Cypress College Divine Footwe

Guidelines for both Formal Analysis and Research Papers

Introduction: the introduction to your paper should be specific and clear. It tells the reader exactly what the paper is going to be about. Students will lose points if the introduction is too general and rambling.

A three-page paper is considered to be a short paper; therefore the introduction needs to be concise.

Formal Analysis introduction should include (when available):

  • title of the work of art,
  • the type of art it is, for example, a free-standing sculpture, a painting, drawing, relief sculpture, etc. ,
  • the medium/media which is the materials the art is made of,
  • size (or estimated size),
  • name of the artist (if known),
  • date of the artwork,
  • where the artwork is currently.

Research introduction should include:

  • the above information if the paper is on a work of art.
  • A thesis statement that quickly and effectively tells what your paper will do. A thesis is a statement that addresses a specific problem or question. For example, The Hellenistic style of art is diverse and therefore confusing, but there are two characteristics that create continuity so the Hellenistic style can be better understood.

Points will be deducted from introductions that are too general and random. Work toward being as concise as possible.

Body of paper: Should always be relevant to the introduction.

Formal Analysis should include information about the subject matter and composition of the artwork. You should include specific information online, color, space, proportion, texture, light and shadow, mood. Discuss how these elements work together using the vocabulary you have learned in class.

Each paragraph should move your paper forward. In a formal analysis, you are breaking down the work of art through analysis of each element. For example, you have chosen a landscape to analyze and one of the elements of formal analysis is color. The landscape has a variety of reds in it. Your job is to describe how those reds are different and how the artist uses the color red. Does the artist use reds to unify the composition? Are the reds used to create drama? Are the reds symbolic? This could be discussed in a Formal Analysis paper.

In a research paper, each paragraph is developed around the research that is relevant to the thesis to create unity and coherence. Each sentence (and therefore, paragraph) should connect or relate to the preceding sentences and the ones following. The writing should flow so that (from the reader’s point of view) your paper becomes an intelligible argument. The development of your thesis should proceed clearly without being repetitive or random.

Paragraph length: a paragraph is a coherent block of information usually more than two sentences and less than ten sentences. The space between paragraphs allows space for the reader to take in the point you made in the paragraph.

Quotations should only be used when relevant to the topic and the paragraph where the quotes are used. Quotes four or five lines long should be indented and single-spaced. Example:

“Despite the ravages of time and humans, most of the Parthenon’s peripteral colonnade is still standing (or has been re-erected), and art historians know a great deal about the building and its sculptural program. The architect was Iktinos, assisted, according to some sources, by Kallikrates, who may have played the role of contractor, supervising the construction of the building.”[1]

Your paper should not be a string of quotations!

Conclusion: A conclusion generally sums up the paper’s discussion but can also set the discussion in a fresh perspective. You can conclude by using an idea or detail from the beginning of your paper, perhaps amplify it or vary it in a way that takes it a step forward. The most important thing is not to introduce completely unrelated material in the conclusion.

Citations: example of a correct citation for website: Nigel Strudwick, Egyptology Resources, The Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences, Cambridge University, 1994, revised 2001,, 7 July 1998.

Use citations to show where you found specific ideas and /or quotations. You can cite sources using footnotes or endnotes.

Bibliography: example of a correct reference for a website in a Bibliography: Strudwick, Nigel. Egyptology Resources. The Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences, Cambridge University, 1994, revised 2001. 7 July 1998.

All material researched goes into your bibliography whether you used it in your paper or not. The Bibliography should be in alphabetical order by author’s last name. The Bibliography is separate from the citations. It is a separate page placed at the back of your paper.

Why points might be deducted from your paper:

  • Grammatical errors and misspelled words
  • Research that is not relevant to your topic
  • “light” research – you used Wikipedia, .com sites, travel sites, and other unsubstantiated material instead of using the library databases or relevant texts. You should always get as close to primary and secondary sources as possible.
  • Incorrect format of citations.
  • Incorrect format of bibliography.
  • Repetitive – the same point is made many times instead of furthering the research or the formal analysis.

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