Homework CenterWriting Skills
[Home] Homework Center

How to Write a Research Paper

Research Papers


  1. Establish your topic.
  2. Look for sources of information.
  3. Read your sources and take notes.
  4. Organize your ideas.
  5. Write a first draft.
  6. Use footnotes or endnotes to document sources.
  7. Write a bibliography.
  8. Revise the first draft.
  9. Proofread the final draft.

Read Your Sources and Take Notes

After you've gathered your sources, begin reading and taking notes.

  1. Use 3 x 5 index cards, one fact or idea per card. This way related ideas from different sources can be easily grouped together or rearranged.
  2. On each index card, be sure to note the source, including the volume number (if there is one) and the page number. If you wind up using that idea in your paper, you will have the information about the source ready to put in your footnote or endnote.
  3. If you copy something directly from a book without putting it in your own words, put quotation marks around it so that you know it is an exact quotation. This will help you to avoid plagiarism. (For more, see What is Plagiarism?).
  4. Before you sit down to write your rough draft, organize your note cards by subtopic (you can write headings on the cards) and make an outline.

Check out the differences between these two note cards for a research paper on baseball:

Good note card:

WB, 2, p.133

Star players become national heroes

Many Americans could name every major league player, his batting average, and other accomplishments.

(What batting records were set?)

  • Lists source (World Book, Volume 2, page 133)
  • Includes heading or subtopic
  • Is limited to one fact
  • Has personal note/question

Bad note card:

Baseball becomes popular

Ty Cobb (Detroit Tigers) outfielder one of the great all-time players. Another star was Honus Wagner, a bowlegged shortstop.

"Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball."

  • Source not indicated in top right corner
  • Heading too vague
  • Too many facts
  • No name after quotation


Homework Center Home »

highlights

10 Nut-Free Lunch Ideas
Packing nut-free school lunches can be tricky! If your child has a nut allergy or his school has banned peanut butter, try these tasty and safe nut-free lunches.

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, and create reading lists for kids!

Top 12 Fundraising Ideas
Need some new ideas for raising big money for your child’s school or team? Check out the best school fundraisers, suggested and reviewed by parents like you!

Ready for Kindergarten?
Try our award-winning Kindergarten Readiness app! This easy-to-use checklist comes with games and activities to help your child build essential skills for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks