Before you begin work on any research paper, examine the assignment closely for any requirements.
Q. How long is the paper?
This could be a page length, a page range, a word count, etc. For this assignment, you will submit a 5 paragraph essay.
Q. How many sources?
How many total sources does your instructor ask for; are they all outside sources or does your textbook count as one of your sources?
Q. What kind of sources?
You will want to use credible, authoritative sources for this assignment. Examples of credible sources include books, quality magazines, academic journals, and credible websites.
Q. How do you cite sources?
Q. What is due?
Is this just a paper? Are there other pieces like a rough draft, outline, summary, reading response, a tutorial, etc. Make note of all the parts of the assignment and create a checklist to make sure you don't leave anything out.
Q. When is it due?
How long do you have to work on this paper? 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.
Q. What other requirements should you make note of?
Are there requirements to include a certain number of quotes or paraphrases? Do you need to have a certain number of paragraphs? Make note of any other requirements on the assignment sheet, and ask your instructor for clarification on any parts you're not sure about.
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 resources for choosing a conspiracy theory:
Tip: 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.