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LaChance Library home Mount Wachusett Community College

Research Basics

Research Papers Step by Step

1. Be sure you understand exactly what is required. Read the assignment thoroughly and ask questions to clarify.

2. Choose a topic. (See DEVELOPING A RESEARCH TOPIC video on this page)

3. Read, read, read to become familiar with the topic. Get background information first! Use the WHERE CAN I FIND THE INFORMATION I NEED? chart to determine where to look for what you need.

4. Narrow your topic to fit within the scope of the assignment. Try the CREDO MIND MAP to help focus your topic. 

Credo Logo

A visual representation of how topics are related with links to reference book articles.

5. Ask a question that will guide your research. RESEARCH QUESTION clearly presents what you want to discover about your topic. The answer to your research question becomes your THESIS STATEMENT.

6. Identify key concepts to use in searching for sources (See DEVELOPING AN EFFECTIVE SEARCH STRATEGY video on this page). Use the library's RESEARCH HELP GUIDES to find the best information for your research.

7. Develop a thesis statement.

8. Create a working bibliography.

9. Take notes! (See the NOTETAKING video on this page)

10. Make an outline. After you create your thesis statement on THESIS BUILDER, use their BUILD AN OUTLINE link to get a blueprint for exactly how to write YOUR research paper.

11. Write the rough draft (See PUTTING YOUR INFORMATION ALL TOGETHER video on this page).

12. Edit the paper. Reading the paper out loud to yourself will help you find mistakes.

13. Write the final draft.

14. Check to make sure you have satisfied ALL the requirements of the assignment. Consider asking a writing tutor in the Academic Support Center to look at your paper.

Research Companion

What's the difference between a report and a research paper?

Image comparing research paper with report

Broaden or Narrow a Topic

Writing an Argument Paper or Persuasive Essay

Developing a Research Topic

Developing an Effective Search Strategy

Putting Your Information All Together


Please CONTACT US if you have questions.