The following two sample research papers are typical of the papers that might be submitted in different kinds of courses.
Reading these papers will help you learn about organizing an argument and working with sources. The papers also demonstrate the use of MLA style to document sources and the formatting of the margins, line spacing, and other physical attributes of a printed paper. The MLA’s guidelines on formatting papers appear elsewhere on this site.
The sample papers were written by MLA staff members who are experienced college teachers. You may find that the writing and documentation seem polished. Because the sample papers serve as models, we aimed to make them free of errors in grammar and documentation. Nevertheless, we hope that the papers usefully represent good student work.
This paper, on Jacob Lawrence’s Migration series, shows you how to incorporate figures into your text, style a block quotation, and cite a variety of sources. Read about block quotations in the MLA Handbook (1.3.2–3, 1.3.7).
This paper, on Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park and the courtship novel, features examples of how to use notes in MLA style, cite a dictionary definition, and more.
Research paper assignments are nothing new. And usually, the instructor gives a general length requirement. You’ve written 10, 12, 15-page papers – these are pretty common numbers. But once you get below 10 pages, let’s say an 8-page research paper, things do change up a bit.
Shorter Research Papers are Tougher
Just why is an 8-page research paper harder than a 15-page (or longer) paper?
- Topic selection for an 8-page paper is harder. It has to be narrow and very specific. A 15-page paper can handle a more general topic
- It can be hard to find primary resources for a narrow topic of an 8-page essay. A more general topic of a larger essay will have more similar resources and be easier to find.
If you are worried about how to write an 8-page paper, don’t. You will actually write it the same way you write any research paper. It’s just the early part – topic and research – that can be a bit tough.
Getting to that Topic
It’s hard to know what topic will “fit” an 8-page essay or paper. But there are a couple of ways to find one, once you have the larger topic area. Let’s take the Great Depression as an example.
- It’s a large topic, so narrow it down into some sub-topics, such as the causes, government intervention to “fix” it, urban and rural differences, etc.
- Get online and take a look at some existing papers and essays on these narrower topics, and see if others have “covered” them in about 8 pages. If so, you probably have a “winner.”
The other way to choose a topic that will fit is to choose an event or person to write about. In that U.S. history class, for example, Prohibition would be an ideal topic for an 8-page paper.
Now the Research
It is not unusual for a shorter research paper to actually have more resources than a longer one. This is because a narrow topic is often covered as a small part of a larger work, so you will have to find a number of those larger works to use.
Let’s take the example of the Great Depression. You have narrowed your topic down to one cause – banks’ lending practices during the 1920’s. As you look for resources, you will find smaller sections in those resources on banking practices that resulted in “runs on banks” and bank failures. But you may have to access a number of resources to get enough information for your paper.
Again, you can speed up your search for resources in the following ways:
- Conduct a basic Google search with the right keywords
- Look at resources that were used by others who have written papers or journal articles on this specific topic.
A big part of figuring out how long does it take to write and 8-page paper will involve how long it takes to find the right resources.
Now, How to Write an 8-Page Research Paper
Follow the same procedure that you would with any research essay or paper you might write. You know you have to do the research; you know you have to organize that research into sub-topics. You know you have to decide in what order you are going to cover those sub-topics; and you know that you will have to come up with a thesis statement – perhaps something like, “If there had been regulations on lending practices in place during the 1920’s, it is possible that we might have avoided the worst of the Great Depression.”
There is Help Out There
If you are still struggling with how to write an 8-page research paper, any part of it, you can get professional help from writers’ services online. Be careful, though – there are thousands and thousands of them, and all are not good. You want to find one that is reputable. Read some reviews of writing services and make a selection based upon those reviews.