- By Daniel Millions
- Published 11/19/2008
Every single person who enters nearly any educational system around the world is required to do research reports in at least one of their classes. Research papers can start being assigned in the third grade, and the requirements for them become stricter as one ages. While most people dread the thought of having to do research, if the process is taken in steps and done slowly, it really is not too bad. The first step with any assignment is to identify the topic you are tackling. This is usually easy to do, as the topic is whatever you have been assigned. If you have to pick a topic yourself, you have a lot more freedom to do something you would enjoy, so take your time in deciding what to research. You will be spending a fair amount of time on this, and if the subject bores you, it becomes all the harder. After determining what your topic is, you need to find sources you can use to make claims. For example, if your research paper is on global warming, you could find books in the subject that support, refute, and describe the phenomenon. The Internet also holds a wide variety of resources, but because the Internet is completely open source, you need to be careful about what sources you use. You need to make sure that your sources are valid, and this can be determined quickly if the website is governmental or educational (just look for .gov or .edu as the domain extension). Your school or university also likely provides databases to use.
These are guaranteed to be accur
ate, and they are packed with information that is hard to find in other places. In fact, you can often find all the information you need from databases. Normally, to get access to these resources, you would need to pay money, but since the school does it for you, it is wise to take advantage of this opportunity. Once you have gathered all of your sources, it is time to do the actual research. You can continue finding new resources, though, even up to the point where you are writing your paper. When doing research, it is best to write down everything on note cards, along with information in the corners that states where you found the information. Eventually you will need to parenthetically cite your sources, and writing this information down beforehand saves you a lot of trouble. Therefore, along with the content itself, write down the source and, if the source is a book, the page number. Next, you can either go on to writing your research paper or, as many people prefer, do an outline. This is an informal document that charts what you will write and where, and after completion, you just need to roughly follow it to complete your paper. It makes writing a lot easier, faster, and allows you to organize your thoughts before you start composing.
The structure of a research paper is fairly universal throughout all schools. The font should be Times New Roman, twelve point font, double spaced, with one inch margins. Spelling and grammar should ideally be perfect, and can be with the proper editing. As long as you follow the rules and take your time, your research paper is bound to receive a high grade.