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.
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?
Does your instructor specify certain types of sources? Are there other requirements such as how current/old the sources can be, or where the source should come from - the library, a database, a book/ebook, a peer-reviewed journal, etc.?
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. What is due?
Is this just a paper? Is there also an Annotated Bibliography due? Do you have to give a presentation? 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 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.
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 human rights issue that you're going to write about. Generally, in this assignment, your instructor will ask you to choose an instance of human rights abuse in a particular country. This means if an abuse takes place in multiple countries (such as human trafficking), you'll need to focus your research to just one country (Tip - select a country where there are plenty of sources available). In selecting your human rights abuse and country, consider the following:
Q. Do you have a choice?
Review your assignment - are you allowed to choose a human rights abuse and/or country or does your instructor provide a list or assign you one? Are certain countries or abuses off limits (such as the United States)?
Q. Do you have an interest?
If you have a choice on what issues you can write about, consider which one you find the most interesting. Which issue do you think would be the easiest to write about? Which issue would you have the most to say about? Use the next page on exploring human rights issues to see which topics might appeal to you.
Q. Are there sources?
Before you totally commit to a human rights issue in a country, you'll want to make sure that there are enough outside sources on the topic for your assignment. Not every issue in every country is going to have information written about it. Don't just find one news article or report on something and go with it. 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.