When you write a research paper, there will be a number and variety of resources involved. Some will be scholarly, others may not. Your instructor has likely given you some requirements for resource you. These might include a certain number of peer-reviewed articles, specific kinds of books, or something else entirely.
You will use whatever requirements your instructor has laid out, but more often than not, you will supplement these with extra resources you found helpful along your research journey. Most instructors allow, and even encourage these additions as long as the requirements are met first. You wouldn't want to rely too much on resources outside of those required, but you may find a great argument to disprove, or perhaps a non-scholarly resource that clearly and concisely defines a term important to your research that you would like to quote.
Always make sure that your instructor's requirements are met.
What to Do with All This Research
Now that you have located a number of scholarly and high-quality non-scholarly resources, it is time to analyze and synthesize them into your finished product. Below are a few helpful hints for how to do this.
- Gather all your resources together in one place. Come up with a system that will help you keep organized. Some students number their resources, others create a list of references or citations first and use the authors' last names to stay organized. Whatever works for you is fine.
- Highlight and annotate. As you learned in the "Tips for Reading Academic Texts" it is so much more helpful to write down your thoughts about something than simply to highlight. When you highlight, you are drawing your attention back to something you believed was important the first time you read it. When you annotate, or write notes about what you're reading, you can remind yourself why you thought it was important.
- Review your materials. Read through the highlights and annotations you made in order to get a big picture of all the things you want to include. If something is missing, or the source for that piece is not as reliable (and you need it to be), you may have to go back to a database to find another.
- Make an outline. The outline should include some background information about the topic (helping to set up why the reader should care), at least a rough draft of your thesis statement, and sections for each individual point you are trying to make along with which resources support them. Please feel free to use the Outline Template provided on this page.
- Write your first draft. Remember, there is a reason this is called a "rough" draft. It is not meant to be the final product, so don't worry too much about grammar and sentence structure at this point. Get your ideas written out, make it flow as best you can and worry about revising in the next step.
- Revise your first draft. As an alternative, reach out to the Writing tutors at the Academic Success Center for help with this process. That is what they are there for, and they can and want to help you improve your writing.
If you are interested in working on your paper or assignment over time, consider putting dates for some of these specific tasks on your planner or calendar. If you are not sure where to start, you may want to use a tool like this assignment calculator from the University of Portland.