Writing research papers is a normal part of the college experience. Sometimes, it may be more difficult to begin a research paper, especially when trying to come with a topic that is relevant to the course. I have become accustomed to writing these types of assignments and have found general steps to use for each research assignment I have been assigned.
Finding a topic:
First, look through the topics given by the professor or look for relevant topics by doing a Google search. This step will allow you to get general information about the topic and learn about current news or events associated with the topic.
Formulating a stance on the topic:
Try to form a thesis or main idea that you will argue or support in the paper based on the general information you get about the topic.
Obtain further information about the topic of interest:
Look for scholarly and peer-reviewed journals and articles through Google Scholar and other databases such as Psych Info, ERIC, Academic Search Premier, etc. Try to think of search terms that will yield the most results; you may need to try several different terms in order to get different articles that are closely related to the topic you are researching.
Read and annotate sources-read articles once to get an overview of the information and/or studies that are presented in the article in order to understand what the article is about. Read the articles a second time and highlight, take notes, underline, and identify important quotes that strongly support the thesis or main idea. Think about how the article relates to your thesis or main idea and what point the article makes about your thesis or main point. If the article cannot be linked to your thesis or main idea, it may not be the best article for this particular research paper.
Try to organize your sources and think about where they should go in the paper; think about the content of each paragraph and how the research matches up with this content. Think about the best places to input particular quotes that support the thesis or main idea.
Writing the Paper:
Begin to write the paper by introducing the topic in a general manner, such as identifying a debate that is happening or identifying a controversial aspect of the topic. Briefly identify reasons or main ideas that will be supported in the paper. Input the thesis or main idea at the end of the introduction and then transition into the next paragraph and use research to support the first reason made in the introduction. In the next paragraphs, support the other reasons/points made in the introduction using the research found. Reiterate importance of the topic and the main ideas/reasons in the conclusion without simply restating ideas and research.
Make sure to cite your sources according to the professor’s desired style, such as MLA, APA or Chicago style.