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How Do I Write A Research Paper?

Writing a research paper is a step-by-step process. If you follow the guidelines below, you will be off to an excellent start. Remember that steps may overlap, and that half the battle is selecting a topic that is of interest to you. If you are assigned a topic, find an aspect of the topic that has meaning for you. You will be amazed at how much more interesting your work will become. The links below cover all aspects of writing the research paper. If you need help in a particular area, ask for help. That's why we're here.

Included on this webpage:

  • Selecting a topic
  • Elements of the research paper - What do I need to include?
  • Where to find source material
  • Examining and evaluating source material
  • Taking notes
  • Protect yourself against plagiarism
  • Writing the Works Cited page and Intext citations
  • Sharing your work
  • Evaluating your work

Elements of the research paper - What do I need to include?


Where to find source material


Examining and evaluating source material    

Part of being an excellent researcher is finding and selecting the best sources.
Examine and evaluate the source critically:

  • Does it answer the questions you have?
  • Who wrote the information?  Credentials?
  • When was the material written? Why was it written?
  • Is the information relevant to your topic and the guidelines of the paper?
  • Does the source present another aspect of your topic that you should examine?

Evaluating Web Sites
From Widener Library  

The A,B,C,D guide to evaluation.
Copyright © 2011 President and Fellows of Harvard College

Evaluating Websites
©2011 Multnomah County

What should I ask myself before using a particular website?


Taking notes

You have found excellent sources, so you're ready to take notes. Whichever system you use, paper, online, or a combination of the two, be sure that you have included identifying information, like color-coding, on each card. This will help you organize your material.  


Protect Yourself Against Plagiarism

What is plagiarism? Well, it can be tricky. It is certainly more complicated than just not using someone's exact words. Check out at least one of these sources. Again, be prepared to laugh and learn.


Writing the Works Cited Page and Intext Citations


Sharing Your Work

Sharing your work is an important element of the process. Besides a written paper, will you be creating a prezi presentation? an online poster? a dramatic presentation? a pinterest?  Will you be presenting as a group?

Tech Tools


Evaluating Your Work

Take time when the project is completed to evaluate your research paper experience. Which steps were easiest for you? Why? Which steps were more difficult? Why? What will you do differently next time? Where do you need to allot more time?

Like most projects in life, you can improve by realistically looking at your work, recognizing where you need to improve and then taking the appropriate steps.  

A few tips:

  • carefully read over the assignment 
  • allot enough time for each aspect or step of the paper, especially pulling together
  • your notes and writing the paper
  • ask for help when you need it
  • keep focused on the topic and goal(s) of your paper