Notes for Research Papers

MLA Model Essay

Prepared by Mr. Consorte

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Notes to Students Doing a Research Paper:


1.      This paper serves as a model research paper using the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 6thEdition written by Joseph Gibaldi in 2003.  MLA (Modern Language Association) standards are widely accepted by high schools and colleges nationwide as the proper way to organize and document sources used in a research paper done in the Humanities (English, History, etc…) discipline.  Students should be aware of the fact that there are other standards widely accepted in other academic disciplines.  For example, APA (American Psychological Association) standards are used widely in the social sciences (Psychology, Sociology, etc…).  The “hard” sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, etc…) often use various other standards.  In the end, students should use the standards requested by their teacher.


2.      According to MLA standards, when doing a research paper, you do not need a title page.  12-point font size must be used at all times.  (See sample page 1.)


3.      Research papers should be entirely double-spaced.  This includes headings, block quotes and reference pages.  (See sample.)


4.      The MLA defines plagiarism as “the false assumption of authorship: the wrongful act of taking the product of another person’s mind, and presenting it as one’s own” (Gibaldi 66).  The MLA continues, “The purpose of a research paper is to synthesize previous research and scholarship with your ideas on the subject.  Therefore, you should feel free to use other persons’ words, facts, and thoughts in your research paper, but the material you borrow must not be presented as if it were your own creation” (Gibaldi 69).  In sum, to avoid committing plagiarism, students must properly cite all their research sources.


5.      Each page should have one-inch margins along each side, at the top, and on the bottom.  Page numbers should be on every page and use a half-inch margin.  (See sample.)


6.      Footnotes and endnotes have been replaced by in-text parenthetical documentation.  Citing your source inside parentheses immediately after a direct quote or end of a sentence is much easier.  MLA requires only the author’s name and the page number inside the parentheses.  If the author is already mentioned in the sentence, then simply cite the page number inside the parentheses.  (See sample.)


7.      When you want to list more sources than those that you cited in your research paper, simply entitle the reference page “Works Consulted” instead of “Works Cited”.


8.      a.  When citing an internet source in your “Works Cited” or “Works Consulted” page, list as much of the following information as possible:      

1.   Author’s name

2.      Title of the document

3.      Information about print publication

4.      Information about electronic publication

5.      Access information



Ross, Don.  “Game Theory.” 11 Sept. 2001.  Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Ed. Edward N. Zalta.  Fall 2002 ed. Center for the Study of Lang. And Information, Stanford U. 1 Oct. 2002


b.      Often, author and title are not available when researching a certain database.  In this case, list:

1.      Title of the site (underlined)

2.      Name of the editor of the site (if given)

3.      Electronic publication information, including version number (if relevant and if not part of the title), date of electronic publication or of the latest update, and name of any sponsoring institution or organization.

4.      Date of access and URL (uniform resource locators)



Encyclopaedia Britannica Online.  2002. Encyclopedia Britannica. 15 May 2002


c.       When citing an internet source “in-text”, list as little information as possible so that the reader can trace your reference to the “Works Cited” page.  You may list the author if it is provided or you may list the title of the article.



John Adams loved his wife Abigail.  Once he consoled her in a letter and wrote “We shall yet be happy” (“John Adams”).


9.  Obviously, this is not a complete set of instructions.  For a complete set of instructions, consult the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers.  If you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask for help.  Ask the librarians, your teachers, or come and see me.  Good luck!  Happy researching!  Remember: When in doubt, cite it!