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.

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