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How to Research for Your Academic Paper

An academic research paper requires in-depth analysis, research, and interpretation. It’s similar to regular academic papers, and you’re judged on your ability to understand and critically analyze scholarly works.

Research papers are no easy feat—they require time, energy, and effort. You need to be able to show strong engagement with the texts you’re using, and make an original contribution to your topic. It doesn’t come naturally to most and requires some practice. Luckily for you, we’ve gathered a bunch of resources on how to research for an academic paper!

Initial Research

Once you’ve decided on your topic, do a little bit of research beforehand. Find some debates centered around the topic that you think you can add a unique perspective to. For this, you can use numerous resources, but a good place to start is by conducting a quick search online. Google your topic and try to find trustworthy websites and papers that address it.

When conducting this research, you should ideally be looking for papers with a fresh, critical perspective that ideally contradicts your ideas. It’ll help you develop a stronger argument, and you can take a look at the newest developments. After you’ve done this, develop a comprehensive thesis statement, and then start your research.

People drinking coffee and researching in an office room


An outline is super useful when writing an academic paper. Your outline should include all the things that you wish to address, such as arguments, perspectives, and so on. Divide it by sections and headings, structure your paper so you have a better idea of what exactly you need to base your research on. At this stage, you should also identify what type of sources you’ll need, such as primary or secondary.

Start Researching!

When researching, start with your college or local library. These libraries usually include scholarly works and journals by academics, especially if it’s a specific topic. In your library, you can easily find a book written on your topic. If you don’t know where to start, ask your instructor for some recommendations.

Academic journals that can be found online at sources such as Google Scholar and JSTOR contain up to date information on academia, business, and industries. Literature reviews, articles on history and theories, as well as other specific topics, are also included in these sources.

If you’re searching online, go to reliable websites such as trustworthy newspapers. You can also access government and legal documents online, and these are authoritative and reliable sources of information. Alternatively, you can also visit websites and use blogs and articles published online, but you’ll have to use discernment and evaluate how reliable they are.

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