Most research papers begin with a thesis statement at the end of an introductory paragraph. Even if it’s not a requirement, it’s a good idea to write a thesis statement as you begin to organize your research. Writing the thesis statement first is helpful because every argument or point you make in your paper should support this central idea you’re putting forward.
Working from your own ideas will help you avoid plagiarism. Plagiarism is the uncredited use of someone else’s words or ideas, whether you meant to use them without credit or not. This sounds scary, but it doesn’t have to be. If you follow the steps outlined in this guide, you can be confident that you’ve created your own essay that builds on the ideas, writing, and work of others, without stealing, copying, or plagiarising.
Any information that doesn’t fit within the framework of your outline, and doesn’t directly support your thesis statement, no matter how interesting, doesn’t belong in your research paper. Keep your focus narrow and avoid the kitchen sink approach.
Creating an outline is really about structuring your paper. Don’t be too formulaic, but it can be helpful to follow patterns and guides. In high school you might have written three- or five-paragraph essays, and it’s okay to use those same patterns for a college research paper, but be sure that whatever format you choose makes sense for your paper.
If you’re allowed, you can also photocopy an article or page from a book that you’ll need. This is best if there is too much to note down on paper. It will definitely save you time. Every time you note something down, make sure to write down the bibliographical information such as the author, the book title, page numbers used, volume number and publisher’s name and vital dates.