Brannon--Junior Project

Junior Research Project Overview
(430 points Yay!)
You will select an American person as the topic of your paper. (You are somewhat
arbitrarily limited to Americans since this is an American literature class.) Your task
is to convince me that your American person should be included in the next round
of winners of the MOST INFLUENTIAL AMERCAN award in the area of ______________.
You get to fill in that blank. The area might be cooking, or sports, or literature, or
whatever. The “area” should be a significant area, and related to American culture.
(Please do not suggest writing a paper about the most influential spit-ball shooter
from 2000-2012. Although I have to admit, that might be interesting, I have a hard
time seeing how you will prove your case with solid evidence from research. When
in doubt, ask me.)

Topic Minimum Requirements:
You are looking for an American who meets the following TWO requirements:
 He/she has made a significant impact on American society in some way and
deserves an award, AND
 Has a biography or autobiography written about him/her. The person could
be classic, such as Mark Twain, or contemporary, such as Ellen Degeneres or
Micheal Jordan.

What Will You Do?
1. You will do preliminary research in order to select your American.
2. You will write a research paper topic proposal to me, which will suggest that
your person meets the requirements and is appropriate as far as length,
difficulty, and accessibility of research data. (The auto/biography is long
enough, the author is not meant for sixth graders, and the author is not too
obscure. See below.) You may not move on until Mrs. Brannon has accepted
your proposal.
3. The topics also must be cleared by your parent or guardian with a signature
to ensure that they agree the topic is appropriate for you.
4. You will read the complete auto/biography on the person chosen. It must be
200 pages as a minimum. (Minimum=you may not be shooting for A.) We
have a wide selection of biographies in our library, but if you find you want to
write about someone who is popular, or not in our collection, you will need to
get your own copy of the book on your own by the due date.
5. You will research the American’s life, written works, and/or impact on society.
Five hours of in class research time will be provided. The rest of the research
will be done outside of class.
6. You will write a 5-7 page research paper on your American person. See below
for the specific details about paper requirements.

7. You will properly use MLA format to cite a minimum of 5 sources (at least 2
will be books) for your paper in a works cited page.

What are the Due Dates?

Written proposal to Mrs. Brannon
_______________ 30 pts
Reading of auto/biography finished by
In class library time will occur
________________ 100 pts
Research should be completed by
Rough draft of works cited page due
________________ 50 pts
Rough Draft due on
_____________________50 pts
Final draft of paper (You will turn in rough
draft of paper with rough works cited and
all research notes or you automatically lose 50 pts.)
________________ 200

Step One: Choosing a Topic--Proposal (30 pts)

Topic Requirements reminder:
 Significant impact on American society deserving of an
 Has an autobiography or biography written about
1. Start cruising the internet or the library.

a. “Easy” Topics…. Some Americans, such as Mark Twain, are easy to
research. We KNOW he’s an author who impacted American society
greatly. One Google search shows that he has dozens of biographies
written about him. One Google search shows that he has thousands of
articles written about him. So, the only tough part is choosing the
biography you want to read.
 Make sure it’s at least 200 pages (Remember, minimum takes
you out of the A grade category most likely.)
 Make sure it seems reliable (Remember, I KNOW Twain’s life, so
if you get a goofball biographer, you are not happy when I catch
 Check for recent reviews of this book. Reviews will be required.
 Make sure you can bring up some kind of new info, or at least a
new twist.

More “Obscure” Topics….. Other Americans may be more
interesting to you and may make this project more fun! That’s a good
thing! Let’s say you love Garth Brooks. Did he make a cultural
difference in American Society? How and in what way? Can you argue
that he deserves an award for being influential in our society?
 Make sure the biography is at least 200 pages same as above
 Reliable? People who have written their autobiography…THOSE
are the gems. If they didn’t, then choose a biography where
YOUR person worked WITH the author of the biography. This will
be called an authorized biography. If you can, choose a
biography that is authorized by the author; that’s the one to
pick. Unauthorized biography is your last choice but still can be
 Now look for reviews of the Auto/Biography. Google the book
and check if you can find people who said SPECIFIC things about
the story and its accuracy to the person’s life.
 Once you have selected an appropriate topic, it’s time to fill out
the proposal.


Research Topic Author Proposal
Remember, your purpose is to persuade Mrs. Brannon to accept your topic. Why is
this a good idea?

1. Who is the American? When did he/she live.
2. Why is the person important to American society? Why are you choosing
this person? If you could guess, what might the general thesis of your
paper be? (Your overall reason for why this person deserves an award for
being an influential American in what area.)

3. How many different kind of awards has this person won? Or, in how many
ways has this person influenced American society?
4. How many biographies (or autobiographies) are available to read on this
author? (List titles and authors.)

5. Which of these biographies did you choose to read and why? How many
pages is it?
6. Provide at least two reviews of the biography. Print these and attach them
to this sheet.
7. List the sources where you got the above information using MLA format.
You may do this on the back of this page or on another piece of attached
paper. This can be a simple list for now. We will put it in a formal Works
Cited page later. It too can be printed and attached to this page.
Once Mrs. Brannon has approved your topic,
you may go on to Step Two.

Parent Signature: I agree that
this person/book is
appropriate for my student.

Step Two: Reading your Biography


As a general guideline, your reading should be completed by
Up until this date, we will reserve part of every Friday for in-class SSR. You
will lose points if you do not have your copy of the biography with you. (It’s
perfectly OK to have your Kindle or other electronic reader in lieu of the
actual book, but I will be checking to make sure you are actually reading and
not playing minecraft or other fun stuff.) These points will be separate on ABI
listed as simple SSR time, so SSR counts for your grade. If you finish your
biography early, you are still expected to have something to read on these
days or you lose points.

