How to write a research paper

Research Paper

A research paper is an expanded report using multiple sources to develop a topic or a thesis.


Step 1: Read and review the assignment until you understand all requirements.


Step 2: Choose a topic.

A good topic has these characteristics:

  1. Interesting: it will hold your interest and it is something you would like to learn more about
  2. Manageable: keep in mind your resource and time constraints
  3. Original: find an angle on your topic that is not the “same old” way of looking at something

Try to avoid a topic that is too broad or too narrow.


Step 3: Do some preliminary reading.

  • Go to encyclopedias to get some background information about your topic. This will allow you to further narrow or broaden your topic.  This can also help clarify your interest in a given topic.
  • Write down some questions you want to answer by the end of your research.
  • Write down some areas you are planning to research (library books, specific internet sites, Google Scholar etc.).


Step 4: Locate resources.

  • Look for a variety of sources.  Use books, magazines, newspapers, the internet, etc.
  • Evaluate the sources.  Are they up-to-date and from reliable authors?  Skim the table of contents or subheadings to ensure it will be helpful to you.
  • Write down the works cited page information for each source on a note card.  This will ensure that you have the correct information and will save you a lot of trouble later on.


Step 5: Read and take notes on resources.

  • Label your note cards differently for each source.
  • Include the page number of the source (This will ensure you have the proper citation information).
  • Paraphrase information using your own shorthand as long as you will remember what you meant later on.
  • Use quotation marks when you copy directly from the source.


Step 6: Write an original thesis statement.


Step 7: Begin drafting.


Step 8: Revise.