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How to Write a Research Paper

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

Think Broad

If you can't find an encyclopedia, dictionary, or textbook article on your topic, think broad. 

If your topic is global warming for example, search for an encyclopedia on the environment.  Once you locate the environmental encyclopedia, look in the index for global warming.

You will always be able to find background information on your topic--usually within an encyclopedia on a slightly broader subject/topic

To search for a print encyclopedia, go to the LVC Catalog.  Choose Advanced Search.  Click on TYPE, choose REFERENCE.  And most importantly, keep your search broad.


Image source:  Man vyi.  Public domain.  Wikimedia Commons.

Background Information

Background research serves many purposes.  It will usually:

  • offer an overview of the subject
  • identify important facts  -- terminology, dates, events, history
  • provide bibliographies (which supply additional sources of information).

Background Sources

Background information can be found in:

  • Textbooks
  • Print encyclopedias 

Image Source:  Marcus Cyron.  CC BY-SA 3.0.  Wikimedia Commons.