How to Write a Research Paper
1. Choose a Topic for Your Paper
What are your interests in the subject matter (within the guidelines of your instructor)? Learn a little bit more about coming up with a topic/research question. Opposing Viewpoint and Global Issues in Context databases are two great choices to help you choose a topic for your research. Go to the browsing issues link from their homepage.
2. Start with Background Information on your Topic
Background research gives you a solid foundation to start your paper. It gives you basic definitions, history, and scope of the topic. Credo, Britannica, Gale Virtual Reference Library are great databases for this type of research.
3. Create an Outline
This is the basic blueprint of your paper. Ignoring these steps can leave you wondering aimlessly for hours. What are the major points you want to cover in this paper? Think of it as a roadmap that will take you from introduction to the conclusion of your paper.
4. Find Books, Scholarly Articles, and Newspaper Articles on your Topic
Using your research question and outline start your research. Use Housatonic Search to find physical books in the library, and the Database Page to find topic specific articles. Your choice of resources must be related to your research question. Be specific with your search terms and keywords. Filters are important in using library databases. They focus your search and remove irrelevant results.
What is Housatonic Search: A global search that will search most of the library databases and catalog in one search. It will merge all results of book, eBook, video, audiobooks, scholarly article, newspaper etc.
Database Page: Use individual databases to find subject specific articles for your paper.
Examples of Database Choices Based on Research Need
5. Ask a Librarian
If you run into any problems with your research process, please ask for help at the reference desk, or call 203-332-5071,fill out this form to Schedule an Appointment With a Librarian.
6. Start Writing and Constructing your Paper
Your introductory paragraph doesn't need to be perfect as you start writing. This is a first draft. Focus on merging your ideas, thoughts and sources in this process. Each paragraph should flow into the next paragraph.
7. Pay Attention to Citation
Make a note of all source information from the resources used in writing your paper. Begin to construct your works cited or references page. Make sure your quotes are used in context, and are building your argument as a writer. APA Citation Guide, MLA Citation Guide, APA Purdue Sample Paper, MLA Purdue Sample Paper, Excelsior Online Lab
As you work on your paper use the Writing Center
Location: LH 152
Karyn Smith, Coordinator, 203-332-5133
Open Monday through Thursday: 10:00 AM - 7:00 PM,
A service to help with your research paper. This is a great option if you are unable to make the writing center hours. For questions on Etutoring contact Marianne Tecun 203-332-5139