[Home] Homework CenterHomework CenterWriting Skills

How to Write a Research Paper

Read Your Sources and Take Notes

Research Papers


  1. Establish your topic.
  2. Look for sources of information.
  3. Read your sources and take notes.
  4. Organize your ideas.
  5. Write a first draft.
  6. Use footnotes or endnotes to document sources.
  7. Write a bibliography.
  8. Revise the first draft.
  9. Proofread the final draft.

After you've gathered your sources, begin reading and taking notes.

  1. Use 3 x 5 index cards, one fact or idea per card. This way related ideas from different sources can be easily grouped together or rearranged.
  2. On each index card, be sure to note the source, including the volume number (if there is one) and the page number. If you wind up using that idea in your paper, you will have the information about the source ready to put in your footnote or endnote.
  3. If you copy something directly from a book without putting it in your own words, put quotation marks around it so that you know it is an exact quotation. This will help you to avoid plagiarism. (For more, see What is Plagiarism?).
  4. Before you sit down to write your rough draft, organize your note cards by subtopic (you can write headings on the cards) and make an outline.

Check out the differences between these two note cards for a research paper on baseball:

Good note card:

WB, 2, p.133

Star players become national heroes

Many Americans could name every major league player, his batting average, and other accomplishments.

(What batting records were set?)

  • Lists source (World Book, Volume 2, page 133)
  • Includes heading or subtopic
  • Is limited to one fact
  • Has personal note/question

Bad note card:

Baseball becomes popular

Ty Cobb (Detroit Tigers) outfielder one of the great all-time players. Another star was Honus Wagner, a bowlegged shortstop.

"Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball."

  • Source not indicated in top right corner
  • Heading too vague
  • Too many facts
  • No name after quotation


Homework Center Home »

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

highlights

Join BIC on our mission to save handwriting and Fight For Your Write! Writing helps kids become better readers, boosts their confidence and sparks their creativity. Visit BICFightForYourWrite.com to sign our petition to save handwriting!

7 Tips for Reading Aloud to Babies & Toddlers
The AAP advises reading aloud to babies and toddlers because it boosts brain power and has many other benefits. Get some tips for making the most of story time with your tot!

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

How to Survive Summer Boredom
When the kids are home all day, every day, summer boredom strikes hard and fast. Learn the best summer boredom busters and tips for surviving until September.

12 Birthday Party Favors that Won't Get Thrown Away
The next time you're planning a birthday, forgo the penny candy and cheap toys. Send your guests home with one of these fun and creative party favor ideas!