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Writing A Research Paper

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Choose a topic which interests and challenges you. Your attitude towards the topic may well determine the amount of effort and enthusiasm you put into your research.

Focus on a limited aspect, e.g. narrow it down from "Religion" to "World Religion" to "Buddhism". Obtain teacher approval for your topic before embarking on a full-scale research. If you are uncertain as to what is expected of you in completing the assignment or project, re-read your assignment sheet carefully or ASK your teacher.

Select a subject you can manage. Avoid subjects that are too technical, learned, or specialized. Avoid topics that have only a very narrow range of source materials.


Surf the Net.

For general or background information, check out useful URLs, general information online, almanacs or encyclopedias online such as Britannica, or Encarta, etc. Use Search Engines and other search tools as a starting point.

Pay attention to domain name extensions, e.g., .edu (educational institution), .gov (government), or .org (non-profit organization). These sites represent institutions and tend to be more reliable, but be watchful of possible political bias in some government sites. Be selective of .com (commercial) sites. Many .com sites are excellent; however, a large number of them contain advertisements for products and nothing else. Network Solutions provides a link where you can find out what some of the other Extensions stand for. Be wary of the millions of personal home pages on the Net. The quality of these personal homepages vary greatly. Learning how to evaluate Web sites critically and to search effectively on the Internet can help you eliminate irrelevant sites and waste less of your time.

The recent arrival of a variety of domain name extensions such as .biz (commercial businesses), .pro, .info (info on products / organizations), .name, .ws (WebSite), .cc (Cocos Island) or .sh (St. Helena) or .tv (Tuvalu) may create some confusion as you would not be able to tell whether a .cc or .sh or .tv site is in reality a .com, a .edu, a .gov, a .net, or a .org site. Many of the new extensions have no registration restrictions and are available to anyone who wishes to register a distinct domain name that has not already been taken. For instance, if is unavailable, you can register as or via a service agent such as

To find books in the Library use the OPAC (Online Public Access Catalog).

Check out other print materials available in the Library:

Ð'* Almanacs, Atlases, AV Catalogs

Ð'* Encyclopedias and Dictionaries

Ð'* Government Publications, Guides, Reports

Ð'* Magazines, Newspapers

Ð'* Vertical Files

Ð'* Yellow Pages, Zip or Postal Code and Telephone Directories

Check out online resources, Web based information services, or special resource materials on CDs:

Ð'* Online reference materials (including databases, e.g. SIRS, ProQuest, eLibrary, etc.)

Ð'* Wall Street Executive Library

Ð'* Index to Periodicals and Newspapers (e.g.,, etc.)

Ð'* - an online dictionary and encyclopedia all-in-one resource that you can install

on your computer free of charge and find One-Click Answers quickly.

Ð'* Encyclopedias (e.g. Encarta, Britannica, Canadian Encyclopedia, etc.)

Ð'* Magazines and Journals (e.g. Time, Discover, National Geographic, Maclean's, Newsweek, etc.)

Ð'* Newspapers (e.g. Los Angeles Times, New York Times, USA Today, The Toronto Star, Vancouver Sun, etc.)

Ð'* Social Issues

Ð'* Subject Specific software (e.g. Discovering Authors, Exploring Shakespeare, etc.)

Check out Public and University Libraries, businesses, government agencies, as well as contact knowledgeable people in your community.

Read and evaluate. Bookmark your favorite Internet sites. Printout, photocopy, and take notes of relevant information.

As you gather your resources, jot down full bibliographical information (author, title, place of publication, publisher, date of publication, page numbers, URLs, creation or modification dates on Web pages, and your date of access) on your work sheet, printout, or enter the information on your laptop or desktop computer for later retrieval. If printing from the Internet, it is wise to set up the browser to print the URL and date of access for every page. Remember that an article without bibliographical information is useless since you cannot cite its source.


Do some critical thinking and write your thesis statement down in one sentence. Your thesis statement is like a declaration of your belief. The main portion of your essay will consist of arguments to support and defend this belief.


All points must relate to the same major topic that you first mentioned in your capital Roman numeral.

Example of an outline:

I. INTRODUCTION - (Brief comment leading into subject matter -

Thesis statement on Shakespeare)

II. BODY - Shakespeare's Early Life, Marriage, Works, Later Years

A. Early life in Stratford

1. Shakespeare's family

a. Shakespeare's father

b. Shakespeare's mother

2. Shakespeare's



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