Writing a Research Paper
Trocaire College Libraries
For more in-depth information on writing a research paper, pick up a copy of:
"How to Write a Research Paper: A Step-by-Step Guide" at the library.
Understand Your Assignment
One of the first problems in completing a research paper, students often don’t understand the assignment and what the instructor wants. Understanding the terms used in the assignment is the first step.
Is the instructor asking for peer-reviewed scholarly articles?
To understand what your instructor is asking for, check out the library’s guide “Library Terms”, ask your instructor or ask a librarian! Other questions should be:
· When is the paper due?
· How long should the paper be?
· What types of sources are needed? How many do you need?
· What kind of paper is the instructor assigning– Informative, persuasive, analytical, literature review?
· What writing style is needed? APA? MLA?
· Is there anything else? Does the instructor want to see printouts of the sources used?
· Who do you ask for help in writing the paper? The Instructor? The Librarians? The Palisano Center?
It is important to pace yourself with this paper and other assignments throughout the semester. Visit the library’s web site , library.trocaire.edu, and select “Student Services”, click on the “Research Calculator” link in the second paragraph. This calculator will generate a list of research paper steps by date and will e-mail you reminders.
Remember the link: Research Calculator that keeps you on track by sending you e-mail reminders that let you know where you should be in the research process.
Know your Topic
The library has Credo Reference and Encyclopedia Britannica Online Academic Edition to get you started. If you don't find what you are looking for, ask a librarian.
Write a Thesis
Plan an Outline
Plan how you are going to present the information in your paper. An Outline usually consists of:
Introduction: This will include your thesis statement, some background information and some fact , quote or information to get the reader interested and to continue to read the paper.
Body: This moves the paper along to the conclusion. It consists of:
- Main idea of your thesis
Evidence- to support the thesis. This evidence could consist of quotes, paraphrasing, facts. statistics, charts, images, your own experiences, etc.
- Analysis- is where you discuss the evidence and how it ties back to your main idea.
Conclusion: Can either: summarize your argument and /or explain the significance of your argument- "Why your argument matters".
Take Effective Notes
Make sure that you distinguish your own ideas from the information in the sources.
Keep all your notes and copies of the sources together in order to reference them quickly, if needed.
Ready to Write the Paper
Writing Style Guides
Once you download the template of your choice, save it to your H drive or your USB or send it to yourself as an attachment in an e-mail.
At the Citation Help page, you can access the APA or MLA Style Guides and Purdue OWL and Citation Fox.
A Word about Plagiarism
One of the main reasons that you should take the steps mentioned above in writing your paper is to avoid plagiarism! If you keep a good record of your sources (quotes, paraphrasing, page number, etc.) you should have no problems when it comes to being "academically honest" in your work.
So, what is Plagiarism?
It's taking someone's ideas or work and passing it off as your own, original thought. It gives the impression that it is all your ideas when it really is stealing others "intellectual property". Basically, it is fraud, theft, dishonest and downright wrong!
You can expect to receive a failing grade for the assignment or for the class. Even worse, you can be expelled from your school. So, don't do it. Follow the steps listed above and below to avoid this from happening to you!
Check out Plagiarism.org. for more information.
A Word about Citing, Quoting, Paraphrasing and Summarizing
Citing: Always cite your sources in the text of your paper. This is called an "in-text citation". If you are not sure if you should cite it, cite it.
Quotations: Use these sparingly. Carefully selected quotes can support your arguments, but will not add to the quality of your own work.
Paraphrasing: This is a detailed restatement of information in your own words that came from a source other than your own experience. To paraphrase effectively you will need to:
- Read the information until you understand the full meaning
- Set the original information aside
- Think about what you just read
- Then write it in your own words
- Make sure your version reflects the meaning of the original source
- Simply changing a few words and keeping the same original structure is considered plagiarism
- You must honestly and truly put the information into your own words
Summarizing: This involves putting the MAIN IDEAS into your own words. This is usually VERY SHORT and not as involved as paraphrasing.
In the Home Stretch
Make sure that your citations, quotes, paraphrasing, summarizing and your reference page is correct.
If you need help in any of the steps, please contact a librarian.
Cindy Seitz, MLS
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