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How to Write a Research Paper

Selecting a topic

Choose a topic that interests you and will hold your attention. If you do, the research will be more enjoyable!


The first step fo the research process is to know the assignment and what guidelines/requirements the professor has given. Take note of the following:

  • Topic: Have you been assigned a topic for you to write about or can you choose a subject of interest to you, which fits into the guidelines of the assignment. 
  • Type of research: What type of research is needed? Do you need original research (such as survey or experiment) or are you able to use secondary research (such as research published in books/journal articles)?
  • Scope: Do you need to analyze a topic from different viewpoints or do you need to take one position and defend it?
  • Sources: Are you required to use a certain number and/or type of resources in your research?
  • Citation Style: Has the professor, specified a citation style for you to use in citing your sources? If not, which style is appropriate for your subject?
  • Format/Length: Is there a page limit for the completed assignment? Has formatting guidelines, such as line spacing, numbering, or font size been given?
  • Due date: When in your paper due?