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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.

Write a Bibliography

A bibliography is a list of the sources you used to get information for your report. It is included at the end of your report, on the last page (or last few pages).

You will find it easier to prepare your final bibliography if you keep track of each book, encyclopedia, or article you use as you are reading and taking notes. Start a preliminary, or draft, bibliography by listing on a separate sheet of paper all your sources. Note down the full title, author, place of publication, publisher, and date of publication for each source.

Also, every time a fact gets recorded on a note card, its source should be noted in the top right corner. (Notice that in the sample note card, The World Book, Volume 2, page 21, has been shortened to: WB, 2, p.133.) When you are finished writing your paper, you can use the information on your note cards to double-check your bibliography.

When assembling a final bibliography, list your sources (texts, articles, interviews, and so on) in alphabetical order by authors' last names. Sources that don't have authors (encyclopedias, movies) should be alphabetized by title. There are different formats for bibliographies, so be sure to use the one your teacher prefers.

General Guide to Formatting a Bibliography

For a book:

Author (last name first). Title of the book. City: Publisher, Date of publication.

EXAMPLE:

Dahl, Roald. The BFG. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1982.

For an encyclopedia:

Encyclopedia Title, Edition Date. Volume Number, "Article Title," page numbers.

EXAMPLE:

The Encyclopedia Britannica, 1997. Volume 7, "Gorillas," pp. 50-51.

For a magazine:

Author (last name first), "Article Title." Name of magazine. Volume number, (Date): page numbers.

EXAMPLE:

Jordan, Jennifer, "Filming at the Top of the World." Museum of Science Magazine. Volume 47, No. 1, (Winter 1998): p. 11.

For a newspaper:

Author (last name first), "Article Title." Name of newspaper, city, state of publication. (date): edition if available, section, page number(s).

EXAMPLE:

Powers, Ann, "New Tune for the Material Girl." The New York Times, New York, NY. (3/1/98): Atlantic Region, Section 2, p. 34.

For a person:

Full name (last name first). Occupation. Date of interview.

EXAMPLE:

Smeckleburg, Sweets. Bus driver. April 1, 1996.

For a film:

Title, Director, Distributor, Year.

EXAMPLE:

Braveheart, Dir. Mel Gibson, Icon Productions, 1995

CD-ROM:

Disc title: Version, Date. "Article title," pages if given. Publisher.

EXAMPLE:

Compton's Multimedia Encyclopedia: Macintosh version, 1995. "Civil rights movement," p.3. Compton's Newsmedia.

Magazine article:

Author (last name first). "Article title." Name of magazine (type of medium). Volume number, (Date): page numbers. If available: publisher of medium, version, date of issue.

EXAMPLE:

Rollins, Fred. "Snowboard Madness." Sports Stuff (CD-ROM). Number 15, (February 1997): pp. 15-19. SIRS, Mac version, Winter 1997.

Newspaper article:

Author (last name first). "Article title." Name of newspaper (Type of medium), city and state of publication. (Date): If available: Edition, section and page number(s). If available: publisher of medium, version, date of issue.

EXAMPLE:

Stevenson, Rhoda. "Nerve Sells." Community News (CD-ROM), Nassau, NY. (Feb 1996): pp. A4-5. SIRS, Mac. version, Spring 1996.

Online Resources

Internet:

Author of message, (Date). Subject of message. Electronic conference or bulletin board (Online). Available e-mail: LISTSERV@ e-mail address

EXAMPLE:

Ellen Block, (September 15, 1995). New Winners. Teen Booklist (Online). Helen Smith@wellington.com

World Wide Web:

URL (Uniform Resource Locator or WWW address). author (or item's name, if mentioned), date.

EXAMPLE: (Boston Globe's www address)

http://www.boston.com. Today's News, August 1, 1996.



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