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HCTC Library Orientation and Research Guide: Write Your Research Paper

This guide is meant to help HCTC library users locate and use library resources and aid them in their research.

Research Flowchart

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Print Resources for Writing Your Paper

The Aims of Argument by Timothy W. Crusius
The Craft of Research by Wayne C. Booth Gregory G Colomb; Joseph M Williams
Writing Argumentative Essays by Nancy V. Wood
Rules for Writers by Diana Hacker
A Writer's Reference by Diana Hacker
Write Right! by Venolia Jan
The Little, Brown Handbook by H. Ramsey Fowler

Web Resources for Writing Your Paper

The Thesis Statement

A thesis statement is the main idea of your research paper. It is the point around which your entire argument will support/prove/return to. Here are some hints and tips for writing a thesis statement (and sticking to it!):

  • Ask a question!
    • Answer the question and take a stance on the issue presented.
  • Make sure the topic is interesting to you, if you are bored your readers will be bored.
  • Make sure the topic fits the length required of your research paper.
    • Can this topic be addressed in the assigned range of 3-5 pages? If not, you may need to change your topic.

Incorporating Your Sources


Paraphrasing or summarizing a source quotations can be a good alternative to overusing direct quotations in a research assignment. It is also a useful skill when synthesizing information to demonstrate understanding of the material. Paraphrasing or summarizing a source means to explain the idea of the source quote without using the exact language of the source or to explain it in simpler terms.

Paraphrased or summarized sources still need to be cited. 

Direct Quotations:

Direct quotations of sources should be used sparingly, especially long, block quotations and only when they contribute to the scholarly aspect of your research paper in a greater way than summarizing the source can. Directly quoting a source means to use the exact language of a source.

  • In Paragraph

When using a short direct quote, less than four lines of text, the quote can be incorporated into the paragraph, bracketed by quotation marks followed by the in-text citation appropriate to the source. 

  • Block Quotes

For direct quotes longer than four lines of text the quote should be separated from the prior paragraph in the form of a block of text, formatted according to the citation style your instructor prefers and followed by the correct in-text citation.

Always, always, always attribute credit to the original author of a source used. Avoid plagiarism!

Tips for Outlining Your Paper

Creating an outline for research papers: three types of outline. An alphanumeric outline will be organized beginning with the main topic and then narrowing down that topic using supporting information, examples, and quotes. Students will continue this pattern until they have reached their conclusion. A full sentence outline is similar to the alphanumeric but instead of using keywords or subject terms you will write full sentences to outline your paper. You need to express supporting information in full sentences as well. Examples will be explained in full rather than noted in shorter terms. Type out the full quotation. A full-sentence outline may look like your first draft. Finally a decimal outline is a to the point outline using numbers like 1.0 and then 1.1 for supporting information, 1.1.1 for the first example., 1.1.2 for the second example and continuing that pattern.