Step Three: Start your Research
In order to do your research, you will need to know the requirements for the
Research Paper Requirements

The paper will focus on your person, his/her achievements, and
his/her impact on American Society. It will persuade the reader
that the person is worthy of an award.

It should be 5-7 pages in length, not less, not more. The paper
should have a clear sense of organization with an introduction
and a conclusion.

The paper should give a complete discussion of the American’s
achievements. Much of this information will come from the
biography you read, but having other sources is a requirement.
The paper should comment on your opinion of the accuracy of the
biography you read, so some other research is necessary.

The paper should focus on the person’s contribution to
American society and should have a clear thesis. Be sure to
discuss thoroughly the impact he/she had and why he/she should
be given an award for being MOST INFLUENTIAL AMERICAN in a
particular area. Some ideas to consider might be:

o Who was influenced and in what way?
o Did the person desire this influence?
o Was the person popular during his/her lifetime?
o What
your author
Now it’s time to organize and put it all together. Here’s an example of where
you might
by now.
written about your author since using those is
Paper required.
Topic: Oprah
They should
connect with your thesis and be used to

support your paper.
Try to find non-fiction comments by your author (primary
sources). Using these will lend authenticity to your paper.
As you are researching, be sure to note the sources of your

My working thesis: Oprah Winfrey deserves an award for MOST
INFLUENTIAL American in the area of Media/Journalism. (She has been a
marvelous helper to mankind . She has helped local people as well as people
globally and lots of people are unaware. I want to focus somewhat on her
contributions to the black community word wide.)
Sources I have researched:
1. Biography I read: Up Close: Oprah WinfreyArticle found online: “Oprah’s
Gifts to Young Black Women in Journalism.”
2. Article found online: “Oprah Winfrey Challenges Viewers to Volunteer
with Habitat.”
3. Article found online: “The Real Oprah: The Truth about Stedman.”
(Contradicts Up Close)
4. Article in book in library: “Oprah Winfrey.” (from Dictionary of Literary
5. Article found online: “Oprah in Africa.”
6. Film: Oprah Winfrey: Biography. (More info on her life here than in
How will you bring all this information together? Here is an idea. It is not required
to organize exactly this way, but it is one idea. Draw a picture:
Introduction: Name topic, get interest, state
Orient your reader to your person here.
Biographical discussion of Oprah. Include birth, education, writings,
achievements, keeping thesis in mind.
How many paragraphs will this section be, and how will you organize it?

Oprah’s Impact on American Society-KEEPING THESIS (of award win) IN MIND.
Why is she great?
Now it’s time to focus on thesis. If you add all this stuff up, why does she
deserve the award?
How many paragraphs will this section be, and how will you organize it?
Conclusion: Restate thesis and make an
interesting comment to leave the readers
happy and thinking.
Remember you need

As you write, it is
VITAL that you keep
track of where you
got your
information! Figure

Step Five: Writing the Works Cited/Citing Sources
A note on plagiarism….
To avoid plagiarism, you must give credit whenever you use

another person’s idea, opinion, or theory;
any facts, statistics, graphs, drawings—any pieces of
information—that are not common knowledge;

quotations of another person’s actual spoken or written
words; or

A note on the
consequences of plagiarism….
 paraphrase of another person’s spoken or written
If you are found guilty of intentional plagiarism, you will be referred to the office.
The minimum punishment is a three day suspension. You will fail the project and
get a zero.
If you are found guilty of accidental plagiarism, you will receive a zero and be
asked to re-write the paper until it is completely your own. You will receiver

Some Help with Citing your Research….MLA 2009 (the latest
MLA most commonly used by California State Colleges)
Basic Style for Citations of Electronic Sources (Including
Online Databases)
Here are some common features you should try and find before citing electronic
sources in MLA style. Not every Web page will provide all of the following
information. However, collect as much of the following information as possible both
for your citations and for your research notes:

Author and/or editor names (if available)
Article name in quotation marks (if

Title of the Website, project, or book in
italics. (Remember that some Print
publications have Web publications with
slightly different names. They may, for
example, include the additional
information or otherwise modified
information, like domain names [e.g.
.com or .net].)

Publisher information, including the
publisher name and publishing date.

Take note of any page numbers (if

Medium of publication. (Print, Web)

Date you accessed the material.

Abbreviations Commonly Used with Electronic Sources
If publishing information is unavailable for entries that require publication
information such as publisher (or sponsor) names and publishing dates, MLA
requires the use of special abbreviations to indicate that this information is not
Use n.p. to indicate that neither a publisher nor a sponsor name has been provided.
Use n.d. when the Web page does not provide a publication date.
When an entry requires that you provide a page but no pages are provided in the
source (as in the case of an online-only scholarly journal or a work that appears in
an online-only anthology), use the abbreviation n. pag

Sample Entry for Online Sources:
Smith, John. “Mark Twain.” The Online Twain Website. The Twain Historical Society. 2012.
n.pag. Web. 2 January 2013.

Basic Style for Citations of Books
Lastname, Firstname. Title of Book. City of Publication: Publisher, Year of Publication. Medium of

Sample Entry for Book Sources
Walker, Tom. A Wonderful Story. Boston: Metropolitan Press, 2012. Print.

**To find correct citation information for other types of
sources, go to this site:
Purdue Online Writing Lab