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How to Start a Paper


Research is NOT a One Way Street it's a Cycle Research Cycle

Choose a Research Question

Brainstorm ideas and formulate a Research Question that is of interest to you and meets your professor's requirements.

Test Research Question

Perform exploratory research using Research Explorer.

Read & Evaluate Sources

  • Read the titles, abstracts and skim the full text (if available)
  • Evaluate if each of the resources is legitimate
  • Think critically about how the information relates to your Research Question
  • Reevaluate and possibly change your search terms to produce more relevant results

Tweak Research Question

You should change your Research Question if:

  • There aren't enough resources (Your job is hard enough.  Why make it harder?)
  • There are too many resources (Your Research Question is too broad.)
  • There is another related topic that is of greater interest to you (You're learning more about your Research Question. Use this knowledge.)
  • You just feel like changing it (Even if the topic has been assigned, there are different ways to frame your Research Question that could produce better results.)

Continue to Tweak your Research Question until you find resources that are:

  • Legitimate
  • Of interest to you
  • Adding up to a significant body of research

Write & Edit Paper

Once you have a solid Research Question and some good research to support it, begin writing your paper and citing the work that you are using as evidence in both the body of the paper and the bibliography.

Return to Research Cycle

During early stages of writing, new avenues of thought may lead you to Reevaluate your topic and Refine your Research Question.

This should bring you back to the Research Cycle to Test these new ideas and Find resources related to the new ideas.