Research Essay Directions Task


Please read carefully the directions and requirements shown below for the third and final formal academic essay.

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As a college student, it is essential to be able to evaluate research sources in a carefully reasoned, objective fashion.  No matter what the context is, we need to be able to make informed choices about what sources we use in academic essays.


For this essay, you will be evaluating a database source found through the MATC Library in order to expand your information literacy.  The purpose of having you evaluate this type of source is meant to reinforce the idea that these sources are often the best for academic research.  And yet, even database sources should be evaluated carefully.

Important:  I strongly recommend you view the video presentation How to Complete the Research Essay.  This video will walk you through the process of completing this essay, from finding a source, to evaluating it systematically and persuading the reader.

Note:  Some of the essay should or will have been completed for the Research Analysis Assignment.  Use my comments on this assignment to help you to complete the essay.

General Directions


Find the Database Source

Select one full-text database source using the drop-down menu on the A-Z Databases page on the MATC Library Web site.  Choose a subject closely related to your program, academic aspirations, or career goals.  Then, using search terms, find one source (such as a journal article) about a topic that interests you. 


For example, if your career goals are healthcare related, you might choose a source from the Health & Wellness Resource Center; your search terms might be something like nutrition for seniors.  This database can be found by clicking on the Health & Medicine subject link.  Or, if your goals are related to science and technology, you could choose a source from the Science Reference Center database; in this case, your search terms might be something like computer programming.  This database can be found by clicking on the Science & Technology subject link.  Be sure you choose a full-text source that is about a topic that is clearly related to your program, academic interests, or career goals.


Evaluate the Database Source
Once you’ve chosen the source, evaluate it using criteria or categories for evaluation you have chosen from the list on page 380 in Rules, in the box titled Determining if a source is scholarly.  Choose the criteria which you think will be the most effective in evaluating the source you’ve chosen for a general college-educated audience.  If you’ve chosen to evaluate the credentials of the author(s) of a source, for instance, you may need to do additional research. You must use at least four criteria to evaluate the source.


Persuade Your Readers
The ultimate purpose of the essay is to persuade your readers why the source you have evaluated is or is not an appropriate source of research for a college student like you. You will determine this based upon your evaluation of how the source meets or doesn’t meet the criteria you’ve chosen.

Using Secondary Sources

For the secondary sources cited in your essay, you must include copies of the pages from which the cited material was taken.  If possible, the easiest way to do this is to copy and paste your source material into the same word processed document containing the essay or to provide links to your sources on the essay’s Works Cited pageNote that this requirement does not include our Rules text.

If you have trouble finding a source, you should contact me. Failure to provide copies of or links to the source(s) will result in an evaluation of no better than a 70. 


Specific Directions


Each of the following elements should be included in your essay:


  • An introduction paragraph that gains the reader’s attention with a hook, states the essay’s main idea, and offers a clear statement of purpose

  • A body paragraph (or paragraphs) that includes a description of each criterion—including why you believe each one is important―which you’ll use to evaluate the source. The source for these criteria must be documented.   A minimum of four criteria is required. These criteria must come from the box titled Determining if a source is scholarly on page 380 of Rules.  Additionally, the source of the explanations of the criteria must be documented.  These explanations are provided in the document titled Understanding Criteria for Evaluating Scholarly Sources, which is located in the Course Reader.

  • A thorough summary of the database source you’ve chosen to evaluate.

  • A discussion/evaluation of how the source meets (or doesn’t meet) each criterion, which offers specific examples from the source being discussed, in the form of quotations, summaries, or paraphrases.

  • A conclusion paragraph that summarizes the key qualities and deficiencies of the source based on the criteria and effectively persuades the reader that the source is or is not appropriate for an academic essay.


Evaluation Criteria

Beyond the list of criteria for successful English 201 essays listed in your syllabus, I’ll be evaluating the second draft of the essay based on my answers to the following questions:

  • Does the introduction paragraph catch the reader’s interest by using a question, a reason people feel the topic is interesting or important, and introduce the concept of information literacy?
  • Do the topic, main idea, and a clear statement of purpose appear in the first paragraph?  Does the essay demonstrate an awareness of its intended audience?
  • Is the essay organized in a logical fashion, following the sequence described above?
  • Are the criteria from page 380 of Rules defined and explained clearly?  Are a minimum of four criteria or categories for evaluation used?  Is the source of the criteria documented appropriately?
  • Is the source of the criteria explanations used and documented appropriately?
  • Is the full-text database source clearly summarized and evaluated, using specific examples so the reader understands the evaluation without having to read the source?
  • Does the writer persuade the reader in the conclusion paragraph that the source is or is not appropriate for an academic essay?
  • Does the essay use MLA documentation appropriately for all the sources used, including any supplementary sources about the author(s)?
  • Are in-text citations presented and placed appropriately, with correctly presented corresponding entries on the Works Cited page?



Write the essay as though it were being read by a general college-educated audience. See my definition of this audience.  In other words, think like a college writer.  Write to an educated reader who is not familiar with what we’re reading or discussing in this course.



The first draft of your essay should be a minimum of two double-spaced typed pages, using one-inch margins and Times New Roman 12-point font.  The second draft should be a minimum of three double-spaced pages.  This does not include the required Works Cited page for the second draft.



The essay should be presented using MLA Documentation style.  This includes general formatting as well as in-text citations and a Works Cited page. Use the model essay that begins on page 468 (absent the graphics) in Rules as a guide.   No title pages, please.


Drafts and Due Dates

You’ll be writing at least two drafts of this essay, and completing one peer review, which are due on the following dates:

  • First draft.  Due Sunday, December 1.  You must submit a copy of your draft to me and have your first draft peer reviewed by a member of your group.  You must also peer review another group member’s first draft. First drafts will receive up to 28 points, based upon length and formatting.

  • Peer Response Feedback Form 3.  Due Wednesday, December 4.  You must submit to me a copy of your peer review of another group member’s first draft.  Please include your group member’s first draft with your peer review. Peer reviews will receive between 1 and 5 points.  Points will be deducted if the comments are merely perfunctory (for example, simply answering every question with “yes” or “no”) or are apparently not useful to the writer.

  • Second draft.  Due Sunday, December 8.  When you submit your second draft, please include the following:

    • Your peer’s Peer-Response Feedback Form 3 in the same file/document.  Place it after the second draft’s Works Cited page.  Additionally, be sure that the second draft is the first one that appears in the document.

    • Copies of or links to the sources you’ve referred to in the essay.  Copies should be placed after the Works Cited page. 

Failure to provide copies or links to the sources on the Works Cited page will result in an evaluation of no better than a 70.

You may complete a third draft of this essay to improve its evaluation by up to 10 percent. 


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