pre essay writing

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A prospectus is the plan for your research paper that you submit before actually writing the essay or completing the research. How a prospectus can be helpful:

  • When you have to write annotations for each source, it makes you read each source more carefully.
  • This allows you to see what has been done in the field and where your own research can fit.
  • Writing a prospectus can help you gain a good perspective on what is being said about your topic.
  • It is an excellent way to organize your information. Instead of re-reading a long article over and over again, you have a summary to remind yourself of its main points.


Your prospectus should answer the following questions in complete sentences:

1.) What is your topic in focus (ethics and/or innovation in what field)? What questions, stemming from your own concerns and curiosity, might drive this essay and research in a meaningful way? Type up the questions that you hope to find answers to.

2.) What is your proposed thesis statement? This might naturally shift as you research and write, but you need to formulate your own assertive views now that you’ve gained some knowledge from the research you’ve engaged in.

3.) How do you plan to structure/organize your essay? Specifically, you should describe what the purpose of each paragraph will be. In other words, which sub-topics of the main topic have you chosen to focus on? Some generic sub-topics might be: historical context, roots/causes, current news, testimonies or cases, legal challenges, oppositional views, effects/results/consequences/possible solutions, etc. Based on your research, adapt these and make the “essay organization” unique to your own research paper.

4.) Reflection on your research: What do you still need to find out? Where do you currently stand with this research paper (any issues in research, time, essay organization, questions you may have for your instructor, etc.)?


1.) Provide a bibliography of 5 or more possible sources you might use in your paper — listed with correct citation form using MLA documentation style (if there is a direct URL link to the source online, please provide it so that I can check it). Each source should be annotated with 2-3 sentences where you:

a.) summarize that source’s argument in your own words

b.) state briefly how it will connect to your specific question of interest or thesis

2.) Lastly, if you have more than 5 sources listed, highlight in a bright color which ones you are almost certain you will be using in your essay.

*REMEMBER: you must have variety of genres in your sources (videos, news articles, scholarly articles, e-books, interviews, etc.) and at least one of your sources must be scholarly.

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