What is a Research Paper?
WHAT IS A RESEARCH PAPER?
A research paper is an in-depth account about a specific topic. It is based on facts and information collected as a result of thorough research of a topic.
A research paper requires that writers focus on a particular subject, develop a thesis, and support their postitions with convincing evidence: background information, facts, statistics, and descriptions.
Understand your assignment
Read your assignment thoroughly. What are the deadlines? How many pages and sources are required?
Select a topic from the choices provided.
Get an overview of your topic
Begin with a general reference source such as an encyclopedia or atlas to get an overview
Develop a list of keywords
Using the information you read to get an overview, create a list of keywords that will help you in the next stages of information gathering
Find, review and evaluate resources
Search the library and other local library catalogues for book and other print resources. Search the library databases for magazine and journal articles. Evaluate resources for validity, accuracy and usefulness. Create a working bibliography of potential sources.
Focus in on the detail of your topic and if necessary develop a research question.
Read first, then take notes
It is easier to take notes after reading through the material once. You will be better oriented and have a greater overall understanding. Use a systematic approach to notetaking
Develop an outline
Now that you have a few notes and a better understanding of your topic you're ready to turn your focus question into an outline for your paper.
Revisit notes and identify where you need more information Now that you have an outline, take notes on your different sections. Evaluate your notes to ensure you have enough information to write each section.
Write, Edit and Review
Review the citation guide so you can be sure to avoid plagiarism. Refer to your assignment for formatting specifications.
Exploring a Topic--Presearch
Often you will need to gather some background information on your topic before you decide on a narrower focus. Ask yourself:
What do I already know? Why is my topic important?
What do I want/need to know/find out?
What information would help me answer my questions?
Initially, you may want to read some general resources to gain a better understanding of your topic. Then, you can narrow your search by asking yourself:
What keywords can I use to search?
What synonyms, broader or narrower terms, or related ideas could I use?
Will proper names (people or places) focus my search?