Secondary Source Report


Read the article or chapter, underlining important passages, jotting notes and questions in the margins. Write a double-spaced, typed response to the article (max. 2 pages). Write in complete sentences, but don’t worry about style: it’s just a report. Your report should include:

I. Give the full citation for the article or chapter in MLA Style.

II. Identify the thesis of the article or chapter. Quote the thesis (cite the page number). Now restate the thesis in your own words. Keep in mind that the thesis may not be one sentence; it may be elaborated in several sentences, sometimes in different parts of the essay.

III. Analyze and describe the STRUCTURE of the article or chapter. You should not try to answer all the following questions, but rather use them to guide your analysis of how the article is written. Divide the article or chapter into sections, and label them to identify the component parts. Some of the parts you might encounter include:

  • Hook: how does the author begin?
  • Exposition: How does the article establish its core idea factually (who, what, where when)? What kind of groundwork is prepared for the thesis?
  • Critical conversation or debate (“they say”): what other arguments is the author responding to?
  • Thesis (“I say”): the core idea analytically (why, how)
  • Self-disclosure: discussion of author’s own background and interests
  • Definitions of key terms.
  • Theoretical foundations: what theories is the author building on?
  • Historical and/or Biographical context.
  • Transitions: Pay attention to sub-headers, transitions, and topic sentences.
  • Evidence: What kind of evidence is introduced, where, and how?
  • Analysis: What kind of analysis is offered, where, and how?
  • Quotations, Paraphrase, Summary: How does the author incorporate other critics and scholars? What kind of framing devices are used?
  • Conclusion: How does the author bring the argument to a conclusion?

Note: You may write your analysis of the article’s structure in paragraph form, but you might also try what’s called “sketch noting”: using words & simple cartoon drawings to encapsulate the structural relationships between the core ideas and parts of the argument. See the great example below of a sketch-note SSR.

IV. List three rhetorical strategies you would like to apply to your own essays. By rhetorical strategies, I mean specific ways of writing or structuring an argument. This list may include a single word or phrase, a good transition, or a way of setting up an argument. Give specific examples—even copy the exact wording.

V. (Optional) List any rhetorical moves you do not want to imitate. If you don’t like something, learn how NOT to do it. Identify what turned you off and explain why.

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