The Effects of Horse Racing in Our History

  • Research Paper Specifications
  • Your main assignment that accounts for 55% of your grade (the short essay due the second week of the quarter is also included in this percentage) is a research paper of 3000-3600 words. The word count for your paper applies to body text only (not your Works Cited pages). You must have a minimum of 3000 words in your research paper, which is about 10-12 pages. Yes, it is okay to go over the 3600-word limit, but you will lose points if you go under the 3000-word minimum.
  • Your research paper topic should relate to our course theme of companion species; however, you do not have to write about dogs. I’ve approved topics that focus on many different animal-related issues. Check with me if you have an idea that doesn’t fit the standard definition of companion species. The most important thing is to be genuinely interested in your topic.
  • What I’ll be looking for, in general, in your paper:
  1. ability to write a credible, analytical, and persuasive (argumentative) research paper;
  2. understanding of the purposes and processes of academic research, especially as it is practiced in western cultures;
  3. ability to access and use the appropriate research tools available in college libraries;
  4. ability to select and read critically books and materials that are related to your specific research topic and to demonstrate a well-balanced review of the literature for that topic;
  5. an appropriate and well-reasoned thesis that is clearly stated and quickly identifiable;
  6. personal understanding of and engagement with the topic;
  7. language which reflects your genuine engagement with the research while still being precise and formal in tone and style. It is acceptable to use the first person “I” in your paper, but remember to maintain a formal, academic tone;
  8. correct use of MLA for documentation of the sources you cite and for the overall layout of your paper.


  • Source requirements. A minimum of ten required sources as follows:
  1. five academic/scholarly secondary sources, one of which must be from a current—within the past five years—peer-reviewed scholarly journal;
  2. five credible/popular secondary sources (most magazines and newspapers would fall into this category);
  3. a minimum of five of the ten sources must be from the EdCC Library databases.

Additional information about your sources:

  1. The above are the minimum requirements: feel free to use more than ten
  2. You can get all your sources from the EdCC Library databases if you
  3. Some students use only academic/scholarly sources and skip the popular I’m fine with that.
  4. You are welcome to include primary sources in your paper, including the first person “I.” Keep in mind, however, that if you use first person, use it sparingly as evidence for your arguments, not as informal personal You must maintain a formal tone, which means that most of your paper will be in third person (“we”). For the purposes of this course, Wikipedia does NOT meet any of the above requirements. Yes, you can use Wikipedia as a source, but it won’t count towards the required sources.
  5. Please note that religious texts—Bible, Koran, etc.—are classified as sacred texts and are neither secondary nor academic/scholarly sources.
  6. Our class textbooks will not count towards your ten required sources; in other words, you can use our textbooks as sources, but you’ll need ten additional sources.


See also the “Research Process Checkpoints” column in our daily schedules for important information.


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