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How to Begin a College Research Paper?

Writing a college research paper can be a stressful task for any student.  Here are some helpful tips to get you started. 

  1. Choose a topic.  When choosing a topic to research, you should always follow the guidelines given by your professor about what kinds of topics to choose from.  If you are unsure what to pick, talk to your professor to gain some ideas of research topics.  It is important to make sure that you can find an adequate amount of information on the topic you choose.  It would be hard to write a research paper on a subject you can’t find any information on.
  2. Read and research.  Start with finding as many resources as you can on your topic.  You can then narrow your sources down to the ones with relevant information about what you are researching.  Say you were writing a research paper on the decrease in frog populations.  You would first find all the books you could on frogs and amphibians, then narrow your sources to books and articles concerned with the disappearance of frogs, why, and the impact of it. 
  3. Organize.  Make sure you take a sufficient amount of notes with each source used.  Create an outline that maps out the points you will be covering in your research.  Reread your sources to make sure you didn’t miss anything of forget something important. 
  4. Formulate your thesis.  This is usually a well thought out hypothesis regarding the research topic, usually explained in a few sentences or more at the beginning of your paper.  Start with a general thesis idea, and go back and revise it as many times as you need throughout your writing process.
  5. Give credit for your sources.  Not citing sources used for any paper, is considered plagiarism and will result in a failing grade.
  6. In a research paper it is not only important to cite your work within your essay, but to provide a works cited page as the final page of your paper.
  7. Detail.  Make sure the evidence presented in your paper is clear, understandable, and reliable.  Make it believable by providing not only supporting evidence, but the negative as well.  Use transitional sentences to move from one topic to the next, explaining the relationship between each. 
  8. Reread and revise.  It is always a good idea to create more than one draft of your essay.  It reduces the amount of possible mistakes in the final draft of your paper. 
  9. Relax, don’t panic, organize your thoughts.  If you get confused, just ask for help.
  10. Start your paper.