How to build a research paper

The basic steps in order:

  • Pick a topic. (Make sure it fits the assignment and, if possible, interests you)
  • Preliminary research – Read three lengthy articles (3000 words or more) from respected sources on the topic. As you read, jot down the main ideas from each article.
  • Write a preliminary outline based on what you learned from the articles:

Thesis: Methamphetamines present a huge challenge for the United States.
Supporting Point 1. Methamphetamines are highly addictive.
Supporting Point 2. Methamphetamines present special challenges to law enforcement.
Supporting Point 3. Methamphetamines ruin the lives of those who take them.
Supporting Point 4. Methamphetamine abuse started in the Northwest, and then quickly spread across the country.
Supporting Point 5. Methamphetamine abuse costs society an enormous amount of money.

  • Research – Find evidence: stories (detailed examples), statistics, and expert testimony from respected sources that illustrate/prove/support each point. (IMPORTANT – Don’t hesitate to change the points in the outline to fit the evidence you find.)
  • As you research, create a  References page to keep track of each source you used, and keep the entries in alphabetical order based on the first word.
  • Write – Once you have six or seven good pieces of evidence for each point, write a paragraph (starting with each point) that explains the evidence you found for that point. This is the hard part. You must explain the evidence you’ve found, and how it proves your point, in a way that your reader understands easily. Paraphrase the evidence 90% of the time. Quote the source only in rare instances when the source says something you just can’t top. Be sure to cite the sources correctly using Purdue OWL as your guide.
  • Arrange the points in a logical order and connect them with transitions.
  • Write an introduction and conclusion.
  • Proofread and correct – Are all your sentences correct, clear and concise? Will the reader easily understand your points and evidence, and how they connect? Make changes to assure that everything is crystal clear.