Most university courses involve some sort of extended writing assignment, usually in the form of a research paper. Long after you leave college, you will continue learning about the world and its vast complexities.Papers normally require that a student identify a broad area of research related to the course, focus the topic through some general background reading, identify a clear research question, marshal primary and secondary resources to answer the question, and present the argument in a clear and creative manner, with proper citations. There is no better way to hone the skills of life-long learning than by writing individual research papers.requires the author to do no more than list facts and datesa good encyclopedia entry, maybe, but not a good research paper.
From the outset, keep in mind one important point: Writing a research paper is in part about learning how to teach yourself.
The process forces you to ask good questions, find the sources to answer them, present your answers to an audience, and defend your answers against detractors.
Follow up the suggested reading on the course syllabus or the footnotes or bibliographies of the texts you are reading for the course.
After that, speak with the professor about some of your general ideas and the possible research directions you are thinking about pursuing.
Say you want to write a paper on the causes of Communisms demise in eastern Europe. Or say you want to write about how conceptions of national identity have changed in Britain since the 1980s.
You would begin by reading some general secondary sources on the collapse of Communism, from which you might surmise that two factors were predominant: economic problems of Communist central planning and Mikhail Gorbachevs reforms in the Soviet Union. In this case, you might examine the speeches of British political leaders, editorials in major British newspapers, and voting support for the Scottish National Party or other regional parties.Research questions that do not require an argument are just bad questions.For example, a paper on What happened during the Mexican revolution?How do different electoral systems affect the behavior of political parties?The point is that you should attempt to identify either: Professional social scientistshistorians, political scientists, sociologists, international affairs expertswork on both these kinds of questions.There are, however, gradations of primary evidence.The best sources are those in original languages that are linked to persons directly involved in the event or development that you are researching.Why does a specific aspect of politics work as it does?How has a social or political phenomenon changed from one period to another? Why have some countries been more successful in the transition from Communism than others?In your research, you should endeavor to get as close as possible to the events or phenomena you are studying.But, of course, no one can speak every language and interview every participant in a political or social event.