Before you begin work on any research paper, examine the assignment closely for any requirements.
Q. How long is the paper?
This paper should be 800-900 words in length.
Q. How many sources?
You will need to use your text as a primary source including commentary about the work and time period. In addition, use two to three secondary sources.
Q. What kind of sources?
Your secondary sources should include literary criticism from the library databases, books, eBooks and other academic sources. You may use one reliable internet source by a reputable author. Do not use Wikipedia or general encyclopedias or reference sources. Specialized reference sources are acceptable.
Q. How do you cite sources?
Most instructors will ask you to use MLA format for your citations, but double-check to make sure. You may want to remind yourself what information you need to create the MLA Works Cited page and in-text citations.
Q. When is it due?
How long do you have to work on this paper or project? Is there one due date for everything or are there multiple due dates for different parts of the assignment? Plan out your time, so you don't get stuck doing all the work at the last minute. Plan extra time in case you have problems or get stuck.
The first thing you need to do before you begin a research paper is to select a topic that you're going to write about. Consider the following:
Q. Do you have a choice?
Your instructor has given you two topics to choose from using either The Prince by Machiavelli or The Analects by Confucius. Read the instructions carefully considering all of the questions to ask yourself as you form your thesis statement.
Q. Do you have an interest?
If you have a choice on what topic you can write about, consider which one you find the most interesting. Which topic do you think would be the easiest to write about? Which topic would you have the most to say about?
Q. Are there sources?
Before you totally commit to a topic, you'll want to make sure that there are enough outside sources on the topic for your assignment. 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.