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:
- Interesting: it will hold your interest and it is something you would like to learn more about
- Manageable: keep in mind your resource and time constraints
- 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.