How to Research a Paper

Points to Remember

Make the most of the library (and the librarian)

Make the most of the library. Consult with the librarian about how to find relevant sources for your topic. However, don’t just rely on the librarian – learn how to take full advantage of the card catalog and computer systems as well as any services that your library provides.

In addition to quality books on your subject, a good library will contain a number of other invaluable resources that will aid you in researching your paper, such as:

  • Good bibliographies that you can use to find other books, articles, and papers
  • Relevant journals and academic papers
  • Videos and documentaries relating to your topic

Make sure to take full advantage of all of these resources.

Discuss your topic with other people

Your friends, colleagues, professors as well as any experts that you know can also help provide you with useful resources for you to research. What’s more, they may also have valuable information, insights and/or perspectives on your topic that they can share with you. You may even want to formally interview them, particularly if they are a known expert in the field.

Search online for your topic

The internet is another resource that you will want to consult (although make sure to verify any information that you discover online – the internet is not always the most accurate of sources). Make a list of keywords relating to your topic and search sites as well as relevant forums and discussion groups. You may even want to ask people in relevant forums and discussion groups questions relating to your topic

Other points to remember

  • Get more sources than you need and then pair down to the best sources
  • Make sure your resources fit into the general theme and purpose of your paper
  • Get a wide variety of sources which reflect different views on the topic
  • Before you begin your more serious research, find some good overview articles, books and/or videos to help familiarize you with the topic and give you a general understanding of the issues and concerns relating to your subject

The 8 Steps to Writing a Great Research Paper

  1. Pick a good, well-focused topic that you are interested in
  2. Determine the goal and/or purpose of your paper
  3. Gather together the best resources available on your topic
  4. Study and take notes of your resources
  5. Turn your notes into a well-organized outline
  6. Write a rough draft
  7. Revise (over and over again) your rough draft
  8. Get feedback from friends, colleagues and experts (then rewrite again)