The research essay plan is intended to provide structure for the research essay due at the end of the semester. The plan should include an outline of the topics that will be covered in the essay, and where in the essay each topic will be located. Students will receive feedback on their essay plan in time to help complete their final research essay.
What you need to include:
• Proposed title
• Thesis statement
• 6-8 topic sentences
• At least one reference per topic sentence
• Bibliography
What to do:
1) Brainstorm some ideas. This involves writing down as many different ideas, theories and examples that relate to your chosen offence as possible.You have already completed some preliminary research into your topic as part of your annotated bibliography, so there should be lots of ideas floating around your head already. Don’t rule anything out at this stage. You are not submitting this stuff – the point here is to get as many different ideas down as possible.

2) Start arranging these ideas into a coherent narrative. This means selecting those ideas that best illustrate how you think of and understand your topic. Pick those that seem the most relevant and important in explaining your chosen offence.
3) Write a thesis statement. A thesis statement is a very short (1-2 sentences maximum) description of what your essay is about. It will summarise in a nutshell what you are arguing in your essay. For example: ‘This essay will argue that the best theory for explaining car theft is strain theory’.
4) Identify the main points that will comprise your argument. These should include what theories you will be discussing and how they relate to your chosen offence.All of your main points should be relevant to the thesis statement.
5) Use your main points to write a series of 6-8topic sentences. Topic sentences are statements of the main ideas that you intend to explain in your essay. They are the claims that support your argument, and usually are used as the opening sentence in each paragraph. The purpose of the remainder of the paragraph is to back up and elaborate upon the topic sentence.
Examples of topic sentences include:
• ‘Car theft results in significant costs to the Australian public’.
• ‘Certain communities are more vulnerable to car theft than others’.
• ‘Unemployment has a strong influence upon rates of car theft’.
• ‘Explaining car theft requires an understanding of structural theories of crime’.
• ‘Strain theory is better than other theories for a variety of reasons’.
6) Following each topic sentence, briefly indicate what research you are going to use to demonstrate your point. Include a reference to at least one scholarly source.
• Topic sentence:Car theft results in significant costs to the Australian public.
• Evidence/research: To demonstrate this point I plan to use a report from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (2013) outlining the value of cars stolen in Australia in 2012.

• Topic sentence: Explaining car theft requires an understanding of structural theories of crime.
• Evidence/research:Reference Merton’s strain theory as outlined by White &Perrone (2012) and Peterson et al (2006).
7) List each reference in the bibliography.

Important things to remember
Remember to use proper SAGE Harvard formatting for your bibliography.
You can extend beyond journal articles and books in your source selection – statistics from reputable sources are acceptable, particularly when outlining the dimensions of your topic.

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