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Tips for Writing a Research Paper
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So, you've picked a topic and developed a thesis statement. Congratulations! The rest is all downhill. Don't get too relaxed, though; remember to stay organized. Here are a few tips to help you do that:

  • Be able to talk about your topic for one full minute. If you can't, you need to learn more about your topic before you write a paper about it. Or it's possible that you need to revise your thesis statement. It's important to stay flexible.

  • Start your searching. Check the HVCC catalogue to find books related to your subject. Use the library databases using keywords that you pull out of your thesis statement.

  • Revise search terms if necessary. Are you getting too many hits? That means you need to narrow the search. Too few? Get rid of a term.

  • Keep an informal research log. Include the databases you've searched and the search terms you've used. This will save you time in the long run. If a given search doesn't produce any relevant hits NOW, it won't at 2:00 AM when you're bleary-eyed and the paper is due tomorrow. Also, jot down ALL book information you'll need for your final bibliography. This information includes authors, titles, etc.

  • Organize and synthesize the information you’ve found. "Synthesize" means to absorb the information and put it in your own words. also at this stage you'll want to use your critical thinking abilities to summarize and conclude your paper. If you need more information, do some more searching.

  • Write a rough draft. Sometimes, it helps you organize your thoughts if you write an outline first.

  • Write your bibliography. This should be a piece of cake because you took notes on all the citation information you'd be needing, right?

  • If you get stuck on the last two steps, visit the Learning Assistance Center on the top floor of the Marvin Library for help in writing a research paper.