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How to Conduct Research for a Research Paper

by tutlance

How to Write a Research Paper: Conducting Research

One of the most important steps in writing a research paper is conducting research.

This step can be broken down into four smaller steps: formulating a research question, locating sources, taking notes, and evaluating sources.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these step to conduct research for a research paper.

Formulating a Research Question

The first step in conducting research is formulating a research question. A good research question should be specific, clear, and focused.

For example, “What are the effects of watching too much television?” is too broad. “How does viewing violence on television affect children’s behavior?” is more specific and focused.

Keep in mind that it is often easier to narrow a broad topic down once you have done some initial research.

Locating Sources

Once you have formulated a research question, the next step is to locate sources that can help answer that question.

There are two main types of sources: primary and secondary.

  • Primary sources are firsthand accounts of an event or phenomenon, such as diaries, interviews, or speeches.
  • Secondary sources are interpretations or analyses of primary sources, such as books or articles about the Holocaust.

It is important to use both primary and secondary sources when conducting research; using only one type of source will provide an incomplete picture.

There are many places to find sources for your research paper. The library is always a good place to start; librarians can help you locate both print and electronic resources.

You can also find reputable sources online by using databases such as EBSCOhost or JSTOR.

Finally, don’t forget that Google can also be a valuable resource for finding information; just make sure to evaluate the credibility of each source you use before making any decisions about including it in your paper.

Taking Notes

Once you have found some good sources, the next step is to begin taking notes. When taking notes from print resources (books, articles, etc.), it is important to write down not only the main points but also the page numbers where you found them. This will make it much easier to cite your sources later on.

When taking notes from electronic resources (websites, databases), make sure to copy and paste the URL into your document so that you can easily find it again later on.

Be sure to keep track of all the pertinent information about each source (author’s name, title of work, date of publication, etc.) as you go along.

This will save you a lot of time later on when you are writing your paper and need to create your bibliography.

Evaluating Sources

After taking notes from all your different sources, it’s time to start evaluating them. Not all sources are created equal; some will be more useful than others for answering your research question.

To evaluate each source, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is this source biased?
  • How credible is the author?
  • Is the date of publication recent enough?
  • Does this source add anything new or different to what I already know?

Once you have evaluated each source, you should have a good idea of which ones will be most useful for answering your research question and including in your paper.


These are just a few tips for conducting research for your next paper. Remember to formulate a clear and focused research question; locate both primary and secondary sources; take good notes; and evaluate each source carefully before using it in your paper.

By following these steps, you’ll be well on your way to writing a great research paper!

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