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Five Tips for Writing a Research Paper

  1. Know what you are writing about.  It is possible to misunderstand the question your instructor is asking you to answer in your paper.   That makes it extremely important to clarify the requirements if you feel uncertain.
  2. Be organized! There are many ways to organize writing a paper and everyone has a different method.   Whatever your method is, use it!   It is also best to find a quiet spot to work in, free of outside distractions and noises. If you can’t find a spot at home, there is always the library!
  3. Use the library! If you ever get stuck or need help with your research, do not hesitate to look for help in the library.   Not only do the librarians know what is available, they can also help you figure out the best way to do your research. The library’s webpage has a research help page with advice on how to read academic articles, how to evaluate websites, how to cite using MLA and APA formats, and how to avoid plagiarizing.   It also provides Subject Guides to help give an overview of what resources are available for certain subjects.
  4. Use different resources. Papers don’t have to be written using only information from books. There are many other resources for information out there, and the Savannah Tech library provides many of them for you.
    • Scholarly Journals
    • Encyclopedias
    • Videos (VHS & DVD)
    • Audio (Cassette Tapes & CDs)
    • eBooks
    • Newspapers
    • …and more!
  5. Think outside the box! Research can be like a scavenger hunt.   It is very rare that you will find a resource solely on the topic you have been assigned or chosen for class.   Sometimes you will have to come up with imaginative ways to conduct your research.   For example, let’s say you are looking for some information on the Nixon-Kennedy televised debate of 1960. Chances are you will not find a book or journal article that is completely about that particular subject.   This is where you get creative.   You take what you know about the subject without any research: Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy were both presidents; there was a debate between them in the year 1960; the debate was on television. Once you have conducted a search using what you know about the topic, you will receive a lot of results, both books and journal articles.   This is the part where you start narrowing your search down.