The Steps to the Research Paper

The Steps to Your Research Paper
G. M. Ladinsky
1. Set up a time line that meets your needs.
2. Narrow your topic and formulate a question that you can explore. Be sure your research is based on
something that interests you.
3. Review your notes from your library workshops.
4. Plan your search strategy. Go to LAMC’s library home page. Perhaps begin with the library online
catalog and then work your way to the databases. As you go, your keywords that you use for your search
may change according to what you find. Evaluate the sources that you find.
5. Maintain a working bibliography. Remember to maintain a stack of index cards or use notebook paper
to record all the bibliographic information as well as a summary of the information that the source
Each source must be cited in your paper via signal phrases and in-text citations. Direct quotes must be
placed around words that are not yours. For example, unless you have done the actual research, conducted
an actual interview, or done a study to which you are referring, you must give the author credit to avoid
7. When you get home from the library, do something you enjoy. Then get comfortable and review all the
information that you have gathered. Sort through your sources and look for a focus or pattern. Can you
answer the question you set out to answer? If not, do you need to alter your question to fit the sources
you have found? Here’s where you begin brainstorming to find a focus. Continue to freewrite or
brainstorm until you find a focus that you are comfortable with. Then write a tentative thesis. Look for a
strategy that you can apply to the paper such as compare and contrast, cause and effect, definition, example,
etc. Your paper will be a combination of strategies but pick one that can help guide you with your
structure. Don’t forget to consider a pattern such as chronological or order of importance. Next, draw up a
draft outline and/or write a draft. If you haven’t found the right sources, another trip to the library is
necessary. Allow enough time for several trips to the library - in person or online.
The Specifics of Your Research Paper
Include the following:
1. An MLA Title page
2. An MLA outline – with your thesis stated at the top. Place this after the title page. Use lower case roman
numerals for numbering the outline.
3. An intro with a clearly stated thesis statement
4. Body paragraphs that support the thesis
5. An MLA header on each page
6. Parenthetically cited research information
7. A works cited page as follows: cite a minimum of 7 periodicals/books/magazines. One web site may
take the place of one book/magazine. Any additional web sites will not count as a resource without
clearance from me.
8. The paper needs to be 8-10 double spaced typed pages plus the outline and works cited page.
9. Attach the peer review to the back.
Due Dates:
Class presentation of your project: _____________
Peer Review:
Final Draft: Due: _________
Problems? Questions? Concerns? Please come see me.