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Plagiarism: Guide to Writing a Research Paper

How to Write a Research Paper

How to Write an Awesome Research Paper (in 4 minutes)

A four-minute explanation on how to write a research paper (no one can write a whole paper in four minutes, silly!)

Guide to Writing a Research Paper

Guide to Writing a Research Paper Using the Tuskegee University Libraries

Alleviate the frustration of writing a research paper by starting early. Time management is paramount to writing!! The steps below will provide helpful information on writing an excellent paper. Remember, to ask a librarian for assistance.

Select a Topic
If the instructor has not assigned a specific topic, select something interesting. Try to avoid topics with limited information. Focus on keywords; using a dictionary or thesaurus can help.  

Background Information
Encyclopedias are an excellent resource for background information. The library provides a variety of different types such as general (Britannica), specialized, or subject The Encyclopedia of Science and Technology). Many articles have "suggested reading information" at the end of the article which, could provide more sources.

Use the Library’s Online Catalog to Search for Books
Books are excellent primary sources which will form the backbone of the research. Therefore, it is crucial to know how to find them. The catalog can be accessed by going to the library’s page ( then click “Library Catalog.” Search by words or phrases, author, title, subject, or check the library’s journal subscriptions.

Periodical Databases to Find Articles
The library subscribes to many electronic databases 
and are indexes to journal articles. Some of the databases even provide links to the actual article, also referred to as Full Text.

To access the periodical databases, go to the library’s homepage and select “Databases/E-resources.” The databases are arranged alphabetically and by subject.  Selecting "Alphabetically" will list the databases/links alphabetically. Click on "Subject," and the complete listing of majors/subjects will appear. Select the subject that best fits the topic, then, click the databases listed under that subject.

Some of the general databases (Academic Search Premier and Expanded Academic Index ASAP) cover a wide range of topics.  However, subject databases such as Science Direct, Agricola, CINAHL (Nursing), and Social Work Abstracts have more in-depth coverage of scholarly journals.

Remember to search multiple databases. Not all databases overlap; some journals are only indexed in specific databases. Please ask a librarian for assistance selecting or using the database(s).

Using the Internet
The Internet can be an excellent tool for locating resources. However, one must be critical of the available information. When searching for articles utilizing the library’s databases, it is the same as using printed journals. See "Evaluating Resources"  

Government Information
Government Information can be helpful when looking for specific types of information. For example, using census data for research, use the link to Government Documents located on the library’s homepage.

Avoid Plagiarism
When using someone else’s words or ideas, to avoid plagiarism, do not forget to cite the information.  More information can be found by going to the Library’s homepage and go to "Research & Style Guide" then click on “Research and Citation Style Guide." 

Citing Resources
There are many different citation styles when citing the sources. Check with the instructor to find out which one to use. Some popular research styles are the APA, Chicago/Turabian, and MLA styles. MLA is the acronym for Modern Language Association, and APA is the acronym for the American Psychological Association. Utilize the library's webpage to access Research style manuals, and all style guide handbooks are kept behind the Reference Desk. Consult with a librarian if using a different writing style.

Access the links to citation style guides from the library’s homepage. Click on “Research & Style Guides,” then, click on “Research and Citation Style Guides.” The Online Writing Lab provides resources for APA, Chicago Manual of Style/Turabian, or MLA styles.  Not all citation styles are listed below. Please ask a librarian for citation assistance.

Don’t forget to ask a librarian for assistance.