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Intro to Research Paper

What is a research paper?
by

Ray Palin

on 26 August 2014

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Transcript of Intro to Research Paper

The Research Paper
What is it?
It's a position paper on a topic
that you've investigated and know
a lot about. Ideally, your position
makes a new and interesting claim. This would be something not found in a textbook or on a website. It would be a claim resulting from piecing together findings from various information sources.
How to choose a topic?
Choose what you're most interested in. What part of your courses have you most enjoyed? Was there an event or person or idea that you became curious about?
Step 1 in topic development
First, do some background reading on the broad topic. Once you know something, you'll be in a better position to choose an aspect of the topic that you could genuinely and thoroughly investigate, and ultimately take a position on.
An example of topic development
(1) Maybe you want to research the American Revolution.
(2) After doing background reading, maybe you want to specifically look at the causes of the Revolution.
(3) Perhaps you realize that, while there were many causes, no where can you find that one cause is considered more important than others.

Step 2: create focus questions
Once you have a topic and you know
what you're going to investigate,
you need to create specific focus
questions to guide your research.
After you know what your position
will be, finalize a thesis statement
and complete an outline of your paper.
Finalize your thesis statement
Next: Do Deep Research
Read specialized books and articles that drill down into specifics. Take notes on Focus Question Info Sheets and develop
research findings that answer your questions.
For example
If your research paper’s goal is to identify and explain the most important cause of the American Revolution, then the following focus questions might be researched:

#1 Which British economic policy caused the greatest hardship for colonial Americans?
#2 Which British political policy caused the most wide-spread outrage among colonial Americans?
#3 What other things, such as European Enlightenment ideas, made revolution likely?
For example ...
Some examples from U.S. History ...
Why didn't more slaves revolt?
Which president was most imperialist?
What was the most important cause of the American Revolution?
A real investigation
Research papers attempt to answer real questions. Real questions pass the "so what?" test.
So what?
I'd like to do my paper on slavery.


So What?
I'd like to do my paper on slavery and on how hard it was to be a slave. ... You know, what life was like.
That's more like it!
I'd like to know if conditions on some types of plantations were worse than other plantations, and if so, why?
Final step: Start writing
For a refresher on writing, or any part of the research paper process, visit the Research Paper steps page of the library website.
Full transcript