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College Research

Learn the methods and tools for conducting college level research.

Getting Started

The process of researching and writing your paper can be broken down into the following steps:

  1. Pick a topic
  2. Ask a research question
  3. Find and read research about your topic - evidence, perspectives, interpretations, data, etc.
                ► take notes as you read, and use what you learn to find more research
                ► evaluate the sources you read carefully
  4. Write your thesis statement - the answer to your research question.

The following pages in this guide will help you with these steps.

What is a Research Paper?

Writing a research paper can be challenging. So it may be helpful to first understand what a research paper is and what it is not.

A research paper is NOT

  • a mix of other people's ideas
  • an analysis of other people's writing or work
  • a mix of quotes from other sources
  • a way for you to prove what you already think is true

A research paper IS

  • a way for you to develop your own ideas with evidence
  • an opportunity to challenge your own beliefs
  • one of the best ways to learn deeply about a topic that interests you

What is Research?

College research might be different from other types of writing you've done before, such as writing your opinion or simply reporting facts. Research can be defined as

  • the investigation into and study of
  • materials and sources
  • in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions.

Watch the video below to better understand the process of research and to avoid common mistakes some students make when writing their research paper.