Timeline and Information for Documented Essay (Unit #3)

Documented Essay



The purpose of this essay is simpler than it sounds in the assignment.  Create an arguable central claim about the topic you have chosen (note: This is not a biography or informational essay.) You will then use scholarly sources to prove your claim.


This Documented Essay should be 6-8 pages in length. This essay is still an analytic argument and is no different from the other essays you have written this semester, except it is longer with more sources. An essay that is less than six pages is one that I will consider to be undeveloped, and one that is significantly over 8 pages is one that is not focused.  I will not read your essay if it does not conform to MLA format in terms of font size, margins, headings, citations, and a Works Cited page. (This Works Cited page is in addition to the 6-8 pages that are required for content.)



Acceptable Topics (from the assignment)

Note:  Each topic allows you to choose the focus.  It will serve you well to choose something that truly interests you; if you enjoy researching your topic, you will enjoy writing your paper. Choose one of the following:


  • Topic #1:Choose an invention or discovery that changed the world and write about it. You should write about how it changed the world and also how it changed the lives of individuals.  If an invention was important enough to have changed the world, then it should be assumed that nothing more than a short description is necessary here.  What is important is that you figure out the change that your invention caused in society and in history.
  • Topic #2: Choose a controversial, hot button topic that currently has the country or the world in its grip, examine it and prove to your reader what, through your research, you have found to be the solution to the problem your issue presents. You must do research into your topic and how it has been voted on by the government and/or the citizens of the US in the past. Examples of hot button topics would be the economic crisis, affordable education, affordable healthcare and the war in Iraq, among others. Identify a problem and find a solution through your research.


 Documented Essay


Scholarly Sources


“Scholarly or peer-reviewed journal articles are written by scholars or professionals who are experts in their fields” (cornell.edu).


A minimum of five sources must be used to support your essay.  They are as follows:


  1. At least one book – See list of written texts for additional research on pages 135-36 of our textbook, or you may find and use another text.
  2. At least two scholarly (see above)journal articles from a database accessible via Sprague Library (e.g., Infotrac, EBSCO, JSTOR, MLA—some of these databases will provide you with the full-text of the articles online, others will provide you with just abstracts and you’ll have to track down the full article in hardcopy).
  3. One (1) article from a newspaper or magazine (such as The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Time, Newsweek, etc.)


The best way to make sure you are using scholarly articles is to use the University’s article databases. To do so:


  1. Go to montclair.edu
  2. Click on “Library.”
  3. Type your keywords into the search box and check off “full text” and “peer reviewed.”

Note: Please make sure to vary your keyword searches and expect to spend time doing research.  Research takes time.  The sources you need will not just present themselves to you immediately after you type in the topic you are writing about. Vary your keywords, look in different databases (which you can find by clicking on “articles and databases” on the main library page) and do your due diligence.


You can learn more about citing sources and research on the actual essay assignment on Canvas.


Timeline  and Due Dates


  • Friday, 11/14/14:Proposal due (1-2 pages).
  • Friday, 11/14/14: Library Research Day (Class meets in Room 203 of Sprague).
  • Tuesday, 11/18/14:Annotated Bibliography Due (At least three sources)
  • Friday, 11/21/14:First Draft Due (4 pages/At least three sources)
  • Tuesday, 12/1/14: Middle Draft (5 pages/At least four sources)
  • Friday, 12/4/14: Final Draft Due by the start of class via Canvas. (6-8 pages/ All required sources)





Important Points to Consider


  • You MUST use correct MLA format for this essay. It is a documented essay and MLA format will be taken seriously. It is your responsibility to make sure you are citing your sources correctly both in the text (parenthetical citations) and on your Works Cited page.  Please refresh your knowledge of MLA format, especially citing scholarly articles.  You can look up this information online at the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL): https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01/
  • The Works Cited page should be the very last page of your essay, not a separate attachment.
  • I have posted an example of a successful documented essay about poetry under Module #3. You can also find it under “Files” à “Documented Essay.”
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