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Writing Research Papers

Tip 1. Pick an Interesting/Good Topic
A good paper begins with a good topic. Choose one that interests you.

Tip 2. How to Search for Information
Determine what type of information you will need and start looking. Good places to go to search for information: the library (both on campus and your local public library); the internet; and databases. Good sources to include in your paper: encyclopedias, dictionaries, almanacs, books of facts, news magazines, professional journals, newspapers pamphlets and government reports. Make copies of your information and highlight what you feel may be useful. Get information on your topic regarding who, what, where, when, why, and how. Have all of your information gathered before you begin to write your paper. When you collect information, remember to record and keep a bibliography.

Tip 3. Form a Solid Thesis Statement
Before you can begin to write your paper you need to have a thesis statement. The thesis statement is the main idea of your paper. A good thesis statement should contain both the topic and your position or opinion (whether you are for it or against it.) This statement should be one sentence.

Tip 4. How to Get Organized
Make a scratch outline. Start with an introduction. Then decide what you want to tell your audience first. What comes next? Continue to build from here. Just number each group of information and end with a conclusion.

Note your bibliographic information: Author / Title of the book or article or source / City of Publication / Name of Publisher / Edition number, volume number / Date of publication or update / Page numbers / URL (if an electronic source) / Date of access (if an electronic source) / Any other publication information that seems important.

Underline key words or points in your notes so that they grab your attention when you are ready to write the actual paper. Be sure to write notes in your own words. This will help ensure that you understand what you are reading. Use your outline as a guide. Also make your notations concise, yet detailed enough to provide an accurate meaning. Always write in ink. Notes written in pencil will become blurred through handling.

Tip 5. Writing the First Draft, Revising, Proofreading and Printing
You will want to get all your information down in the order you want. For the first draft, just worry about including everything that needs to be said to start with, as best you can, in the order you planned.

Your revision should concentrate on content and writing style. Try to follow the format requirements given.

When you've finished your revisions, check for spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc. Use a spell and grammar check. Be sure to proofread your paper closely (spell checkers won't catch some errors, such as 'far' instead of 'for'). Check everything one last time, and print your finished paper.

Understand that plagiarism is a form of stealing intellectual property. Be sure to cite the reference and give credit to appropriate authors, researchers, and personnel.
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