    Title of Magazine or Newspaper Day

    Month Year of Publication: page(s).


    Here is an example of how to cite a book using MLA format.


    Williams, Bard. The Internet for Teachers. Foster City, CA: IDG, 1995.


    Here is the order of references in the

    proceeding MLA citation.

    Author's Last Name, First Name. Title of Book.

    City of Publication, State of Publication:

    Publisher, Copyright date.


    If you have two authors for a book, invert

    only the first name. For example: Smith, Tom,

    and Marcy Jones.

    Note: The state of publication is cited only if the city

    is not well known. If the city of publication is well known,

    cite only the city of publication.

    (for example New York: Knopf, 1989).

    If you are citing from an anthology, you must

    cite the title of the selection, the editor, and the edition.

    List the total number of volumes and cite the volume

    you are using within a parenthetical in the text

    of your paper. example: volume 2 page 151 (2:151).

    If you are are using only one volume, cite the

    specific volume number in the works cited section, and

    the page number only in the parenthetical (151).

    (see example below)

    Wordsworth, William. "Tintern Abbey." The 

    	Norton Anthology of English Literature.

    	Ed. M.H. Abrams. 5th ed. vol. 2 New York:

    	Norton, 1986. 

    TO TOP OF SITE


    Use the following format to cite an encyclopedia.

    Smith, John. "Bats."Academic American. 1995 ed.


    Here is the order of references in the preceeding citation.

    Author's Last Name, First Name."Title of Article."

                     Title of Encyclopedia. Year of Edition.
    

    Citing Information
    found on the Internet

      Students need to be aware of how to cite
      information which is found on the Internet.
      You can buy the 6th edition of the MLA Handbook for a reasonable price.


      To buy the book go to

      Official MLA Internet Site



      Click on publications and then
      MLA Handbook

      Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of

       "Research Papers. 6th ed. New York: MLA, 2003.


      Internet Personal Site or Home page

      Last name of author, first.Name of page or home page. Date of latest

      	revision. Date of access Web address.

      Capley, Suzanne. Jane Austen's Works.     1 Sept. 2000. 4 Sept. 2000

      	http://members.aol.com/suze.htm


      Citing Journals
      (Daily Newspapers
      and other Periodicals)
      that appear on the Internet



       Elliott, Stuart. "Nielsen Unit Offers Data

                About  Internet  Users."     New York Times 

                22 July 1996. 22 Sept. 1996

      	 	  http://www.nytimes.com/library/articles/users.html. 


      Here is the order of references

      in the preceding MLA citation.

      Note that you do not use a period after the title

      of a magazine, journal, or newspaper.

      Last Name of Author, First Name. The Title of article in quotes.

      The Magazine or Newspaper in which the article was first published.

      The date of original publication. The date of access.

      The URL.


      TO TOP OF SITE


      Citing CD-ROMS and Diskettes

      Kennedy, Lauren. "Emily Dickinson." Grolier Multimedia

                               Encyclopedia. CD-ROM. Macintosh ed.1997.

              Danbury, CT: Grolier, 1997.


      The previous citation included the following references:

      The Last Name of the Author, First Name."The Name

      of the Article."The Title of the CD-ROM. Medium (CD-ROM).

      The Version or Edition. The Place of Publication. The Publisher

      and Date of CD-ROM.

      If you do not have all of the information that is required,

      cite what you have.


      Citing Periodically Updated

      Internet Databases


      For example: Academic Search Elite

      Hinrichsen, Don."Nepal --A Common Future." Populi     

             March 1992:178+. Academic Search Elite. Ebscohost Web.

             Kean University Library, Union. 11 Oct. 2000.

      The previous citation included the following references.

      The Last Name of the Author, First Name. "Title of the Article."

      The Magazine in which the Article first appeared. The Date of

      publication: The page the article starts on

      (The plus indicates that the article is more than one page).

      The database. The service,

      (Ebscohost in this example). The place, and city of access.

      The date of access.


      Beginning Writer's Checklist

      1. Did you plan your essay before beginning to write?
      2. Have you used an introduction, supporting arguments
        and a conclusion?
      3. Are the sources used in your paper acknowledged in a
        works cited section?

      WORDS OF ADVICE

    1. Be sure to write down all of the information
      you need to prepare the citations while you are
      doing your research.
    2. Don't forget to underline the titles of books,
      magazines and newspapers or place the titles in
      italics.
    3. When completing research on the Internet, be
      sure to print out any information which is
      essential to your research and record the date
      of access.
    4. If you don't know very much about your topic
      when you get started, you may have to do some
      preliminary research to decide upon your thesis
      and to determine the main points you would like
      to discuss.
    5. Once you have decided upon a thesis (trunk)
      and your main points (branches), prepare a brief
      outline like the example shown in the outline tree.

      Click the exit sign to return to the list of popular

      research sites and the outline tree.


    6. LINK TO- Table of Contents

      For a site map click on

      GO