To what extent does a transgression impact all it touches?

Research Paper

A RESEARCH PAPER is an expanded essay that presents your own interpretation or evaluation or argument. When you write an essay, you use everything that you personally know and have thought about a subject. When you write a research paper you build upon what you know about the subject and make a deliberate attempt to find out what experts know. Research papers are intended to demonstrate a student’s academic knowledge of a subject and involve surveying the field of knowledge in order to find the best possible information to support and defend your assertions. Providing solid evidence for your argument is vital.

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Here is the first assignment required to complete this five-page, 1,250-word research paper:

STEP 1: Choose your topic

For your 1,250-1,500 word research paper, you can investigate any aspect of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet you desire. As this research paper accounts for a major portion (30%) of your course grade, be sure your topic is specific and defensible. Here are some ideas and concepts you might consider as you develop your topic and thesis statement:

Is appearance reality? Nothing is what it seems in this play, or is it?
Is Hamlet mad? Melancholy? Is he faking?
What is the nature of Hamlet’s relationship with his mother? Is he jealous of Claudius?
What conclusions can you draw from comparing/contrasting characters? Hamlet with Ophelia; with Laertes; with Fortinbras?
What is the role of Polonius?
Why does Fortinbras have the kingship at the end of the play? What does his ascension mean within the greater message of this tragedy?
Is Hamlet guilty of treason?
What is the balance between thought and action?
What is Ophelia’s role in the play?
To what extent does a transgression impact all it touches?
See what other critics have said about Hamlet. Find one with whom you disagree partially or entirely, then propose an alternative reading to theirs.

Need help to develop your ideas?
Writing a Research Paper: Generating Questions & Topics Workshop
(Links to an external site.)

Keep in mind you need to use direct quotes from Hamlet and your research to help back up your assertions and analysis.

Your goals for this research paper are:

1) to offer a point, thesis, or argument; and

2) to prove or convince someone that your point, thesis or argument is true by utilizing supporting evidence and research.

To accomplish this, you MUST provide cited evidence from the text and at least scholarly books or articles. EXAMPLE ESSAY

Some useful sites and information:


A research paper is about a writer trying to advance his or her thesis. It should then, primarily contain that writer’s words. It is not a copy and pasted collection of critical sources following one another like cars in a train. Various critical voices should never take over from the argument of the actual writer. In general, no more than 15% of the paper should be quoted material, and for every quote an author uses, an equal amount of space should be devoted to explaining what makes it relevant for the author’s argument. The writer should be able to answer the following two questions in ten seconds or less:

What is your thesis?
What are the primary reasons to validate your thesis?

Step-by-step guides:
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Writing a Research Paper

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Like any other piece of academic writing, the thesis should have support. Nothing changes with a research paper. Support your thesis with significant evidence and insight. Keep in mind, as the writer integrates other critics into the writing, that the support for the thesis should organize the paper—not the need to integrate critics.

STEP 2: Do your research (20 points)

All your research will come from resources within the PRCC Library system. These will take the form of ebooks or peer-reviewed periodicals. This will take some time to complete to gather the proper information necessary to support your thesis.

PRCC Accessing Library Resources

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EBSCOHOST Humanities International Complete Database (Peer-reviewed periodicals),cookie,uid&custid=magn0127&profile=ehost&defaultdb=hlh
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RESEARCH: ALL works cited in the course of your paper must have been obtained via a college library and be from peer-reviewed, scholarly sources. Do not use Wikipedia, Sparknotes or internet sources of that ilk.
SOURCES: You must use at least five critical sources in addition to the play itself as found in our textbook Portable Literature. This means a minimum of six sources in total.
CITATIONS: You must turn in 20 possible citations for this portion of the assignment. These can be quotes, paraphrases, or summaries you obtain from critical sources, with no more than 10 from the play itself. These should be numbered and include the quote/information you intend to use and pertinent citation information. Noting this information will make writing your rough draft and creating the works cited page easier. You will receive one point per citation. EXAMPLE: HAMLET RESEARCH – SAMPLE CITATIONS.docx

STYLE: You must follow MLA style for in-text citation of quoted materials, your Works Cited page, and general paper formatting.

Sample Work Cited Entry (spacing and indentation are not correct):

Shakespeare, William. “Hamlet.” Portable Literature: Reading, Reacting, and Writing. 9th ed., edited by Laurie G. Kirszner and Stephen R. Mandell, Cengage, 2016, pp. 1043-1152.

Watch a recording detailing PRCC Library resources and research methods by librarian Sarah Welch.

Why taking detailed and concise notes is important:
At all times during research and writing, guard against the possibility of inadvertent plagiarism by keeping careful notes that distinguish between your musings and thoughts and the material you gather from others. A writer who fails to give appropriate acknowledgment when repeating another’s wording or particularly apt term, paraphrasing another’s argument, or presenting another’s line of thinking is guilty of plagiarism. You may certainly use other persons’ words and thoughts in your research paper, but the borrowed material must not appear to be your creation.

Be original. Papers that are primarily (more than 50%) composed of sourced material will receive a grade of “0.”

STEP 3: Write your thesis (5 points)

Your paper should have a main purpose, central message, or position. This persuasive argument is contained in your thesis statement. Your thesis statement should tell your reader what the paper is about and also help guide your writing and keep your argument focused.

Writing a good thesis
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A thesis statement declares what you believe and what you intend to prove. A thesis is not a topic; nor is it a fact; nor is it strictly an opinion. After reading your thesis statement, the reader should think, “This essay is going to try to convince me of something. I’m not convinced yet, but I’m interested to see how I might be.” A good thesis has two parts. It should tell what you plan to argue, and it should “telegraph” how you plan to argue—that is, what particular support for your claim is going where in your essay.

STEP 4: Complete an outline (10 points)

The outline should have the subject/opening sentence of each paragraph and enumerate supporting ideas/plot. For an example of an outline, click here. <example of an outline
><Microsoft word outline template

Research Paper outline sample
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STEP 5: Upload your document

Submit your thesis, outline, and 20 citations in one document to this assignment. I will offer commentary and analysis on your argument and progression, making recommendations for the creation of your rough draft.


20 points – Research

15 points – Thesis & Outline

35 points – 1,250-word rough draft

10 points – Works Cited rough draft (minimum of six sources)

10 points – Answered self-review questions

10 points – Peer Review

400 points – Final Essay


500 points – TOTAL

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