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What is a literary research paper and how to write it?

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Pro-Paper’s book collection for literature paper writing

Writing research papers on literature is a bit more challenging than regular essays as you have to conduct an extensive research and present your analysis of the sources in a professional manner. If you have a hard time approaching this task, are not sure which topic to choose, or just need a few tips to perfect your work, this article is exactly what you need.

How to write a literary research paper?

There are a few steps you need to take before and while writing a literature research paper:

  • Find a literary research paper topic to your liking.
  • Search for the credible sources.
  • Create an outline for the paper.
  • Write in drafts and submit them for the professor’s review if possible.
  • Proofread the paper before the submission.

Choosing a perfect literary research paper topic

Check out these top 10 literature research paper topics:

  • Black humor in literature
  • Feminist literature
  • Psychology and literature
  • Women in literature
  • Symbolism in literature
  • The most difficult literary period
  • Gender roles in Victorian novels
  • The American dream in the texts of the 20th century
  • The issue of child labor in Dickenson’s novel
  • The concept of Catharsis in the world literature

Literary research paper outline

  • Introduction.
    Your first task here is to create a perfect hook phrase. It’s a piece of information, which will draw the attention of the reader to your text. It can be an interesting fact, statistics, quote, or even a rhetorical question. Next, you need to formulate a strong thesis statement so that everyone who reads your paper will be clearly aware of its objective. The thesis should include the main points you are going to discuss or a hypothesis that you will prove or disprove in the course of writing.
  • Background.
    Here, you literally have to provide basic information on the topic. It is also important to explain the historical context of the issue under consideration. In order to be precise, it’s crucial that you find credible sources to cite in this section of your text.
  • Analysis.
    This is a practical part of your text, where you need to make the analysis of the info you have retrieved from the chosen sources. Remember that all the arguments you make have to be reinforced by facts, along with examples such as quotes.
  • Conclusion.
    This is the final section of your paper, where you have to provide a summary of the main points of your paper. But most importantly, you need to restate your thesis statement. Never copy this sentence from the intro part, as it looks quite unprofessional. At the very end, you may write an idea or a question that calls your audience for further reflection.

There may be additional or alternative sections such as methodology, stating how you have chosen the right sources for the task, and a literature review, presenting your findings from the said sources. Be sure to check the rubric for the assignment to know what to include in your paper.

Tips for writing a literary research paper

  • Find an original topic.
    Your teacher reads hundreds of papers each semester and a cliché topic is not something they will be looking forward to reading a text on. An interesting topic will not only give you a chance to stand out, but will also be easier to do a research on, as you will enjoy the process more.
  • Formulate a strong thesis.
    This sentence is the essence of your introduction and the paper in general. So make sure that it is clear, concise, and covering the main ideas you plan to discuss further.
  • Conduct extensive research. Research paper is a more serious type of academic assignment than a regular essay. In this case, you will need a lot of data to support your ideas. Therefore, plan ahead and make sure you have enough time to find credible and relevant sources for your work.
  • Proofread your paper. Even if you conduct brilliant research, you will not get an excellent mark if there are mistakes and typos all over the text. That’s why you need to proofread your paper a couple of times and, if possible, give it to a friend or a family member to look over and comment on.

How to find credible sources for a literary research paper?

  • Use the online library of your academic institution.
  • Google information using only Google Scholar.
  • Check reviews for the sources you believe are relevant to your topic.
  • Evaluate the sources that authors have cited in their works.
  • Find more information on the author, such as their credentials and academic background.
  • Preferably, choose sources that are no older than 5 years, 10 if you are short on options.

Additionally, you may ask your professor or experts in the university writing center for recommendations if you feel completely stuck.

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