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Shapiro Library

Getting Started with Research at Shapiro Library

This guide discusses understanding information sources, formulating a topic and search phrase, where and how to search the library for information, how to evaluate sources, how to cite sources, and more.

Writing Papers


Not sure how to start? The questions and processes below can help.

  • Identify the purpose or goal of your assignment:
    • Why are you writing this paper?
      • Are you arguing a point?
      • Are you debating two sides of an issue?
  • Understand what you need to accomplish in your paper:
    • Read all the assigned course readings.
    • Read the assignment rubric.
  • Develop your paper’s topic.
    • Think about what you already know about this topic and brainstorm a few more ideas.
    • Ask yourself who, what, where, when, why, and how questions about your topic.
  • Find the answers to your who, what, where, when, why, and how questions.
    • Use databases provided by the Shapiro Library to find sources.
  • Review the information that you found.
    • Decide the main point and supporting points you want to convey or prove in your paper.
    • Find evidence (facts, quotes, details, or expert opinions) to support your main points.
    • Organize your points into a structure that makes sense.
  • Start writing. Don’t worry about making it perfect. Just get your thoughts on paper.
  • Do you have writer's block?
    • Practice freewriting:
      • Write about your topic for a set amount of time.
      • Do not worry if it makes any sense or not, just start writing.
    • Use techniques such as brainstorming and mind mapping to organize your thoughts.
  • Read what you have written and revise your paper.

Need help writing a paper?

Check out these resources:

Academic Support Video

Helpful Books from the Library

Helpful Web Resources