The goal of a research paper is not to inform the reader what others have to say about a topic

When a research paper is assigned to you it is not just to get your views on the subject. While that point actually may be required in the subject your views also need to be able to be backed up by credible sources. In other words, you need to be able to defend your views.

Good Research

The easiest and best way to accomplish this is with good research. That does not mean going to the library and getting a 100 year old book to back up your theory. This means that any book that you use for research should be current or at least printed within the last 10 years. While this should not have to be said, I will say it anyway…no books of fiction! Biographies are good tools as are encyclopedias and history books. Anatomy books or whatever the subject is that you are researching.

If you are going to use web sites for your research Wikipedia is generally forbidden. This is because anyone can write a Wikipedia page and fill it with whatever they want to. This is not a fair and unbiased source.

For web site research you should stick to sites that have addresses ending with .gov or .edu. These types of sites are generally fair and unbiased as well as being full of useful information.

You should also look for information that goes against your views so that you can defend your theory against this information in your paper.

Format it

Once you have found all of the materials and information you need format it in a way that is clear, concise and easy to read. State your theory or thesis in the first paragraph and expound on it through the rest of the paper. When you finish restate your theory in the conclusion of the paper to sum it all up.


Always, ALWAYS remember to cite your references. This cannot be stated often enough. It is so important that you do this for a couple of reasons. First, you should always give credit where credit is due. To turn in research that was just copied from somewhere else is not just unfair to the original writer, it is a crime. This is plagiarism and it can cost you your academic career. It can also land you in jail. Always remember to cite your references properly and completely without skipping a single one.

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