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Ten Steps for Writing a Research Paper

Page history last edited by Mrs. Durff 13 years, 8 months ago



Study Skills


Ten Steps to a Good Research Paper





To write a good research paper, you must be specific about your topic, know what you want to say, and say it effectively. Following these ten steps will help you write a good research paper.





Step 1.Choose Your Topic. When choosing a topic, choose one in which you are interested, and for which there is enough information. If your topic is too broad, you will have difficulty completing your paper. “The Effects of Pollution” is too broad because there are so many effects of pollution. “The Effects of Pollution on Geese in the Northeast Section of Duluth, Minnesota” is too narrow. You are not likely to find much information that is this specific. “The Effects of Pollution in Yosemite National Park” is just about right as a topic.





Step 2. Locate Information. Use information from a variety of reference sources.These sources include encyclopedias, almanacs, scholarly journals, books, magazines, and newspapers. Find these sources in print form, on CD-ROMS, and on the Internet.





Step 3. Prepare Bibliography Cards. Prepare bibliography cards to document the sources of information you use when writing your paper. Your library will have style manuals to illustrate how to prepare bibliography cards for various sources of information.


These cards may be hard copies or online.





Step 4. Prepare Note Cards. Use note cards to record notes from each source you use when writing your paper. Number your note cards to keep track of them. May be either hard copies or online.





Step 5. Prepare a web or a map of your paper. Butcher paper or blank newsprint is ideal.






Step 6. Type A Rough Draft. Use your note cards and outline to write a rough draft of your paper. As you write your draft, use numbered footnotes to credit sources from which you take quotations or major ideas.






Step 7. Revise Your Rough Draft. Make any changes needed to be sure your ideas are clearly expressed and your writing has accurate spelling and grammar. Peer editing and/or online collaboration is an excellent idea.





Step 8. Prepare Your Bibliography. At the end of your paper, provide a list of all the sources you used to gather information for the paper. Your bibliography cards will provide this information. List your sources in alphabetical order by the first word on each of your bibliography cards. Many word processors will generate this for you.





Step 9. Prepare a Title Page (required) and Table of Contents (optional for this assignment but can be done for extra credit.) . The title page is the first page of the paper. It should include the title of your paper, your name, course name, and the date on which the paper is due. The table of contents is the second page. It should list the main topics, important subtopics, and the page on which each topic is introduced in your paper. Many word processors will generate this for you.





Step 10. Final Checklist. Before handing in your paper, be sure you can answer “Yes” to each of the following questions.





Did I include a title page?


Did I include a table of contents?


Did I number all pages correctly?


Did I provide in text citations for quotations and major sources of information?


Did I include a end notes?


Did I keep a second copy for my files?


Following these ten steps will help you write a good research paper.





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