Now that you understand what you’ve been asked to do, have chosen a topic that fits the assignment, and have researched and organized that research, you’re ready to articulate your own opinion, argument, or assertion.
You don’t have to read in-full everything ever written about your topic. In fact, you probably can’t. Get comfortable reading through things quickly. Learn how to identify key points and arguments without getting bogged down and reading every word.
When writing a research paper for a teacher or professor, it is important to step back and think about why they asked you to write this essay in the first place. More than likely, they are giving you an opportunity to learn something. Learning often involves trial-and-error, making mistakes, and asking lots of questions.
Take what you have learned from a Google search or Wikipedia article and dig deeper. Check out the sources on the article, use keywords from your internet search to search an academic database, or ask an expert whether or not what you learned is valid and if it is, where you can find a reliable source stating the same thing. So, just to be clear: you can use Wikipedia as a starting point in your research, but you should not cite Wikipedia as one of the primary sources for your research paper.
Even if you aren’t arguing for or against anything, your paper needs a thesis. A thesis is a short statement that you — as researcher and author output forward for the readers of your paper as what you are trying to explain or prove.