WebQuesting "How to Research the Cause and Effect Essay"


Welcome to Ms. Sullivan's ENG4U Research Quest.

Research is the backbone of an effective cause and effect essay. That said, to be able to research effectively, you must first equip yourself with some of the basics. The goal of this web quest is to guide you through a variety of instructional sources that will assist you in negotiating your way through the research process. Basic questions to be answered through this web quest exploration are:

1. How do I pre-plan my research process so that I am efficient and focused in the content I gather?

2. How can manage a vast amount of potential research to find content that best develops my argument?

3. How can I make the most of web research?

4. How can I efficiently record research to use later in the writing process?

5. What is plagiarism and how can I avoid it?

6. How do I properly document and cite sources?



Explore the websites provided to familiarize yourself with key elements necessary to making the most of your research. At the end of this quest, you will be expected to formulate a workable research plan which will guide you in developing content for your essay. This plan will apply to both your independant exploration (of web and print sources), and your gathering of content during our visit to the Toronto Reference Library. 


File:Toronto Reference Library, exterior.jpg



The Process:

  1. Review your notes from the FED UP documentary. Do you recognize the seed of an idea or possible thesis?
  2. Read over the list of cause and effect essay topic options provided on the assignment handout. Is there a topic of interest or one that connects well to your starter notes?
  3. Select a topic and deconstruct it into a tentative outline with a provisional thesis or hypothesis and subtheses points. You'll need some knowledge of the topic to be able to do this. Start with some basic research on the topic to ground your thinking. Translating your ideas into an outline will formalize your thinking and set you up with a workable plan that will help guide your more intensive research process.
  4. Based upon your outline, create a list of basic research questions to direct you in the research process.
  5. Broaden your understanding of the topic with some specific internet research. Use the research questions you created as a guide. Employ effective reading strategies to help you manage a vast amount of content,
  6. Familiarize yourself with the basics of plagiarism.    


    7. Take notes. Know when to directly quote, when to paraphrase, and when to summarize.

  • Remember that as you continue to research, your ideas will evolve. After researching your initial plan, reflect on your findings. Consider, has your original argument and essay outline stayed the same? Make any necessary adaptations to your argument and essay outline, and continue to develop your research plan with specific questions needing further exploration.

     8. Cite your sources using MLA in-text parenthetical citation and corresponding Works Cited List

MLA Handbook, 7th edition



Having thoroughly familiarized yourself with the process, create a simplified cheat sheet of tips to remind you of key points of interest or details that deserve highlighting, and a workable research plan for your essay. The intention is that these will be a practical reference and a guide for you to use when you are in the heart of your research process. Know what you are doing before you start; have a plan of attack. Gathering, interpreting, analyzing, and documenting the research content should be your main focus (not the technical process of how to do this). 

I will be checking:

1. Your preliminary outline with a thesis/hyposthesis and prospective subtheses.

2. Your research plan.

2. Your list of guiding research questions. 

3. Your reference cheat sheet.

4. The begininng of your Works Cited page. Start by citing the documentary and continue with the essay "Our Oceans Are Tuning into Plastic...Are We? by Susan Casey. If you don't actually end up citing these in your argument, just delete them. The purpose of this task is to practice proper citation.

Hint: Consult the 'READ MORE' section at the end of Casey's essay for links to additional sources. i.e. http://www.mindfully.org/Plastic/plastic.htm (this cite is fantastic!...and the links lead to more links http://www.mindfully.org/Plastic/Polyethylene/PET-Plastic-Photographs1jan07.htm)


Remember that the sources here will help you with the planning, researching, writing, and documenting processes. Refer back to them whenever necessary.



Linscheid Library (Library of East Central University)

Perdue University Online Writing Lab (MLA Formatting and Style Guide)

Citation Machine by David Warlick & The Landmark Project

Writing at the University of Toronto (Writing Resource website)

The Toronto Reference Library (http://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/)

Toronto Public Library Homepage