100 Instructions for Writing Your Paper

Instructions for Writing Your Paper

The assignment is to write a research-based persuasion paper. The purpose of the paper is to persuade the reader that your main idea sentence is true. Your grade will be determined by how closely you stick to the following directions:

1. The introductory paragraph should include the main idea sentence in a way that gets the reader involved (McPherson and Cowan 255-275). Suppose your main idea is that it was a good idea that New York State established the death penalty in 1995. Instead of merely stating that, you might say the following:

“Crime is one of the most serious problems facing New York State today. Many people are reluctant to go out after dark. They huddle at home behind locked windows and bolted doors after night falls. Strong measures must be taken to deal with the problem of violent crime. I firmly believe that New York State was right to establish the death penalty.”

Remember: Place the main idea sentence in the first paragraph and underline it.

2. Present specific reasons for your main idea (McPherson and Cowan 255-275). Support each reason in one of the following ways:

A. Giving examples – John Allen (135), in his book, Assault with a Deadly Weapon, describes an escaped convict who murdered two FBI agents in the District of Columbia when they attempted to capture him. Since the convict had already been serving a life sentence and the District of Columbia did not have the death penalty, he felt he had nothing to lose by committing murder. The worst that could happen was that he simply would go back to prison.

B. Citing statistics – One scholar argues that each execution in the United States saves seven people from being murdered (Ehrlich 410).

C. Paraphrasing statements from authorities – A leading criminologist, Ernest Van Den Haag (209-211), argues that the death penalty is not opposed by many moral philosophers and religious leaders. Be sure to paraphrase the statement; do not use a direct quote.

Do not copy or quote information word-for-word from your sources or copy and paste from your sources. If you do this, your grade will be substantially lowered. You must put all the information from your sources in your own words. Copying from sources is not acceptable even if you use quotation marks. You will be submitting your paper to a plagiarism detection web site. If you copy word-for-word from your sources, the web site will make this very apparent and serious points will be deducted.

3. Identify your sources. You must show the sources of your information in the body of the paper by using the MLA citation system. The basic principle of this system is that at the end of a sentence or paragraph, you insert a parentheses (also known as a parenthetical note) that contains the last name of an author. This is the person who wrote the book, article, or website that you got your information from for that paragraph. If you do not know the author, use the title of the book, article or website. The parentheses must also include the page number of the book or article. (If a website is not divided up into numbered pages, don’t worry about putting a page number into parentheses.)  You must use one or more parenthetical notes to show a source of information for every paragraph except for the first (introductory) paragraph and the last (concluding) paragraph. You may cite a source more than once but you must cite at least ten different sources in the parenthetical notes in the text of the paper.

4. In your concluding paragraph, briefly repeat the reasons for your main idea in the same order they were presented in the paper (McPherson and Cowan 255-275). If appropriate, then predict the consequences of society accepting your main idea. For example, if you were writing a paper in favor of the death penalty, you would probably predict that if New York State retains the death penalty, the murder rate will continue to decline. Finally, end the concluding paragraph with restatement of the main idea sentence.

5. There must be a Works Cited page that contains an entry for each book, article, or web site that you cited in the parenthetical notes. List the sources in alphabetical order by author (or title if the author is unknown). There is a very definite format you must use. The following website explains the format. (Note: You will have to scroll down towards the end of the website to see the correct format for on-line sources such as websites. )


Here is another website you may find helpful. It allows you to fill out a form and it then shows you how the source should look on the Works Cited Page:


Do not include any sources that were not referred to in the parenthetical notes. Here is a sample Works Cited page that contains the sources I have relied upon in developing this assignment:

Allen, John. Assault with a Deadly Weapon. Columbus: McGraw-Hill, 1978. Print.

Ehrlich, Isaac. “The Deterrent Effect of Capital Punishment.” American Economic Review 65.3 (1975): 397-417. Print.

KnightCite. The Herman Library, n.d. Web. 6 Jan. 2011. <https://herkimer.sln.suny.edu/section/default.asp?id=201120-HER-NS-SS-141-V1>.

McPherson, Elisabeth, and Gregory Cowan. Plain English Please. 5th ed. Columbus: McGraw-Hill, 1984. 255-75. Print

MLA Citation Examples. Honolulu Community College Library, n.d. Web. 6 Jan. 2011. <http://honolulu.hawaii.edu/legacylib/mlahcc.html>.

Van Den Haag, Ernest. Punishing Criminals: Concerning a Very Old and Painful Question. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1991. Print.


6. The paper must be 2500 words. Use font size number 12. Double space. The paper must be typed in a word processing program and submitted as a .doc or .docx file attachment.

7. Other factors that will affect your grade. Your grade will be based on how closely you stick to the guidelines listed above. It will also be affected by the following considerations:

  • How persuasive is the paper? The purpose of the paper is to persuade the reader that your main idea sentence is true. The purpose is not to describe an issue or give general information about it. Do not put any information in paper that does not help convince the reader that your view on the issue is correct. Do not present arguments against your main idea unless you immediately explain why these arguments are wrong. Make sure you provide facts and examples to support the opinions you state. The purpose of the paper is not to just give your opinion on the issue. The purpose is to provide enough facts, statistics and examples to show that your opinion is correct. The persuasiveness of a paper is also weakened by contradictory statements and factual errors.
  • Are there errors involving grammar, spelling, and writing style?  Points will be deducted for these mistakes.
  • How well organized is the paper? Each paragraph or section of your paper should focus on just one of the reasons for your main idea. Each reason should be addressed in just one paragraph or one section of the paper.

I will be grading your paper using a rubric. Examining the rubric should give you an even better idea of what you have to do in order to get a good grade on the paper. To see the rubric, click on the  document entitled,  “Research Paper – Due” and then click on “View Rubric.”


8. I will not accept a paper that has any of the following problems:

  • There is no Works Cited page
  • There are no parenthetical notes
  • The paper is less than 1500 words long. If the paper is more than 1500 words but less than 2500, I will accept it but I will take off points for it being too short.
  • More than 50 percent of the paper is copied word-for-word from sources. If some of the paper is copied from sources but it is less than 50 percent, I will accept the paper but I will take off serious points for the copying.
  • The paper has been run through a translation app in an attempt to fool the plagiarism detection site.

If I receive a paper with any of the above problems, I will send it back to you and require you to do it over. If you fail to do this, your grade for the paper will be zero. If the paper has been run through a translation app, you will be require to do another paper on a different topic.


To submit your paper, click on the document in this module entitled: Research Paper – Due



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