Ten steps for writing a research paper Part 3

Step 7: Outline your paper

The final outline is similar to the working outline, but is more complex, with each topic being further divided into several subtopics.


Women’s role in Britain before WW2

  • Role in society
  • Beliefs about women’s place
  • Reasoning
  • Jobs women were allowed to do
  • Types of jobs
  • Statistics

Creation of Women’s Land Army

  • Why was it created? Background
  • Changing lives of the participants
  • Move from industrial to rural
  • Learned new skills

After World War 2

  • New opportunities
  • Changed overall make up of work force
  • Women without husbands
  • Many women lost their husbands during the war

Your final outline also should reflect the organizational format you have chosen for your paper. This will depend on the topic of your paper and your thesis statement.

Step 8: Write the Rough Draft

After you have completed your final outline, you can begin to write your rough draft. It is important to remember that this rough draft will be revised. Therefore, at this time, you do not need to worry too much about spelling or punctuation. Instead, you should concentrate on the content of the paper, following your outline and expanding the ideas in it with information from your notes.

Your paper should consist of three parts: the introduction, the body of the paper and the conclusion.

The introduction should state the thesis, summarize the main ideas of the paper and capture the reader’s interest.

The body of the paper should develop each section of the outline into separate paragraphs.

The conclusion should summarize your findings and restate the thesis.

Step 9: Edit Your Paper

When you have finished the rough draft, read through it again and revise it.

Pay particular attention to the content and organization of the paper:

Does each paragraph have a topic sentence that relates to the thesis? Is each idea supported by evidence?

Are there clear transitions from one section to another, from your words to quotations? Are there clear transitions to indicate to the reader when one idea is ending and another one is beginning?

Revision often requires many readings, each with its own purpose.

Step 10: Write the Final Draft

The final draft of your paper should be typed and must include citations and a bibliography; some paper might require a title page, depending on the formatting style.

The bibliography is simply a list of your sources in alphabetical order; use easybib.com MLA formatting to help. The OWL Purdue website is also helpful.

Before handing in your paper, be sure to proofread it for any mechanical errors.

Ten steps for writing a research paper Part 2

Step 4: Form a preliminary bibliography

A preliminary bibliography is a list of potential sources of information.

Evaluate the potential sources as you go along, keeping in mind how well they relate to your topic, how up-to-date they are and how available they are.

As you select articles and books, record your sources as you go. Using flash cards, Word, sticky notes, etc. is a good method. Later, when you format and complete your final bibliography, you will just arrange this information in alphabetical order.

Step 5: Prepare a Working Outline

This will help give order to your note taking.

Begin by listing the topics you want to discuss in your paper. (You should have a general idea of these from the reading you have already done.) Then, divide the items on the list into major topics and subtopics.


Thesis- “The Women’s Land Army in Britain further advanced women’s rights in Britain during World War 2 and beyond by expanding the role of women in the work place and teaching them skills they could use to lives independent of men.”

Working outline-

Women’s role in Britain before WW2

  • Role in society
  • Jobs women were allowed to do

Creation of Women’s Land Army

  • Reason
  • Changing lives of the participants

After World War 2

  • New opportunities
  • Women without husbands

Step 6: Start taking notes

After you have gathered your materials and prepare a working outline, you can start to take notes.

Notes should relate in some way to one of the topics on your working outline. Label each section with the appropriate topic; each should also include the title of the source of information. This is very important because you must cite all material even if you have not used the exact words of the text.

Be sure to write the note in your own words; use direct quotes only when the information is worded in a particularly unusual way.


Ten steps for writing a research paper

There are ten steps involved in writing a research paper:

Step 1: Select a subject

Step 2: Narrow the topic

Step 3: State the tentative thesis

Step 4: Form a preliminary bibliography

Step 5: Prepare a working outline

Step 6: Start taking notes

Step 7: Outline the paper

Step 8: Write a rough draft

Step 9: Edit your paper

Step 10: Write the final draft

Step 1: Select a subject

Choose your subject carefully. Think about the following: how much time you have, the length of the paper, and your intended audience.

Remember: The more specific, the better. Too general and you will find yourself with information overload and either a) an overly simplistic essay, or b) an impossibly long essay that you are unable to finish before the due date!

For example:

A general topic would be “Women during World War II”.

A more specific and manageable topic would be “Women’s Land Army in Britain during World War II”.

Writing the paper will be much easier if you will be able to later form an opinion or view point about your subject.

Step 2: Narrow the topic

The topic of the paper is what you want to say about the subject. To narrow the topic, you will need to do some background research. No need for detailed notes at this time, just jot down some big ideas you’re noticing.

Some questions to consider:

  • Who are the important people involved?
  • What are the major issues?
  • What are my opinions regarding the topic?
  • Why is this an important (controversial, interesting) subject?
  • How has the problem (or issue) developed? When? Where?

The answers will help you narrow your topic.


Women’s Land Army in Britain during World War 2.

  • Began in WWI to cope with 3 million men away to fight
  • Government wanted to increase amount of food grown in Britain
  • Many came from industrial cities and London
  • Lady Gertrude Denman

Topic- Women’s Land Army in Britain further advanced women’s rights in Britain after World War 2 because:                                                                (to be decided next!)

