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ENG 1301 Library Tools for ESL Learners: Planning Your Paper

If English is your second language, the resources listed on this guide will point you to the sources that will help you improve your English while doing research for papers, assignments, and other college-level classes.

What You Need to Know (from your Professor or the Syllabus)

Before you begin your paper make sure you know the answer to the following questions. The answers may be in your syllabus or you may need to ask your professor:

  1. How many pages does my paper have to be?
  2. Is this an opinion paper or a research paper?
  3. If it is a research paper, what style do you want the notes and bibliography in (MLA, APA, Turabian, Chicago, or something else)?
  4. Is it okay if I have a first draft reviewed by the tutors at the Writing Center?

You can also ask your professor if you can meet with her/him to discuss the topic you want to write about and get some ideas from that conversation.

Tips to Plan Your Paper

Here are some tips that will help you plan to research and write your paper efficiently.

  1. Choose a topic that is interesting to you. This will make it easier to read and write about. 
  2. Research papers are about answering questions you have about your topic.
  3. Opinion papers are usually about persuading someone else about the value of your idea. Opinion papers may also be called "argument" papers or "Rogerian" papers.
  4. For research papers of 12 pages or less, think of at least 3 - 4 questions you want to know the answer to about your  topic and write them out. It is easier to find information about a question.
  5. When you start looking for books and articles to use in writing your paper, you can choose sources that help you answer the questions you've written down in Step 4. 
  6. You will read more information than you will include in your paper.
  7. If you do not know much about the topic you have chosen, you will have to do some preliminary reading to learn the terms and basic ideas of the topic. A subject encyclopedia can help. Ask at the Jones Information Desk for help finding one for your topic.

University Libraries

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Waco, TX 76798-7148

(254) 710-6702