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Writing Research Papers


Welcome to the Research Paper Information Resource Center. In this center, you'll find information about drafting your research paper including prewriting, researching, writing, and using and integrating sources in your paper. The list below provides a short description of each handout; you can view a list without descriptions here. This center is updated with new handouts often, so check back frequently.




Consider the Rhetorical Situation: This handout encourages you to assess your rhetorical situation or writing situation critically and analytically.


Generate and Refine Ideas: This handout reviews some techniques for and considers some examples of generating and refining ideas, including background reading or researching, brainstorming, cubing, free writing, using journalists' questions, listing, mapping, outlining, talking with others, and keeping a research journal.


Define the Purpose, Consider the Audience, and Develop the Thesis: This handout discusses an important part of refining your topic: considering your purpose and audience and understanding how your purpose and audience relate. Once you clearly understand your purpose and audience, you can begin to develop a tentative thesis.


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Gather and Evaluate Information: This handout discusses the key parts to developing a search strategy. 


Understand the Difference: Primary versus Secondary Sources: This handout discusses the difference between primary sources and secondary sources and gives examples of each.


Understanding Periodicals: Scholarly versus Non-scholarly Sources  This handout explains five general types of periodicals and provides information about determining whether the periodical is scholarly or non-scholarly.


Find and Evaluate Internet Sources: This handout discusses directories, search engines, and metasearch engines.  It also provides a technique for evaluating Internet sources to ensure that sources are valuable and trustworthy.  


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Draft Your Introduction: This handout discusses effective introductions and provides strategies (and examples of those strategies) for beginning your papers.


Draft Body Paragraphs: Topic Sentences: This handout discusses what is often considered to be the most important sentence in a paragraph: the topic sentence.


Draft Body Paragraphs: Transitioning: Transitioning involves signaling to your reader that you are about to change direction in your paper, which enables you to shift from one point to another. This handout discusses two kinds of transitioning: within and between paragraphs.


Drafting Body Paragraphs: CECC: An Internal Organization Strategy: This handout discusses the CECC approach, which was designed by Penn State University writing tutors Trent Mikesell and Jamie Steck. CECC (or Claim, Evidence, Commentary, Conclusion) is one of the most basic ways to organize the information in a body paragraph.

Purpose-Based Organization Strategies: Cause- Effect: This handout discusses how to organize paragraphs in the cause-effect formula which seek to illustrate the relationship(s) between two or more events by revealing why or how something happened.

Purpose-Based Organization Strategies: Chronological: This handout provides information on how to organize chronological paragraphs, which typically offer information in step-by-step order.

Purpose-Based Organization Strategies: Compare-Contrast: This handout discusses how to organize paragraphs that compare and/or contrast information. The comparison-contrast pattern is used to discuss the similarities and/or differences between two or more ideas or occurrences in order to reveal a certain point about these ideas or occurrences.

Purpose-Based Organization Strategies: Problem-Solution: This handout discusses problem-solution paragraphs which identify a problem, or problems, and recommends a plausible solution(s).


Draft Your Conclusion: This handout discusses effective conclusions and provides strategies (and examples of those strategies for concluding your papers.


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Using and Integrating Sources in Your Paper


Avoid Plagiarism: This handout discusses why you should be concerned about plagiarism and how you can avoid it.


Decide when to Quote, Paraphrase, and Summarize: This handout provides suggestions for deciding when to quote, paraphrase, or summarize.


Learn to Paraphrase: This handout discusses when you should paraphrase and provides step-by-step instructions for paraphrasing.


Learn to Summarize: This handout discusses when you should summarize and provides step-by-step instructions for summarizing.


Practice Paraphrase/Summarize: This handout provides some passages for you to practice your paraphrase and/or summary skills.  UHV students may submit the practice exercises to peer writing tutors for feedback.  


Signal Your Sources: This handout discusses various ways to signal (or introduce) source material.


Signal Your Commentary on Source Material: This handout discusses two techniques for signaling your commentary of source material: parenthetical citations and transitions.


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Global Revision: This handout provides three strategies for looking at the "big picture" of research papers, including checking topic sentences, transitions, and thesis statements.


Paragraph and Sentence Strategy: Moving From Known (Old) Information to Unknown (New) Information:  This handout provides a strategy that writers can use to add coherence to their paragraphs and sentences.  It discusses the need for writers to to establish the known, or old, material first before moving on to the unknown, or new, information.



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