Writing a Source Analysis Paper: The Ten-Step Process
There are many things that go into writing a good source analysis paper. One might compare it to building a house. Think about it: if you do not take the time to plan for construction, the house will fall. Writing a good thought paper is similar. Here is a ten-step process to help you write a better source analysis paper. These guidelines will help you in writing any short essay.
1) Before reading the documents, write down the assigned question that you are going to address in your paper. Read this question several times to yourself. The purpose of this exercise is to get you thinking about what your answer will be, before you begin reading.
2) Read the documents. Meanwhile, jot down any evidence from the documents that you might want to use in the paper.
3) Write a thesis statement that answers the assigned question.
4) Write down several sub-themes that you would like to address in the paper. Initially, write as many as you think of. Then pick the two most interesting subthemes that you would like to discuss.
5) Write an outline, like one listed below. After completing this outline, you'll find that the paper is virtually written. All you have to do now is write the first draft.
Suggested Source Analysis Paper Format:
A. Introductory paragraph
1. Write a lead sentence that gains the reader's attention. Example: When speaking of families, it is important not to neglect the issue of sexual behavior.
2. Introduce your thesis or primary argument. Example: The American Revolutionary War was less of a social revolution than it was a fight for economic autonomy.
3. Introduce sub-arguments or sub-themes that you are going to use to support your thesis.
B. Body of the paper
1. Discuss the sub-themes that you identified in the introductory paragraph, in separate paragraphs.
2. Write down page numbers of the book (document reader or textbook) that you're going to use to support these sub-themes.
1. Restate your thesis and sub-themes.
2. Write any closing comments.
6) Write the first draft of the paper.
7) After you've completed writing the first draft, the hard part begins. Yes, it's time to proofread.
8) When proofreading, you want to correct several things, which I've listed below:
Spelling—Most word processors have a spell-checking feature, but do not rely heavily on them. Use a dictionary, to correct any words that you are not sure about.
Usage—Be sure that you are using the word that you intend to use correctly.
Examples: there/their/they're, no/know, it's/its, lead/led, or any other homonym
Punctuation—Use periods, commas, semi-colons, colons, em-dashes (two hyphens), when necessary.
Verb tense—to improve the flow of your writing, choose a tense (i.e., past, present, future) and stick with it. Most historical writing speaks of figures from the past in the past tense ("John Hancock said...").
Paragraph construction—Think of each paragraph that you write as presenting a complete idea. Thus, you want to form a topic sentence that each subsequent sentence relates to. Then you want to make sure that the last sentence of each paragraph, flows into the first sentence of the following paragraph.
Words of hesitation—Try to eliminate words that connote a sense of hesitation (e.g., maybe, might, perhaps, possibly) unless you absolutely have to use them as qualifying language.
For more thorough editing, see the Style Sheet guidelines and the Paper Writing study aid.
9) After proofreading for these things, go back, and read your paper aloud. This process will allow you to hear any inconsistency that you did not pick up earlier when reading silently. Meanwhile, ask yourself the following questions:
a. Do my thesis, sub-themes, and conclusion make sense?
b. Do I support all of the statements that I've made with evidence from the readings?
10) This last step is probably the most important. Have someone else read your paper. Often a fresh eye will catch things that you did not. I will be happy to read drafts of your paper during my office hours.
Congratulations! You're ready to turn in your paper.
This paper authored by John Grant and modified by Sally Hadden and Robert Berkhofer.
Harvard is a commonly used method of referencing, which uses the Author-Date system.
Which Harvard style?
Note: Harvard has been adapted to suit many different publication styles. The style used in this guide follows the standard prescribed by the following manual:
Snooks & Co. 2002, Style manual for authors, editors and printers, 6th edn. John Wiley & Sons, Milton, Qld.This is the official style followed in most Australian Government publications.
Which style does my Faculty or School use?
Some Schools require a different style from the one outlined here. Use the citation style required by your Faculty or School.
Why Reference your sources?
It is important to reference the sources you use for essays and reports, so that the reader can follow your arguments and check your sources. It is essential to correctly acknowledge the author when quoting or using other people’s ideas in your work.
How do I use Harvard?
In-text citations are made like this
Paraphrasing and in-text citations
The point made by an analytic philosopher (O'Connor 1969, p. 32) is that values cannot be justified in this way. However Kneller (1963b, p. 102) insists that the theorist will inevitably be involved in value claims.
Note: Page, chapter or section numbers may be included in the in-text citation if the cited work is long and the information helps the reader locate the relevant information.
When the authors name is mentioned in-text (eg. Kneller in the example above) add year and page numbers only to the in-text reference.
Entries that have the same author and year are noted by adding a, b, c etc to the year, both in-text eg. Kneller (1963b, p. 102) and in the Reference List (see entries in Reference List below).
Direct quotes and in-text citations
‘Having a solid plan as part of research design is essential’ (Hatch 2002, p. 46).
Hatch (2002, p. 46) believes ‘having a solid plan as part of research design is essential.’
Note: Always include page numbers when citing a quotation and enclose the quote in single quotation marks.
Block quotes and in-text citations
Inductive analysis is discussed:
Inductive thinking proceeds from the specific to the general. Understandings are generated by starting with specfic
elements and finding connections among them. To argue inductively is to begin with particular pieces of evidence,
then pull them together into a meaningful whole. Inductive data analysis is a search for patterns of meaningful data so
the general statements about phenomena under investigation can be made (Hatch 2002, p. 161).
Note: Place a quotation of 30 or more words in your work as a free standing block. These quotes are usually indented eg. 5 spaces and are in a smaller font eg. 1 pt smaller than the surrounding text. Do not enclose the quote in quotation marks.
Reference lists, at the end of your paper, are made like this (arrange your list alphabetically by author).
Hatch, JA 2002, Doing qualitative research in education settings. State of , .
Kneller, JP 1963a, Is logical thinking logical? Ponsonby & Partridge, Dubbo.
-----1963b, ‘Thinking and logical interaction’, Brain Logic, vol. 257, no. 4, pp. 54-62.
O'Connor, DJ 1969, An introduction to the philosophy of education, Routledge & Kegan Paul, .
[See the sample Reference list].