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Research Basics: Home

Research Papers Step by Step

  • Be sure you understand exactly what is required. You have no chance of success without this! What's the difference between a report and a research paper?
  • Choose a topic (See DEVELOPING A RESEARCH TOPIC video on this page)
  • Read, read, read to become familiar with the topic. Books and general reference works, both print and online, are good places to find the background information you need. Use this WHERE CAN I FIND THE INFORMATION I NEED? chart to determine where to look for what you need.
  • Narrow your topic to fit within the scope of the assignment. Try the CREDO REFERENCE MIND MAP to help focus your topic. 
  • Ask a question that will guide your research. A RESEARCH QUESTION clearly presents what you want to discover about your topic. The answer to your research question becomes your THESIS STATEMENT.
  • Identify key concepts to use in searching for sources (See DEVELOPING AN EFFECTIVE SEARCH STRATEGY video on this page). Use the information in the box below to FIND THE BEST INFORMATION FOR YOUR RESEARCH.
  • Develop a thesis statement
  • Create a preliminary bibliography. EASYBIB is a great tool to use for this.
  • Take notes. Here is a tutorial on USING EASYBIB TO TAKE NOTES.
  • Make an outline. After you create your thesis statement on THESIS BUILDER, use their BUILD AN OUTLINE link to get a blueprint for exactly how to write YOUR research paper.
  • Write the rough draft (See PUTTING YOUR INFORMATION ALL TOGETHER video on this page).
  • Edit the paper
  • Write the final draft
  • Check to make sure you have satisfied ALL the requirements of the assignment. Consider asking a writing tutor in the Academic Support Center to look at your paper.

What's the difference between a report and a research paper?

Research vs. Report

Interactive Research Tutorial

RESEARCH GAME

Developing a Research Topic

Developing an Effective Search Strategy

Putting Your Information All Together

Writing an Argument Paper or Persuasive Essay

PLEASE CONTACT US IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS

At the Research Help Desk, during regular LIBRARY HOURS
Telephone: 1-888-884-6922 (toll free) Email: library@mwcc.mass.edu (account is checked at least daily at 8 am)
LIVE CHAT ASSISTANCE is available during regular LIBRARY HOURS.