This guide is designed to help you through the process of writing a research paper.
This is a general guide, so and may vary from your classroom assignments. As always, refer to your professor and syllabus for your project requirements.
As you engage in the research process, you will encounter the following major components.
Though the order may differ from what's listed below, these are vital pieces of conducting sound research.
Consider these questions:
These questions may generate ideas. Next brainstorm. Which topics are most worthy of your time? Why is your topic significant? What angle might you take to fulfill the requirement: informative, persuasive, etc. Consider making your topic specific. For example:
What are the unique benefits of art therapy?
Avoid over-done topics. When you are narrowing your topic choices, try to choose something fresh and interesting.
Write out your research question or thesis statement. Underline words that you believe best represent the main ideas.
What are the benefits of art therapy?
Second, create a list of synonyms for each word you underlined and use these terms to search for resources.
help OR improvements
painting OR drawing
You can add additional terms as you survey what is available:
help OR improvements AND painting therapy
painting or sculpting or drawing
As you gather resources be sure to evaluate the resources!
Check out the Searching Strategies for Websites and Databases for more tips.
Check out the Evaluating Resources page to avoid choosing bad sources for your projects!
Once you have gathered a variety of sources, begin to synthesize what you have found. Look them over and determine how they fit together and relate to your topic.
There are many reasons to provide references to the sources that you use:
Your audience may want to know how to investigate your topic further. By providing your resources you are helping others who are interested in the same topic. Also, you want to give proper credit and attribution to published researchers or writers. Plagiarism is a serious offense.
Here is a definition of plagiarism:
Plagiarism is appropriating someone else's words or ideas without acknowledgment. To understand plagiarism we must consider two questions: (1) How is plagiarism like or unlike theft— (2) Why is plagiarism considered wrong; why should we acknowledge the originator of an idea. (Encyclopedia of Ethics. London: Routledge, 2001. Credo Reference. 17 April 2009 <http://www.credoreference.com/entry/7915618>.)
College writing and oral presentations should provide your audience with verbal cues to the information you have used: the SOURCE where you found your information. (This might be an interview, scholarly article, book,or website, etc.); the AUTHOR, when available, and the DATE when your source was published or accessed (for web sources and interviews).
For helps in citing properly you may wish to visit OWL Purdue Online Writing Lab