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Research Paper Introduction Checklist Assessment

This is a list of the basic requirements that an APA (6th edition) formatted research paper should meet prior to submission for grading.  Note: Always check with your professor regarding which formatting style is required.

1. Essay title

  • is interesting and engages the reader
  • reflects the content of the essay
  • original (your own title)
  • appears as a “running head” on each page of essay (see APA style guide)

2. Title page

  • follows APA guidelines for a title page
  • contains first and last name of writer
  • instructor name                              
  • name of course

3. Formatting

  • double spaced
  • 1”/2.5 cm margins
  • 12 point font
  • standard font (e.g., Times, Helvetica)
  • stapled or paper clipped
  • all major words in titles of books and articles are capitalized within the body of the paper
  • pages are consecutively numbered starting with the title page, in Arabic numerals, in the upper right-hand corner

4. Introduction

  • general opening sentence linked to topic
  • roadmap or preview/summary of main points/themes to be developed
  • thesis gives a direct, argumentative focus
  • thesis is not predictable and formulaic (i.e., does not have a 3-point thesis)
  • thesis does one thing: tells the reader the main argument or purpose of essay

5. Body paragraphs

  • contain topic sentences
  • show evidence of linking words and transitions
  • provide evidence and examples to support claims
  • contain one main topic/theme per paragraph
  • make connections between ideas (cohesion)
  • indented at start of each paragraph
  • contain in-text citations where needed for reference materials
  • have a concluding sentence or phrases that signal end of paragraph

6. Conclusion paragraph

  • mirrors the introduction
  • summarizes /reviews main essay points
  • provides a new insight or emerging questions that arise from the essay
  • leaves reader with interesting final thought or suggestions for further consideration

7.  Citation/attribution

  • proper quotation marks are put around any material directly copied word for word from references/outside sources
  • the author, year, and page number is included in parentheses
  • properly paraphrased content with a page number (encouraged)
  • changes to key words (i.e., using synonyms)
  • changes to sentence structure from original text
  • summarizes / synthesizes original text without misrepresenting meaning
  • uses language of attribution to indicate source and to grammatically embed reference info into own writing
  • quotations over 40 words start on a new line, are indented about ½ an inch, and do not contain quotation marks

8. Language

  • spell checked
  • appropriate academic tone and word choices
  • proofread or edited for grammatical accuracy

9. End references

  • appear right after conclusion paragraph on a separate page
  • the word References appears at the top of reference list and is centered on the page
  • follow APA citation rules
  • only the first word of titles and subtitles (and words after a colon or dash) and proper nouns are capitalized
  • listed in alphabetical order
  • double spaced
  • must be used/appear in the body of the essay as in-text citations
  • proper indenting, italicizing where applicable

10. Academic integrity

Contributed by Anne Hales. Used with permission

Introductions, Body Paragraphs, and Conclusions for an Argument Paper


This resource outlines the generally accepted structure for introductions, body paragraphs, and conclusions in an academic argument paper. Keep in mind that this resource contains guidelines and not strict rules about organization. Your structure needs to be flexible enough to meet the requirements of your purpose and audience.

Contributors: Allen Brizee
Last Edited: 2018-02-09 01:03:40

The following sections outline the generally accepted structure for an academic argument paper. Keep in mind that these are guidelines and that your structure needs to be flexible enough to meet the requirements of your purpose and audience.

You may also use the following Purdue OWL resources to help you with your argument paper:


The introduction is the broad beginning of the paper that answers three important questions:

  1. What is this?
  2. Why am I reading it?
  3. What do you want me to do?

You should answer these questions by doing the following:

  1. Set the context –provide general information about the main idea, explaining the situation so the reader can make sense of the topic and the claims you make and support
  2. State why the main idea is important –tell the reader why he or she should care and keep reading. Your goal is to create a compelling, clear, and convincing essay people will want to read and act upon
  3. State your thesis/claim –compose a sentence or two stating the position you will support with logos (sound reasoning: induction, deduction), pathos (balanced emotional appeal), and ethos (author credibility).

For exploratory essays, your primary research question would replace your thesis statement so that the audience understands why you began your inquiry. An overview of the types of sources you explored might follow your research question.

If your argument paper is long, you may want to forecast how you will support your thesis by outlining the structure of your paper, the sources you will consider, and the opposition to your position. You can forecast your paper in many different ways depending on the type of paper you are writing. Your forecast could read something like this:

First, I will define key terms for my argument, and then I will provide some background of the situation. Next, I will outline the important positions of the argument and explain why I support one of these positions. Lastly, I will consider opposing positions and discuss why these positions are outdated. I will conclude with some ideas for taking action and possible directions for future research.

When writing a research paper, you may need to use a more formal, less personal tone. Your forecast might read like this:

This paper begins by providing key terms for the argument before providing background of the situation. Next, important positions are outlined and supported. To provide a more thorough explanation of these important positions, opposing positions are discussed. The paper concludes with some ideas for taking action and possible directions for future research.

Ask your instructor about what tone you should use when providing a forecast for your paper.

These are very general examples, but by adding some details on your specific topic, a forecast will effectively outline the structure of your paper so your readers can more easily follow your ideas.

Thesis checklist

Your thesis is more than a general statement about your main idea. It needs to establish a clear position you will support with balanced proofs (logos, pathos, ethos). Use the checklist below to help you create a thesis.

This section is adapted from Writing with a Thesis: A Rhetoric Reader by David Skwire and Sarah Skwire:

Make sure you avoid the following when creating your thesis:

  • A thesis is not a title: Homes and schools (title) vs. Parents ought to participate more in the education of their children (good thesis).
  • A thesis is not an announcement of the subject: My subject is the incompetence of the Supreme Court vs. The Supreme Court made a mistake when it ruled in favor of George W. Bush in the 2000 election.
  • A thesis is not a statement of absolute fact: Jane Austen is the author of Pride and Prejudice.
  • A thesis is not the whole essay: A thesis is your main idea/claim/refutation/problem-solution expressed in a single sentence or a combination of sentences.
  • Please note that according to the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, Seventh Edition, "A thesis statement is a single sentence that formulates both your topic and your point of view" (Gibaldi 42). However, if your paper is more complex and requires a thesis statement, your thesis may require a combination of sentences.

Make sure you follow these guidelines when creating your thesis:

  • A good thesis is unified:
    • NOT: Detective stories are not a high form of literature, but people have always been fascinated by them, and many fine writers have experimented with them

(floppy). vs.

    • BETTER: Detective stories appeal to the basic human desire for thrills (concise).

  • A good thesis is specific:
    • NOT: James Joyce’s Ulysses is very good. vs.

    • BETTER: James Joyce’s Ulysses helped create a new way for writers to deal with the unconscious.

  • Try to be as specific as possible (without providing too much detail) when creating your thesis:
    • NOT: James Joyce’s Ulysses helped create a new way for writers to deal with the unconscious. vs.

    • BETTER: James Joyce’s Ulysses helped create a new way for writers to deal with the unconscious by utilizing the findings of Freudian psychology and introducing the techniques of literary stream-of-consciousness.

Quick Checklist:

_____ The thesis/claim follows the guidelines outlined above

_____ The thesis/claim matches the requirements and goals of the assignment

_____ The thesis/claim is clear and easily recognizable

_____ The thesis/claim seems supportable by good reasoning/data, emotional appeal

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