What is a Research Paper?

A research paper is an inquiry and investigation on a given topic/subject. It may be defined as the culmination and final product of an involved process of research, critical thinking, source evaluation, organization, and composition.

General Steps to Writing a Research Paper:

  1. Brainstorming an Idea
  2. Searching for Sources
  3. Creating an Argument
  4. Drafting the Assignment 
  5. Revising the Final Draft

For additional information, check out the Writing Process, where we breakdown different writing concepts that fall slightly outside the purview of a research paper. The information within the writing process pages also provide a more thorough look at quotation integration and understanding academic lingo, which is not fully explored in the general steps that we have provided above.

Video Resources: 

Ingram Library Resources:

Ingram Library provides students with free access to multiple academic journals for a wide-range of subjects.

When starting the research process, check out the academic databases below:

  • ABELL (Annual Bibliography of English Language and Literature): Lists monographs, periodical articles, critical editions of literary works, book reviews, collections of essays, and doctoral dissertations on English and American literature since 1920. (No full text)
  • Gale Literary Sources: Contains 5 literary databases: Literature Criticism Online, Literature Resource Center, Scribner Writers on GVLR, Something about the Author Online, and Twayne's Authors on GVLR. These resources include literary criticism and biographical and critical essays on the lives and works of influential literary figures from the US and beyond.
  • Literary Reference Center: Information from respected reference works, books, and literary journals. Includes work overviews, articles of literary criticism, author biographies, book reviews, and short stories and poems.
  • Literature Online Complete (LION): LION (Literature Online) is a full-text library of over 330,000 works of British and American poetry, drama and prose. In addition to literary texts, LION includes biographical sketches of major writers, selected author bibliographies, and critical and reference works.
  • Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism: Historical survey of the key literary figures, schools, and movements.
  • JSTOR: Access to back issues of core journals. Includes extensive content in literature. 
  • MLA International Bibliography (Literature and Language): Journal articles, books, and dissertations. Subjects include literature, language and linguistics, folklore, literary theory & criticism, and the performing arts. 
  • ProQuest Research Library: Multi-disciplinary database with many full-text scholarly articles.
  • Project Muse: Scholarly publications in the humanities, arts, and social sciences. Includes extensive content on literature.

Important thing to remember: to use the University's databases off campus, be sure to log in with the GALILEO password first. (The GALILEO password can be found in the Resources box in CourseDen--lower right)

Additional Resources:

  • Google Scholar: Google search engine for scholarly sources. 
  • Refdesk.com is a free and family friendly web site indexing and reviewing quality, credible, and current Internet reference resources.
  • Library of Congress is the research library that officially serves the United States Congress and is the de facto national library of the United States.
  • Internet Archive is a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites, and more.
  • Open Library provides online access to many public domain and out-of-print books.
  • Project Gutenberg is a collection of public domain books.
  • Library Extension is a helpful aid in finding books in local libraries.
  • Zotero is a free, easy-to-use tool to help you collect, organize, cite, and share research.