Step 4: Create Your Research Paper

Your goal is to write an essay that communicates your thesis and supporting points.

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“Writing comes more easily if you have something to say.”
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~ Sholem Asch
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About this step

Your paper should include an introductory paragraph(s), a body expressing your main points and a concluding paragraph(s) that summarizes your point.

  • Develop your first paragraph(s) so that your introduction ends with your thesis statement.
  • Clearly introduce and explain the main points from your outline. Insert information from your sources, being careful to cite each source
    whether the information is a direct quotation or a summary. Use direct quotes, set off in quotation marks, sparingly.
  • Restate your thesis in your concluding paragraph. Expand your ideas, and make connections for larger ideas or trends.

Consult a citation style manual or online guide for specific instructions on how to cite your sources. It is common practice to insert a parenthetical note. For example, if you are referring to an article written by Tim Johnson written in 1999, then insert (Johnson, 1999) after the text that refers to the article. The parenthetical citation should come at the end of the sentence in which you have included the quote or summary. Remember to include complete information on this source in your Bibliography or Works Cited list.

Draft text and create visuals

Compose a first draft of your paper. If you use Word, use the spell and grammar checks. Although you will be the final judge of good grammar and structure, the grammar tools in your word processor can offer helpful suggestions. If you are unsure about a particular usage, ask someone!

Need help? Check out the Writing Center's Writing Lab.

Create visuals that will enhance your message. These include photographs, charts and graphs. Only include visuals that directly support your thesis.

Remember that images that you did not create are subject to copyright rules. Obtain permission from the copyright holder or use resources from the public domain.

Revise text and insert visuals

Consider your thesis and the argument that you are presenting. Is the current order of your points the most effective? If not, reorder them and refine your message. Ensure that you guide your reader through your message with effective transitions that explain where you are heading. Ask someone to read and review your paper to ensure that your argument is clear.

Your writing will be more interesting if you find your own voice: don't get lost in the sea of your sources. This is your pulpit. State your case as only you can—using your research! Remember, your professor will be looking for evidence of your own thinking and understanding of the topic in your paper.


  • Check the final document for spelling, grammar, punctuation, citation style and assignment requirements.
  • Read your essay out loud.
  • Begin at the end of your paper and carefully read each word. This will allow you to see things your eye may have skipped over when you read it through from beginning to end. Your brain knows what it should say and will insert that—even if the words are not there.
  • Have someone else read your paper again. This time, ask your most detail-oriented friend to look for errors in spelling and grammar.

Prepare the final paper

  • Format your paper according to guidelines of the assignment.
  • Include your name, the date, the class, and the title of your paper.
  • Use the same font throughout your paper. Don't let your font choice distract from your message.
  • Add page numbers.
  • Review the paper carefully before you print.
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The Oviatt Library Research Project Calculator was adapted from a product developed jointly by MINITEX and Minnesota Library Information Network (MnLINK). It is based on the original Assignment Calculator from the University of Minnesota Libraries.

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