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Writing Your Research Papers

The Research Process

The Reseearch Process (transcript below)


The Research Process in 8 steps

Johns Hopkins University

Step 1: Review & understand the assignment 

  • what is the question asking?
  • review your class notes
  • clarify any specific requirements (i.e. page length, number of sources, due date)

Confused? Talk to your professor!

Check back on this step throughout the research process to make sure that you’re still answering the question 

Step 2: Define a research topic

  • what do you want to learn more about?
  • look over the information you found
  • does this topic address the assignment?

Good job! This can be the hardest part of the research!

Step 3: Gather background information


  • review class notes 
  • search onesearch 
  • find guides by topic

Stwp 4: Gather sources

All right, let’s get back to work

Where do you find sources?

  • OneSearch
    Start here & search keywords
  • WorldCat
    Narrow your search & find primary sources
  • Library Databases
    Search by name or topic to access specific topics
  • Ask your librarian!
    Find the librarian for your discipline & ask for help

Step 5: Cite your sources

  • APA? MLA? Chicago? Ask your professor!
  • Cite while gathering your sources
  • Create a bibliography 

Plagiarism is not cool!

Step 6: Write a thesis

is it clear? focused? arguable?

Your thesis will change throughout the course of writing your paper, so come back to this step as many times as you need to!


Now's a good time to check back on step 1

Step 7: Write

Organization is key — outline your paper first!

  • stay on topic, but if you go in a different direction, see where it takes you & then revise your thesis 
  • utilize & cite your source
  • get your ideas onto paper & worry about grammar later!

Stuck with your writing? Visit the writing center — they'll help you out!

Step 8: Edit Edit Edit

  • organization
  • clarity
  • grammar

Review & repeat all 8 steps.