Step 3: State your thesis statement

Before you begin your research for your paper, you need to compose a thesis statement that describes the viewpoint you are going to express and support in your paper. Since your purpose in the rest of the paper is to prove the validity of your thesis, your thesis statement provides a controlling idea which will help you choose the resource materials you will use and will limit your note taking.


Thesis Statement- “The Women’s Land Army in Britain further advanced women’s rights in Britain during World War 2 and beyond by expanding the role of women in the work place and teaching them skills they could use to lives independent of men.”

Controlling idea- “Further advanced women’s rights”- the writer will look for material that describe women’s roles before, during, and after WW2; background of WLA, etc.

A Multi-genre Research Paper

As an alternative to the traditional research paper, consider the option of writing a multi-genre paper.  This type of writing is probably different from the kinds you have already done because you write on topics and create a project with a number of writing genres, not just one.  In other words, you don’t just write a research paper or a book report; instead you create a project using such genres as “diaries, reports, sermons, letters, plays, poems, and ethnographic field notes” as described by Robert Davis et al. in the Fall 1998 Oregon English Journal .

Some of you may have written creative non-fiction pieces that contained “meanders” to other forms of writing as described by Mary Paumier Jones in her essay “Meander” (Creative Nonfiction 1 1993)

Multi-genre writing gives you wide latitude for you to pick your forms of exploration of topics, as with your meanders.

Davis et al. gives us a rationale of why this type of writing is important.  He writes, “We live on a multi-world: multi-cultural, multi-lingual, multi-media, multi educational.  Every day, we are bombarded with a multitude of messages, from a multitude of sources.  A multi-genre research paper lends itself to the real world, and how we  receive information.  We see it on the news, in movies, in music videos, on the Internet; we hear it on the radio, in the halls, the classroom, church, car, locker room, on the phone; and we read it in books, magazines, textbooks, letters, advertisements, newspapers, and e-mail.”  Doesn’t it make sense to draw on the communication types around us to understand our world?

Another way of looking at how we can go about writing in this new approach is described by Tom Lovell of Pendleton High School in Pendleton Oregon who writes,

“A multi-genre research paper is a reflection of the times we live in.  Instead of writing one paper in one genre based on one source, this paper uses a variety of informational sources and incorporates those genres, possibly mimicking or adapting those sources, into a paper.  The multi-genre research paper takes information from multiple sources and presents it in multiple ways.” 

By using this approach, you have freedom in choosing your genres.  While it may be comfortable to stick with the familiar, here is an opportunity to venture into new forms you haven’t dabbled in much before.  Consider how writing a scene from a play is less formidable if it is just one part of a larger group which gets across your ideas about a subject.

What will a multi-genre research paper look like? 

Unlike the traditional research paper which uses only scholarly sources from other writers and researchers, you can pull from a variety of writing.  For example, in a multi-genre research paper on the effects of adoption on children, you can use statistics from the state in which you live and  scholarly journals such as found online in EBSCO and in research libraries, and then expand from such traditional sources to letters from adopted children, transcripts of interviews with parents and children, applications for adoption, diaries of parents traveling to China to adopt, ads from adoption agencies, letters to and from parents and children, court cases of adoption procedures, newspaper articles on families cited for neglect of adopted children, memoirs of adoptees, psychological profiles of children during the first year, and  scenes from screen plays in which adoption is a central theme. The successful multi-genre research paper will be exciting to read and less formulaic than the typical research paper.  The main thesis will be backed by a variety of sources. Of course, the works consulted page will include selections considered but not used in the draft and will provide a broad roadmap of the journey you traveled in looking for material.

Here are some lists of genres from which to choose, thanks to Davis et al. 

Check with your instructor for specifics types to include. You may want to search for “poems, letter, diary/journal entry, advertisement, map, short scene from a play, epithet, obituary, sketch, collage, chart or diagram with explanation, vocabulary page, cartoon, playbill, certificate, historical piece, futuristic piece, comparison/contrast piece, biographical piece, tall tale, myth, jokes, character analysis, personal reaction/ critique.”


College and Career Research Paper Requirements

The objectives of this research paper are to focus on your career aspirations as well as demonstrate research and proper documentation skills. To accomplish this you will need to meet set deadlines, participate in the library research sessions and compose a research paper written to the specifications of the assignment.

I. Content – Your paper must include information on the following:
A. Three education/training requirements – a.k.a. colleges, trade or tech. programs, military, etc)
1. These can be safety, target and reach schools or just options for your post-secondary goals
2. Be specific in research parer, include details like the following:
a. tuition, enrollment, majors offered, job placement, scholarships, financial aid, athletic/extracurricular, etc.
b. for trade or military – look at qualifications needed, programs offered, cost, skills you will gain/certifications, goals of the program/branch of the military, and the “end game” of the program
B. Job requirements
1. skills
2. working conditions
C. Projected/Average Compensation
1. salary estimates
2. benefits (standard as well as “perks”)
D. Job Availability
1. Placement
2. Future –meaning advancement opportunities and longevity of career
E. Length
1. 4-6 pages, typed, double spaced
2. MUST HAVE internal citations
3. 3 sources minimum