Paper Sketch / Storyboard

Assignment Steps

This assignment can be divided into five smaller steps. Read the entire assignment before you begin.

Step One: Two Sentences: Question and Thesis

To prepare for this step, complete The Research Room tutorials on Developing a Research Question and Developing a Research Thesis.

  • Write a one-sentence question that summarizes the problem your paper addresses.
  • Based on your research question and your reading of the sources you have gathered so far: Write a one-sentence working thesis statement that summarizes your argument in response to the question.

Step Two: Introductory Paragraph

Place your thesis in context by writing a short introductory paragraph to your research paper. This paragraph is where you will explain briefly your topic and the ideas you’re responding to; it is also where you will state your thesis.

  • This paragraph is where you will “enter the conversation” of an academic debate. You may want to draw on the templates from They Say / I Say in crafting your introduction. (For those templates, see our readings and class handouts.)

Step Three: Planning Your Paper

Prepare a brief plan for your paper. You can do this by writing a sentence to describe each main point that you will make in support of your thesis. Refer to the sources you will use as evidence.

  • If you completed the blog on potential research topics, you have already started to do this. Now you will want to be more specific, and include any sources you have found or claims you have developed in your early research.

Step Four: Draft a Title

Develop a working title for your paper. (Don’t worry, you can change this at any time until you submit your final draft!)

  • A good title describes your paper topic and themes; it can include information about the specific focus of your paper (geographic, time period, academic area), use key phrases, or simply state the question your paper will address.
  • One common format for academic paper titles is a two-part title with a colon. The first part may present a question or a signal phrase, while the second part uses key words from the thesis
  • For a few examples related to our course theme, see this document on Sample Research Essay Titles; for more information and additional examples, visit Composing an Effective Title

Step Five: Reflection

The final part of your assignment should respond to the following questions:

  1. Do you think that you were able to develop an interesting and clear thesis that is well supported by the sources you have found to date? If not, what parts of your thesis need more supporting evidence? How will you find this evidence?
  2. What is your next step in the process of researching and writing your paper?

Assignment Format

Two options: Paper Sketch OR Paper Storyboard

Paper Sketch

  • Format your assignment as if it were a very rough draft of your paper.
  • Place your working title at the top (centered) (Step 4)
  • Your introductory paragraph comes next. Highlight your thesis statement. (Step 1 and 2)
  • Add your brief plan for your research paper next. (Step 3)
  • List any references you plan to use (in MLA format)
  • Provide your responses to the reflection questions (Step Five)

Paper Storyboard

  • Your storyboard will contain the same elements as the Paper Sketch
  • Choose an appropriate style to create your board. (Useful templates include a grid style, a spider map for supporting claims and evidence, or a T-chart for comparisons.)
    • You may draw your own board, or create one out of index cards and paper
    • Or use software to create one: Storyboard That!
  • Place your working title in a prominent place (e.g. at the top of the page)

Your assignment should include your name, our course number (ENG 103.0905) and the professor’s name, and the date submitted. Use 1” margins, double-spacing, and an 11 or 12 point font. I encourage you to print on both sides.

Deadline: Monday, October 16, in class

How to Submit:

  1. Create a file in your Writing Portfolio in Google Drive, and make sure it’s saved to your folder by the due date (If you drew a storyboard, you can scan it in the library, or take a photo to upload it to Drive), AND
  2. Post your paper sketch or storyboard to our course blog (using the category “Blog” and the tag “Paper Sketch.”) You must submit the assignment in each of these forms.

Don’t forget: Always make sure your in-class writing and assignments are saved in your Writing Portfolio (your individual Google Drive folder).


I am looking for the following as I read and respond to your assignment:

  • A clear research question and a working thesis
  • An appropriate introductory paragraph that provides readers with an understanding of what your paper will discuss and argue
  • Evidence of preliminary research and critical thinking about your sources
    • In other words, it is not enough to quote or paraphrase what others have said – what are you saying in relation to what they say?
  • Thoughtful reflections on the process so far and your next steps

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