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Writing Guide

Research Papers

Research Papers

  • Writing research papers give you the opportunity to take a deeper dive into a topic while relying on credible sources for information.  This process also hones the skills that so many employers find valuable like researching for information, applying the information and prioritizing and organizing information, and more.
  • Breaking the process down into steps will make it more manageable.
  • There are tools to help make researching easier (see each step above for resources). Here are some starters:

Watch the short video below for instructions on how to navigate the Research Papers page:

Step 1: Choose the template for your research paper

  • For a research paper, you'll use the APA Word Template.
  • The format will remain the same (caps, indents, spacing), you'll just insert your own information and click on Save As.
  • Name your document this way: Jstudent_Title_101504
    • Organizing files:
      • Quarter > Course Name > Module > JStudent_exampleproblem_101504
      • Example: Spring 2015 > Eng Comp > Module 3 > JDoe_Discovery and Planning_041515

Setting up a research plan

  • A research plan can help you get organized and stay on track.  

Step 2: Choosing a topic

Step 3: Writing a thesis/introduction

  • A thesis statement clearly identifies the topic being discussed, it should only cover what is being discussed in the paper, and is written for a specific audience.
  • Your thesis statement belongs at the end of your first paragraph, also known as your introduction.
    • Use it to generate interest in your topic and encourage your audience to continue reading.
  • Here are some resources to help you write your introduction and thesis: 

Watch the short videos below for information on writing an introduction and writing thesis statements. 

Step 4: Creating an outline

  • Outline: You have the information you need to write your paper.  Take the bullet points with the information underneath and paste it into the APA template format you've already downloaded and saved. 
  • Start with the main points
    • You'll build your paragraphs around the main points.
      • Generally there is one main idea per paragraph.
    • Fill in details to support each main idea.
      • These will also be the bulleted elements from the beginning when you set the assignment up.
  • Mind Maps and Graphic Organizers may help you with this process.  

Watch the short video below for information on creating an outline in Microsoft Word 2013.

Step 5: Researching

Think of a time when you wanted to know more about a topic (e.g. The best oil to use in your car).  You probably went on the internet and looked things up in a search engine like Google.  You used search terms (oil for car, synthetic oil better?, 30w oil for car?, etc.) and then sorted through the sites that came up to find the ones that were most applicable and 'legit'.  This is actually the same process you will do for researching for your paper, you'll just do it with a few differences.  We've made it easier for you because we have provided databases where you can find credible sources with the information you'll need.

Researching is simply finding the information that will make your paper credible.  When you research, you are finding information.

Here are some things to help you navigate through the research process.

Need help with the process?

Step 6: Build the paper: your rough draft

Now that you have the information you need to write your paper, you'll start your rough draft.  You can take the information from your outline and place it into your APA formatted paper that you've already downloaded and saved. Your outline will show you what your paragraphs will contain.  Your paper will consist of: a


Remember that writing is a process.  If you get stuck as you go, utilize your resources:

  • APA Guide for help with formatting, citations, and reference page.
  • Grammarly for help with spelling, grammar, mechanics, and when you may need to cite something (plagiarism check).
  • Submit to Writing Lab to have your paper reviewed by a tutor.
    • Scroll down to see Drop Box & Rubric for Writing Submission below.
  • Work with a tutor.  Make an appointment with a tutor in Tutor Match.  
    • See the Tutoring Resources box at bottom left. Click on the Tutor Match tab.
  • Utilize Learning Express for writing assistance. 
  • NoodleTools for help with creating in-text citations and reference pages.
  • Watch a webinar (multiple topics).
  • View the English Composition Guide for helpful resources. 

Watch the short video below for information on APA formatting.

Step 7: Creating a reference page 

The reference page will be at the end of your paper and it will list all of the sources you used.  Each in-text citation in your paper should connect to a source on the reference page.  Think of it this way, anyone who reads your paper should be able to look up the information you have in your paper.

The APA Guide has a page on creating references complete with examples for each type of resource you may encounter while researching.

To find an example of what a reference page looks like, view the APA 6th Edition Sample Paper  

Step 8: Review the paper

  • Double check that the assignment's required elements (bulleted from earlier) are all in your paper.
  • Use the Rubric in the box below to self-assess your assignment.
    • This is the same rubric the Writing Lab staff will use as a guideline for your written work.  Use the rubric to 'score' your own paper.  You'll see helpful resources right there for you to make any changes before you submit it to the Writing Lab.  See the bottom box for complete information about the Rubric and how to use it. 
  • You're almost finished!  Now that you're getting close to finishing your paper, you can choose to have someone else provide feedback on it before you submit it to your instructor.
    • Submit it to the Writing Lab for review. Follow the these user-friendly instructions. Feedback will be provided to you within 24-48 hours.  The feedback will be based on this rubric and will also provide specific next steps based on what is needed to improve the paper.
    • Submit it to Grammarly for review. Grammarly is an automated software that checks for grammar, mechanics, spelling, word usage, and even plagiarism. Click here to learn more. 

