Research essay | English homework help

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1) Choose one of the PRIMARY SOURCES= original works

  • Chopin, Kate. “The Story of an Hour”
  • Hemingway, “Hills Like White Elephants”
  • Poe, Edgar Allan. “The Masque of the Red Death”
  • Poe, Edgar Allan. “The Raven” (read ahead on your own)
  • Walker, Alice. “Everyday Use”

2) Research a SECONDARY SOURCE (= this will be an essay about the PRIMARY source work you have chosen). So if you choose to write about “Story of an Hour,” you will research and read a SECONDARY source critical essay ON “Story of an Hour.”)

  • Go to the Library Choose “A-Z Databases.”
  • Use these databases: Bloom’s Literature, Literary Reference Center Plus, or Proquest.
  • Search on the title of the story (= PRIMARY SOURCE).
  • Choose one critical essay (LITERARY CRITICISM), that has a thesis about the primary source you chose. This is the SECONDARY SOURCE.

NOTE: The critical essay (=secondary source) should have an author, and MUST EXPRESS A THESIS about the PRIMARY SOURCE you have chosen.

3) Complete the Overview Sheet–there is a separate assignment sheet for this. 

4) Write: Your essay should:

  • Include at least one sentence stating the author and title of the PRIMARY SOURCE work (=the story title), and a general plot summary of the work. Include any additional information about the PRIMARY SOURCE that (you think) is important/significant.
  • Summarize the critical essay’s (the secondary source’s) thesis (=main idea) about the primary source.
  • State whether you agree, disagree (or both) with the thesis expressed by the author of the critical essay.
  • Based on your own understanding/interpretation of the story (primary source), state why you agree/disagree with the secondary source author.
  • State what new insights you learned about the primary source from reading the critical essay (the secondary source).

5) Citing sources:

  • Use in-text references in MLA style when you directly quote or paraphrase the primary and secondary sources;
  • Include a Works Cited page in MLA style. See Canvas the Purdue Owl website for help.

How to Upload 1) the Research Overview:


How to Upload 2) the Completed Research Essay:

Go to the Module> UPLOAD ASSIGNMENTS HERE: “Research ESSAY”

Note: Mac users: use Chrome rather than Safari. If you receive an error message, try again; if you continue to have problems, contact the HelpDesk.


  • Papers received after the due date are marked down (see syllabus).
  • Wikipedia, blogs, Web-based student or for-hire papers, shmoop.com, CliffNotes, SparkNotes, and other “notes” are not legitimate scholarship and will not be accepted as a secondary source.
  • If any part of your paper is not your own work and you have not given credit to the author, you will give yourself zero points with NO REWRITE ALLOWED. See the syllabus for other plagiarism penalties.

Additional notes on researching:

PLEASE DO NOT USE GOOGLE. Use the sources in Berkeley College Library Databases.

Web sources: Research in Berkeley College Library Databases to find a critical essay.

Use any of these databases:

Literary Reference Center Plus. Search by story title. Limit results to “Full text.” Narrow results by Source Type: “Literary Criticism.”

Bloom’s Literary Reference Online. Search by story title. Narrow results to select “Criticism.”

ProQuest. Search on the title of the primary source (for example, “Story of an Hour”).

Read a few essays; choose one whose argument you understand and want to write about. Some articles may not have an author. Try to find one with an author.

The essay you choose should be longer than 2 or 3 paragraphs. Make sure the essay makes an argument, and is not simply a summary of the work.

Read and be sure that you understand the main point of the critical essay. See me if you have any questions.

Follow MLA style for in-text citations and Works Cited page.

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