Before you begin work on any research paper, examine the assignment closely for any requirements.
Q. How long is the paper?
Confirm on your assignment, but this paper will be at least 3 pages long.
Q. How many sources and what kind?
Your paper should be based on a peer-reviewed, primary scientific research article (an experiment). The research must contain an experiment and can not simply be a review of the topic. The article must have been published in the last ten years.
You can include additional sources in your paper that explain or support your primary article, but these sources should also be peer-reviewed, primary scientific research articles.
Peer-reviewed scientific journals publish high-quality, verifiable scientific research (our databases will tell you which journals/articles are peer-reviewed. Ask a librarian to confirm. Peer review means that the article has been reviewed and approved by an expert in the field before it was published. This is the highest level of authority in academic publishing.
Primary scientific literature is articles written about research by the scientists that are actually doing the research (an experiment). Your clue will be that they often have section discussing the method/methodology of the research study, their results, a discussion section, etc.
Q. How do you cite sources?
Your paper should include a References or Works Cited list at the end of your paper that lists all of the sources that you used in alphabetical order.
Check your assignment to determine what your teacher requires. If you can choose, just make sure that you are consistent and use the same format throughout your paper for all sources. Many scientific papers use APA format, if you would like to learn more about this format go to our APA Citation Guide for more information. Also, take a look at the Cite Your Sources page of this guide for more guidance and examples. If you prefer, we also have our MLA Citation Guide. Both guides go over how to cite sources at the end of your paper, how to format your paper, and how to do the in-text citations (parenthetical references) in the body of your paper.
Q. When is your paper due?
Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to work on this assignment. Remember that research and narrowing a topic, finding and reviewing scientific literature, and writing and revising your paper will all take time (probably longer than you think!). So get started early! And come to the library for sources/citing help, and see the TLC for writing/revision help.
Q. What other requirements should you make note of?
Be sure to read your assignment very carefully. Make a list of all the requirements. Take special care to ensure that your paper does not include plagiarism. Be very aware of copying material, and intentionally spend time summarizing and paraphrasing it. Be sure to keep track of your sources so you can cite them appropriately.
The first thing you need to do before you begin a research paper is to brainstorm and select a topic that you're going to write about. IIf you have the freedom to choose your own topic, consider the following:
What's Your Interest? Start by reviewing the topics from your class and textbook that have most interested you and you want to learn more about. You want to pick an area that you won't mind exploring in more detail or writing about.
Are There Sources? Before you totally commit to a topic, you may want to look around a bit and/or consult with a librarian to make sure that there are some studies available to you through the SCC Library or elsewhere in your area of interest before you totally commit to a topic. Not every topic is going to have information written about it. Newer topics or topics that aren't as well known may be harder to find sources for. Do some searching in the library's databases to make sure there are sources, and Ask-A-Librarian to double-check if you're not sure there are enough sources for a topic you're really interested in.
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