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How to Write a Research Paper

Choosing Your Topic

  • Choose a topic you are interested in, and can find information about.
  • Your opinion of the topic might change as you conduct your research and find out more about the subject.
  • Choose a topic that is not too broad or too narrow. The first will be hard to keep focused and the second might be hard to find information about.

Rethinking Your Topic

You may discover that you’re looking for information by search terms which are not the most effective. Databases use search terminology called Subject Terms. Find these descriptive words to help with your search. For example: "death penalty" is often classified as "capital punishment."

Write all of those search terms down to keep track of them. These terms might give you new ways of thinking about your topic.. Maybe come up with a question or two for things you’re curious about. Those questions will help you focus your paper.

Narrowing Your Topic

After you have found some information, try to narrow your topic. If your topic is too broad, it will be hard to keep a focus in your paper and the information range will be too large. Adjust your topic to a topic field that is specific enough to research without having large amounts of articles, but still general enough to have some relevant information sources.

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