Research-Based WritingWriter's Web
By Myra Daleng, Richmond Department of Theatre & Dance
(printable version here)

N.B. Though the references to the International Encyclopedia of Dance apply only to dance papers, the rest is all applicable to papers in both theatre and dance classes

Here are a few things for you to include when writing your research paper.  It is important for everyone to know these things that must be included, as this will save you time and hopefully extra work later.

You will explore the topic you have chosen in order to compose a 5 page paper, in which you present ideas as well as facts you have culled and synthesized from legitimate primary and secondary sources.  Make sure your topic is not too broad.  Be sure to find a point of view and determine the purpose of your paper when researching a biography, historical event or piece of choreography.  Don't try to cover too much in a five-page paper. 

On the other hand, be sure there is enough material to support the five-source, minimum five-page requirement.  It is essential that you do preliminary reading in order to evaluate a topic for consideration.  Some of the ways this can be done is by looking at the International Encyclopedia of Dance (REF GV 1585.1586 1998), INFOTRAC or going to the dance collection in the stacks at the library.

  • Every paper must have a thesis, a single major point.  It should provide the reader with the focus of the paper and serve as a unifying aspect of the paper.  The thesis will help you see where you are heading with the paper.  A good thesis often answers the questions "How?" and/or  "Why?”  The thesis should be included in the research assignment/bibliography, and the first draft. This statement may be revised as you write the paper but is must be stated as a single sentence in the introduction of the final draft.

  • Make sure your paper is organized with a beginning, middle and end.  The beginning should tell the reader from the onset where you are going.  The middle, then, would be a review of literature, supporting the thesis.  The end is a few concluding paragraphs, summarizing the paper's main points very briefly, with a statement of conclusion.

  • The style of the paper is important.  This is a formal paper and it should not be written in the first person.  Do not use jargon, but do explain terms not familiar to a general reader.  Write the paper as if the reader is not a specialist on the subject.  Write precisely, economically, accurately, and clearly.

  • Make your title interesting.  It should suggest your thesis.  Include your title in the research assignment/bibliography, in the first draft and final draft/works cited.  Refer to the MLA style section of Citing Sources on the library web page.

  • All papers must be typed, double-spaced, and include the list of works cited.  The paper should be standard twelve font using one-inch margins on all sides.  Do not justify the right margin.  Papers must be stapled in the upper left corner and the complete pledge must be written in full, signed, and included on the title page.  Since a title page is required it is not necessary, include your title, name, date, and course on the first page of text.

  • It is your responsibility to be on time to an appointment with your Writing Consultant.  If you miss an appointment without ample notification, your grade on your research paper could be lowered by your professor.

  • Use reliable, appropriate outside sources to provide context for your own argument and/or to provide factual evidence or persuasive support.  Remember that five sources must be cited.  Only list references actually cited, with the author's name in alphabetical order.  Make sure to document all sources, direct quotations, paraphrases and any information and ideas that are not your own. For help with finding sources, contact Linda Fairtile at Boatwright Memorial Library.

A minimum of 5 sources will be cited: 

At least 1 from the International Encyclopedia of Dance
      (REF GV 1585 .I586 1998)

At least 1 journal article

At least 1 book (hard text)

At least 2 of your own choosing

Wikipedia is not an acceptable source for this assignment.

Be sure you use the MLA style.  All information must be cited that is not common knowledge or your own ideas in the bibliography, which becomes Works Cited on the final draft.

  • How do you evaluate or rate a web site? Consider the following questions as you use various web pages on the Internet. Remember the currency, quality and the authority of any information resource is crucial.

Do not believe everything you read. People can create fiction on computers as easily as they can in print or aural media.

                  Who wrote or compiled the information?

                  What is their authority to write or speak on this topic?

                  Who is providing the information or sponsoring the web site?

                  Do they have a vested interest in a particular point of view?

                  How up-to-date is the information in the resource?

                  How accurate is the information?

                  How easy is it to search the web site?  

  • Use parenthetical citation (internal citation), using the MLA guidelines.  Direct quotations, paraphrased quotations, and borrowed theories or opinions must be cited.  Do not provide citations for common knowledge.

  • There is a lot of helpful information on the Library's web page. Use the Finding Information page to enhance your search for books, journals, full text sources, etc. Use the Citing Sources link to find examples of how to cite sources using MLA style. If you have any research questions, contact the library reference desk at x8669 or Lee Stevens at x8459 or You can also find links to reference email and chat reference service on the library web page.  If you need help with writing, be sure to contact the Writing Center at x8935.

  • Check your syllabus for the due dates of the topic, research assignment/bibliography, first draft and final draft/works cited.

  • Only one person at a time may log onto the International Index to the Performing Arts.  This is for the entire campus.  Please be considerate and use this source in a timely manner.  Also, because so many of you are using the International Encyclopedia of Dance at the same time, please be considerate and when you finish using them, return them to the shelves where you found them.

  • If you cannot find certain materials, you may want to visit the V.C.U. library.  You will be able to check out books from that library with a pass that can be obtained from the reference desk at the UR library.


Research Paper Checklist

_____Title page that includes: title of paper, student's name, date, class, professor's name, pledge written in full and signed.  Title page information should not be included on first page of the body of the paper, since you have a title page.

_____ Include your last name and page number in upper right corner of each page.

_____ Use one-inch margin on all sides in the text of your paper.  Check your computer settings.

_____ Use MLA style (internal citations, no footnotes).

_____ Last page on final draft should read Works Cited.  You may use Bibliography on first/rough draft.

_____ Works Cited includes only those sources found in text of paper.

______  A minimum of five sources cited.

_____ First Draft with writing fellow comments must be stapled to Final Draft. 

The Writing Consultant's comments on your first draft must be stapled to your final draft or you will not receive credit for the final research paper. 

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