Watch the short video below for information on revising your paper.

Step 9: Write the final draft

Now that you've received feedback about your paper, it's time to take that feedback and write your final draft. Double check that the assignment's required elements (bulleted from earlier) are all in your paper.

Remember that writing is a process.  If you get stuck as you go, reach out for resources.

  • APA Guide for help with formatting, citations, and reference page.
  • Grammarly for help with spelling, grammar, mechanics, and when you may need to cite something (plagiarism check).
  • Submit to Writing Lab to have your paper reviewed by a tutor.
    • Scroll down to see Drop Box & Rubric for Writing Submission below.
  • Work with a tutor.  Make an appointment with a tutor in Tutor Match.  
    • See the Tutoring Resources box at bottom left. Click on the Tutor Match tab.
  • NoodleTools for help with creating in-text citations and reference pages.
  • Watch a webinar (multiple topics).
  • View the English Composition Guide for helpful resources. 

If you would like feedback on your final draft, you can utilize the Writing Lab:

  • Start by looking at the rubric in the Rubric & Paper Review box below. This is the same rubric the Writing Lab staff will use as a guideline for your written work.  Use the rubric to 'score' your own paper.  You'll see helpful resources right there for you to make any changes before you submit it to the Writing Lab.  See the bottom box for complete information about the Rubric and how to use it. 
  • Submit it to the Writing Lab for review. Follow the these user-friendly instructions. Feedback will be provided to you within 24-48 hours.  The feedback will be based on this rubric and will also provide specific next steps based on what is needed to improve the paper.

Step 10: Submit your paper

  • Submit your finished paper to the instructor using the drop box.
    • Click on the Attachments button. A new "Attachments" window will open.
    • Click on the Browse button. A new window will open, directing you to locate the assignment on your computer.
    • When you have located the assignment file on your computer, select it and click the Open button in the window. The filename will then appear in the File to Upload field.
    • Type the title of your assignment in the Title box. The title should be your first initial and last name (i.e. JDoe.doc).
    • Leave the File Type drop-down box set to Auto-detect .
    • Click the Upload File button.
    • A message will appear stating that your file upload was successful. Click the OK button.
    • A new screen will appear showing your attached assignment and the date and time submitted.
  • Review the instructor's feedback after grading.  You will see your writing improve over time.
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Resources for Research Papers

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Paper Review (Brainfuse Writing Lab)

The Writing Lab Rubric

Use this rubric as a first step to self-assess your assignment.  After determining which column you think best describes your work, use the resources to the right to improve your work.  Refer back to it each time you feel you are near completion of the assignment to help you stay on track.  This is also the same rubric that the Writing Lab staff will use to provide feedback and resources suggestions.

Video: How to use the Rubric 

Submit to the Writing Lab (in Brainfuse)

Writing is a process. It helps to have feedback from others as you go through that process.  You can submit your work for review to the Writing Lab. Just make sure you have time before your submission deadline (it takes 24-48 hours).  Here's the process:

      After using the rubric to self-assess where you're at in terms of your assignment and you've made changes using the resources provided, you can opt to submit your assignment to the Writing Lab in Brainfuse for feedback and suggestions.  Once you're logged into Brainfuse, click on the Writing Lab. How to use the Writing Lab.

Using the Writing Lab

  1. Choose the file you'd like to submit.
  2. Add any comments about the assignment that would be helpful the reviewer to know.
  3. Upload your assignment and click Submit.
  4. In 24-48 hours, go back into the Message Center in Brainfuse and find your reviewed paper.  You may find suggested specific resources for you, one of which may be a tutor appointment.  How to make an appointment with a tutor
  5. Revise your paper using the resources suggested.  If you have any questions, make an appointment with the tutor using Tutor Match  How to make an appointment with a tutor
  6. After you have made your revisions, use the rubric again to self-assess.  At that point, you may feel your assignment is ready to submit to your instructor.  If that is the case, do so. If you think your assignment needs more work, you may resubmit your assignment to the   How do I use the Writing Lab?
  7. When you feel your assignment is ready for submission to your instructor, submit it using the assignment drop box within your course
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