Research paper assignment
English 250
Fall 2004

Assignment: Pick a health issue to research and report on. Al Truistic, a wealthy benefactor, has offered to donate $1 million to a good cause and is asking for written reports to help him decide which one to support. The goal of your essay will be to:

  1. Educate and persuade Al that the $1 million should be given to you for your project.
  2. Propose solutions to your health issue, or make suggestions as to how you will spend the money.

Your essay will include

  • at least 4 outside sources (see below)
  • be 4-5 pages in length, not including a works cited page.

The health issue you choose should be one that strongly interests you and that you want to learn more about. The health issue can be

  • physical (autism, vaccine injuries, dyslexia),
  • psychological (depression, schizophrenia)
  • or even environmental (water pollution, air pollution, ozone depletion).

These are very general topics. Yours should be more much more specific (e.g. depression in teenagers, water pollution in New Idria, side effects of the DPT vaccine.)


Sources: A “source” is an essay, a book, a book chapter, an article from a magazine or journal, or an article from a web site. One source could be a personal interview you conduct. At least ONE of your sources must be from print (e.g. a book). In other words, you cannot use only electronic sources (e.g. articles from a web site). You may pick any sources you wish, as long as they are reputable and relevant to your thesis. Avoid sources that are too complicated or too simplistic. If you have any questions about the reliability or relevance of your source, ask me.


Some health related web directories that you might search are:

  • Go Ask Alice, from Columbia University, with lots of information about alcohol & other drugs, fitness and nutrition, emotional health, and sexual health.
  • Medline Plus, a major resource maintained by the National Library of Medicine. Click on Health Topics in the upper left corner for an alphabetical index of topics. On the next screen, click on the letter you want, such as V for vaccinations, or I for immunization. Also has dictionaries, guides to doctors, hospitals and organizations, plus much more.
  • Google, the famous search engine that will let you type in your search words to find websites on your topic -- type pollution and New Idria, for example. For more help designing searches, please see a reference librarian in the Gavilan Library.
  • Proquest is a journal, magazine and newspaper database at the Gavilan Library, helping you find articles in thousands of publications. If you are not at Gavilan College, you will be asked for a library card number. You can get a library card at the Gavilan library. For more help, please see one of the librarians.
  • Gavilan Library Book Catalog will help you locate books in the Gavilan Library.
  • Library homepage will link you to several other databases, the book catalogs at local public libraries, and other libraries where you can borrow materials, just because you are a student at Gavilan. See a librarian for help.


After collecting your research, you should be able to answer important questions about your topic, such as:

  1. How is your health issue defined?
  2. What are its most important symptoms, characteristics, or qualities?
  3. What did you find most striking or unusual about your research?
  4. Why should more people care about your issue?
  5. What are the possible treatments or solutions, and which are most effective?
  6. If it is a “positive” topic (meditation, exercise), what are the benefits?
  7. If it is “negative” topic (alcoholism, vaccine injuries), how can one cope or avoid it



Please note: Papers should be typed, double-spaced, with 12-point font and proper margins. For other paper requirements, consult your syllabus. You must also include a works cited list in MLA format. Lastly, include a copy of the first two pages of EACH source you list.


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