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Steps to writing
ENG 102 Guides

Link to Syllabus

Research, according to Webster, is a 1) careful or diligent search, and 2) studious inquiry or examination-especially investigation or experimentation aimed at the discovery and interpretation of facts. The purpose of writing a research report is to clearly communicate what you have learned through your research.

The following list of steps is designed to help you make it through the process successfully.


Step 1: Set Work Schedule/Timetable
Since you will have several weeks to complete a research paper, it is easy to ignore-and thus put off-requirements that are not due immediately. Use a checksheet (see link at the bottom of page), to keep you on schedule. First, write in your final due date and work backwards to today.

Step 2: Identify General Topic and Begin Library Work
Brainstorm topics that interest you, subjects you want to know about. Select one topic you want to read about, don't already have strong opinion about, and have some background to understand. Before you begin to research , take time to learn to use the various library sources.

Step 3: Clarify Required Documentation Style
You must credit the authors of all the facts hand opinions you use in your paper; you much document your sources. Although there are several different documentation styles, your instructor will require/recommend one specific style-probably MLA or APA. Consistent, accurate documentation is critical to good research.

Step 4: Read to Narrow Topic
Read several general pieces about your topic to help you decide which aspect of the subject will be your focus. Once you narrow your topic, run a preliminary data base/indices search to be sure there is enough accessible material to support your research in that area. Decide if your primary purpose is to explain or persuade.

Step 5: Draft Preliminary Thesis
Like any good thesis statement, your research paper thesis must state your controlling idea about your topic. Keep revising your thesis statement until you clearly communicated your controlling idea.

Step 6: Begin Research and Notetaking
Without purposeful, critical reading and meaningful, accurate notetaking, you cannot produce a good research paper no matter how excellent a writer you are. Always note complete citation information.

Step 7: Draft Tentative Working Outline
This informal outline will help you organize the main ideas, major and minor detail you want to use to develop and support your thesis. In addition, outlining helps you present ideas in a logical order.

Step 8: Continue Research and Notetaking

Step 9: Draft Final Outline
If an outline is required, it should use the conventions of formal outlining.

Step 10: Refine Thesis and Write First Draft
From your reading you should be ready to rewrite your thesis statement into a clear, brief sentence that precisely focuses your paper. Your draft should be a well-crafted combination of direct quotes, idea summaries, paraphrased ideas-all properly credited-and your original writing.

Step 11: Read to Fill-In Any Gaps In Research

Step 12: Develop Works Cited Sheet
In addition to citing with parenthesis in the body of the paper, you must develop a list of Works Cited at the end of your paper-an alphabetical listing of all your sources in the style your instructor requires.

Step 13: Write Draft Two, Three, Four...
Remember, the key to good writing is rewriting. Having someone, like a tutor, read your draft may be helpful.

Step 14: Edit, Format and Double-Check Citations

Step 15: Complete Final Draft and Proofread

Link to checksheet

Click on the picture here to go to the checksheet. Even if you don't use the sheet, do be sure to put deadlines and reqruiements on a calendar or schedule to keep careful track of the work that needs to be completed.

Source: Glendale Community College, Learning Assistance Center