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ENGL 100 - De La Cruz Sanchez - Fall 2023: Research Essay

For students in English 100 with Yvonne De La Cruz Sanchez


WA5: Text-to-World (Research Essay)



During our third unit, we will be discussing ideas regarding environmental wellbeing, including aspects of how taking care of our individual selves extends to caring for our communities and the world we live. Our discussions will address environmental issues, personal & community responsibility, and adaptation/perseverance.

The main source for Unit 3: Environmental Wellbeing is Parable of the Sower: A Graphic Novel Adaptation. Through this story, we will begin asking interesting questions regarding our personal responsibility of caring for ourselves and others, as well as our individual and collective responsibility to care for our communities and environment. These questions will drive the research for this final formal essay of the course.



For this assignment, please write a 2,000-word (5-6 pages) argument-based research essay that 1) provides an introduction to a problem, 2) summarizes that problem, 3) makes a judgment on that problem, and 4) presents a call to action.

The argument you present should focus an idea found in the graphic novel regarding any of the following

  • Issues that impact our environment, or
  • personal responsibility for caring for the environment, or
  • the importance of community over the individual with environmental issues, or
  • adaptation and perseverance in the face of change, or
  • any other idea you see as important from the graphic novel.

Just be sure that the topic you choose is something that is problem-based and might be solvable.

Step One: Familiarize Yourself With Your Subject

Step 1: Familiarize Yourself with Your Subject with Background Reading

Begin your project by doing some background reading on your topic. Preliminary reading helps you do all the following: 

  • achieve a basic understanding of your problem
  • begin to identify interesting specific questions that will form the backbone of your research; and
  • start to acquire vital search terms you need in order to explore your subject more fully. 

Resources from MJC Databases - Background Reading

Google Web Search

Dig Deeper with Academic Databases

Reports, Magazines, News, Academic Journals

Step Two: Find, Read, and Reflect on Your Sources

Step 2: Find Sources on the Topics You Identified in Step 1

  • Do a comprehensive search utilizing the sources above; leave no stone unturned
  • Print/save/email the sources you find as you go to avoid backtracking
  • Read your sources several times, highlighting relevant information and making notes as you go.
  • If you have trouble finding the appropriate type or number of sources: MEET WITH STELLA or ANY RESEARCH LIBRARIAN

Step Three: Start Writing a Draft

Step 3: Start Writing a Draft

  • Make an appointment with Writing Center staff at least once. They will help you get started, proceed, and/or finish. This is a free service that you should always utilize to maximize your success.
  • Utilize the MJC Library & Learning Center's FORMAT & CITE page to aid with MLA. A research librarian can provide face-to-face or Zoom assistance with formatting and citing as well. 

Meet your librarian

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Stella Beratlis
Need help now? We have Research Drop-In Hours Monday - Thursday during Summer 2024: Go to the Ask a Librarian page to get immediate help.

In the Summer, Research Help is available in-person (at East Campus L & LC only) and online from 10 am - 3 pm, Monday though Thursday.

MJC (thus the L & LCs as well) is closed Fri-Sun. during summer semester.
Website Skype Contact: beratliss

Cite Your Sources with NoodleTools Citation Builder: Easy!

Go to NoodleTools

Research Questions

You already have a pair of research questions to consider, as noted from the prompt: 

Would it benefit or harm someone to become more altruistic or egoistic? (individual focus) 

In what ways would being more altruistic or egoistic benefit society or harm it? (society focus)

Consider answering one or both of these questions as a single statement that is arguable. 

Popular, Substantive, Scholarly Information

Evaluating Sources

MLA Citation Style

Citation Examples

Citation Examples and Template:

 MLA Core ElementsEach citation in your list of works cited is composed of elements common to most works -- author, title, publication date, etc. These are called the MLA core elements. The core elements are assembled in a specific order as shown to the left.

Use the links below to see examples of source citations and practice using one of the templates.

If you don't find what you need below, check out the MLA's, Ask the MLA.


Citation Examples by Format: