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Research Paper: A step-by-step guide: 1. Getting Started


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Writing research papers is an important part of your college learning experience, training you to research and write effectively. However, if you don't know how to start, writing a research paper can be a daunting task. Don't worry! We will guide you through the process. The sections in this step-by-step guide allow you to learn at your own pace. Revisit the information as much as you need. Let's get started!

What Is a Research Paper?

A research paper is an expanded essay that presents your investigation and argument on a focused topic based on the information you gathered. It demonstrates not only your understanding of available information from experts in the area of your research, but also your evaluation and insight on the subject matter through an orderly and logical presentation of your argument.

What Are the Qualities of a Good Research Paper?

Make sure you know the requirements of your specific assignment. But in general, a good research paper will have the following qualities:

  • A strong and focused thesis statement
  • Logically organized arguments and main points
  • Each main point is supported by persuasive facts and examples
  • Opposing viewpoints are included and rebutted, showing why the author's argument is more valid
  • The paper shows the author's understanding of the topic and the material being used
  • The work is original, not plagiarized 
  • Every source is correctly documented and credited in a recognized citation style
  • The paper is written in clear language in a style suitable for college research


Need Help?

Need help with your research paper? A librarian can help guide you through the process of research.

Here are ways to contact a librarian:

Research Paper Process

Following the research process will help you with your paper.

Select a Topic 


Find Background Information


Formulate a Thesis Statement


Create an Outline


Locate and Retrieve Materials


Evaluate Information


Take Notes


Write the Paper


Review Paper and Citations

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