How to Develop and Write a Research Paper

How to Develop and
Write a Research Paper
Research Paper Assignment
Identify what the assignment requires:
 topic possibilities
 number of sources
 type of sources (journal, book, Internet)
 citation requirements (MLA, APA, Chicago)
 presentation requirements (oral or written)
 length of paper
 due date
Step I: Getting Started
• Choose a topic based on requirements.
• Ask yourself questions:
What do I know about the topic?
What would I like to learn?
What will others learn from reading
my paper?
Complete the KWL sheet now!
Formulate a Research Question
Start by finding background information on
your topic:
– Resource Links to Background
How to Find Journal Articles in Electronic
How to find Books in the Online Catalog
STEP II: Personal
Exploration of Topic
Once you have familiarized yourself with the
topic, reflect on your initial impressions:
 Free Writing – just write down your thoughts
 List Key Words – list words that describe your topic
 Clustering/Webbing - create a web that links terms
together (an example of webbing is on the next
Webbing - red is the topic
1.Relax. Play some creative music.
2.Spelling or style doesn't count.
3.Don't worry about organization.
4.Free-associate ideas. Keep them
5.Write or sketch as quickly as you
6.Write or sketch in any order.
7.Develop all ideas.
8.Keep working.
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Formulate a Question
Decide what question you want to answer with
your research.
 Formulate a Question – the answer to the
question becomes your thesis question.
 For example:
– How has my chosen author’s writing provided insight into the Civil
Rights movement?
– How has my chosen author impacted how people think about the
– How has my author of chose impacted the way people view
– How has this author affected how we now view………..?
Do some critical thinking and
write your thesis statement
down in one sentence. Your
thesis statement is like a
declaration of your belief or a
roadmap for the reader. The
main portion of your essay
will consist of points to
support and defend this
Starting Your Research
Decide what kind of information that you
need based on your research assignment.
 The information will be determined by your
topic and assignment requirements:
Current or historical or both
Biographical information
Criticism and analysis
And More
Finding Information in Books
Find Books – Check the library on-line catalog:
Search just Mount Ida College or all MLN libraries:
For help with searching or stop by and see a
librarian in the Wadsworth Library.
Locate if the book is in the Wadsworth Library.
If the book is not available at Mount Ida, you may
directly request that the book be delivered to the
Wadsworth Library or ask the Librarian to request
the book for you.
Decide on the
Usefulness of a Book
How to Evaluate a Book for the
Read title as clue to content
Scan table of contents
Search for key terms in book index
Finding Information in
Find Journal Articles in electronic databases:
Electronic Databases
2. Ask the Librarian about the best databases to
search on your topic:
i.e., InfoTrac Expanded Academic – Journal
Articles - full text or citation (find actual journal
through the library)
Decide on the Usefulness of
Journal Articles
Evaluate usefulness of journal articles for
– Read title and subtitle as clue to content.
– Read abstract if available.
– Check key terms at end of article for related
links to further explore topic.
Finding Information
Using Internet Resources
Click on Internet Resources part of the
MLN homepage.
Or select a search engine or website.
Decide on the Usefulness of
Internet Site Information
Evaluate Internet site:
find source of the site and information
 Who is responsible for the website?
 Who provided the information?
• a person who is known in the field of study.
• an organization that is reputable, i.e.
American Cancer Society.
note currency of site – when was it last
assess relevance of information to the
Ask a Librarian for Support
A librarian can assist you with the process
of finding information sources for your
Stop by the library. Click for Library
Contact the librarian via e-mail or in person.
How to Avoid Plagiarism
How to Avoid Plagiarism – Review the
PowerPoint presentation. It covers:
– Citing sources of information.
– How to paraphrase, summarize, quote.
– How to cite your sources for your works cited
Taking Notes
Organizing Your Research Using Note Cards
– Read source actively by highlighting important
– Record quotes that you may want to use later and
include source and page number on card.
– Create paraphrases and summaries on note cards
directly from your research.
– Record on each note card the author’s name and page
number for later reference.
Organizing Your Research Using a Computer
Organize Your Research
Construct an Outline
Follow your outline.
Begin to incorporate research material into each
Cite your source for each quote, paraphrase and
Check with your instructor about which
documentation and format style to use.
Be sure to include your opinion and comments on
the research.
Write your conclusion based on your answer to
your research question (your thesis).
Need Help with
Writing Your Draft?
A writing tutor can help you with how to
outline and develop your paper.
 Make an appointment with a writing tutor at
the Writing Center.
Preparing the Final Version of
Your Research Paper
Revise draft based on comments from your
instructor and/or tutor
Check cited sources for accuracy and MLA Style
or another style format.
Proof read your work – don’t forget the Spell and
Grammar check in Microsoft Word.
Add works cited page.
Add title page.
The original module was supported by the
Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners
through a LSTA Grant.
Marge Lippincott, Dean of Information
Technology and Learning Resources, coordinated
the effort and created the PowerPoint with Judy
Harding and Christine McLaughlin.