Introduction to Research Writing

Contributor: Jodi Powell. Lesson ID: 11704

If you're a pirate searching for hidden treasure, do you look in a dumpster? When you're hungry, do you look in the fridge or the compost pile? Same is true of research: look where the good stuff is!



English / Language Arts
learning style
personality style
Grade Level
High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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  • Is writing an activity you find relaxing and therapeutic?
  • Or do you find writing overwhelming and challenging?
  • Why do you think you feel this way about writing?

Regardless of in which category you find yourself, after learning a few tips and tricks, writing a research paper can be a manageable task for every writer!

  • Have you ever written a research paper?
  • How confident would you feel if you were asked to write one right now?

Begin by completing the survey, Introduction to Research Writing, found in Downloadable Resources in the right-hand sidebar.

Question #6 asked you to list the steps to writing a research paper. Compare your answer to the list below.

Steps to writing a research paper:

  1. Understand the available resources.
  2. Select a topic.
  3. Conduct preliminary research and begin writing source cards.
  4. Formulate a thesis statement.
  5. Make a preliminary outline.
  6. Take notes.
  7. Prepare to write.
  8. Write the rough draft.
  9. Revise and proofread.
  10. Prepare the works cited page.

This list may seem long and unmanageable, but when taken one-step-at-a-time, it becomes a challenge you are capable of conquering. So, you'll do just that.

Begin with Step 1: understanding the available resources.

  • Where would you first go to find information for a research paper?

In this day and age, the internet is typically the first place to look, but don't forget that there are other very useful resources out there as well. The big three with reference to resources (no pun intended) are (1) print resources, (2) non-print resources, and (3) electronic resources.

Print Resources

If you have never ventured to your local library, now may be a good time to start! The library is full of many great resources that can serve you well while writing a research paper.

When you get to the library, find the computers and search through the online card catalog. This will show you everything in the library pertaining to the topic. In addition to regular books, the library will have helpful reference books as well, such as encyclopedias, almanacs, magazines, and atlases.

Don't be afraid to ask the librarian for help during your search.

Non-Print Resources

Videos, films, DVDs, CDs, audiotapes, slides, photographs, and artwork are all resources that can be used in a research paper. These resources can typically be found at the library as well. Sometimes, videos can be found online, or ordered to use for your project as well.

You may also conduct an interview with an expert or an eye witness of a particular topic to use as a resource as well.

Electronic Resources

Internet databases are full of more information than we could ever process; however, it is important to remember that not everything on the internet is reliable information that can be used for a research project.

It is typically recommended to only use websites ending in .org, .edu, or .gov. Depending on the purpose of the research, there can sometimes be exceptions to this rule, but this guideline is generally followed by all.

While search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo are often useful, more scholarly search engines are particularly helpful as well. Google Scholar is a search engine that will provide only reliable and peer-reviewed resources.

The library will be particularly helpful for your electronic search. Libraries typically have subscriptions to search engines that cannot be reached by the general public, such as ProQuest, CQ Researcher, and EBSCO, among many others.

These databases provide scholarly information that cannot be found elsewhere. They can be used like a typical search engine in which you type in your topic. Again, the librarian will be helpful for answering any questions you have about navigating through these resources.

Libraries also have access to subscription encyclopedias that will provide information you cannot locate on your own internet search from home.

When exploring the internet, online databases, and the bookcases in the library, you will come across tons of information.

Next, in the Got It? section, you'll learn about and apply some helpful steps for choosing the best resources.

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