If I were to give you one and only one “firm and definite” rule about research essay writing, it would be that you must have a section following the conclusion of your essay that explains to the reader where the evidence you cite comes from. This information is especially important in academic essays since academic readers are keenly interested in the evidence that supports your point.
If you’re following the Modern Language Association rules for citing evidence, this last section is called “Works Cited.” If you’re following the American Psychological Association rules, it’s called “References.” In either case, this is the place where you list the full citation of all the evidence you quote or paraphrase in your research essay. Note that for both MLA and APA style, research you read but didn’t actually use in your research essay is not included. Your teacher might want you to provide a “bibliography” with your research essay that does include this information, but this is not the same thing.
Hyperlink: For guidelines for properly citing your evidence and compiling “Works Cited” or “Reference” pages, see Chapter 12: Citing Your Research Using MLA or APA Style.”
Frankly, one of the most difficult aspects of this part of the research essay is the formatting—alphabetizing, getting the spacing right, underlining titles or putting them in quotes, periods here, commas there, and so forth. Again, see the appendix for information on how to do this. But if you have been keeping and adding to an annotated bibliography as you have progressed through the process of research (as discussed in chapter six), this part of the essay can actually be merely a matter of checking your sources and “copying” the citation information from the word processing file where you have saved your annotated bibliography and “pasting” it into the word processing file where you are saving your research essay.
Hyperlink: See the assignment for constructing an annotated bibliography in Chapter 6: The Annotated Bibliography Exercise.”