Ordinarily this assignment is really to write an essay, but a Research Essay, which just means an essay that has been expanded by your research. This assignment gets some students in trouble because they think a research paper is just a matter of following a procedure: go to the library, find sources, make notes on notecards, put your notes in order, and write a paper with footnotes and bibliography. A real research paper must start with your own interests and thinking, with subjects and questions you think are important. It's wise to begin the research paper process by writing down your own initial thinking and knowledge around your subject and the kinds of questions you think might be important to ask. But a research paper must also involve a real, often time-consuming search of any sources that might provide information and ideas once you have identified a tentative research question: People. A computer data base. Books and journals in your neighborhood and university libraries. The internet. Even your own surveys or experiments. Your research essay must document where you got all the information and ideas you didn't have before your started your research--your sources--especially your sources for anything that readers might question or disagree with. Usually you document by in-text citations of all research information and by a list of works cited at the close of the paper. For a thorough tutorial on how to write a research paper, from start to finish, go to the Research Writing Section.