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How to Write a Research Paper

A step-by-step guide to writing a research paper.

Develop a Topic

The hardest part of research is often getting started or developing a topic.   Consider the following when you're developing your topic:

Interest.     Make sure to pick a topic that's interesting to you.   Having trouble thinking of a topic?  Try using ChatGPT.

Knowledge.    You don't need to know much about your topic--but even a little bit of knowledge, however, does help. 

Focus.     Make sure your topic is not too broad (global warming) or too narrow (How will global warming affect the sea levels on the island of Micronesia?)  It's always a good idea to test drive a topic before you commit.  Are you drowning in results?   Or did you find very little information?  After you've done a bit of research, you may find that you need to tweak or refine your topic   

Organize.   Create an outline--this'll help you organize your thoughts.  It'll also give you a solid foundation for when you begin writing.

Guidelines.     Read your assignment carefully.  Must the topic be related to the course?  Can you choose a topic?  The assignment should provide some guidance in topic choice.  If it doesn't, talk with your professor.

Source: Rapple, Brandon. Choosing a Topic. Boston College.