After you've determined the type of research design you will use, but before you sit down and begin to organize your paper, there are few things you should consider doing that will help make the actual writing process go much smoother.
Make a Schedule
If your professor has not already created a schedule to follow in developing and writing your research paper by requiring intermediary deadlines for completing the assignment, then drafting a schedule should be your first step. Drawing from key dates in your class syllabus, write in your calendar when the final paper is due, then work backwards from there.
Choose specific dates for important steps along the way but focus on setting realistic goals, and then sticking to them. Make sure to give yourself enough time to find out what resources are available to you [including meeting with a librarian, if needed], to choose a research problem to investigate, to select and read relevant research literature, to outline your paper, to organize the information you are going to cite in your paper, and to write your first and final drafts [and any necessary drafts in between]. Developing a calendar will also help you manage your time in relation to assignments you receive in other classes.
Analyze the Assignment
Carefully analyze the assignment to determine what you are specifically being asked to do. Look for key terms, topics, subject areas, and/or issues that can help you frame a research problem that interests you. Also, be sure that you understand the type of paper you are being asked to write. Research papers discuss a subject in depth and cite to credible sources that can back up the evidence that you present in arguing a particular perspective.
The way in which your professor may ask you to frame your analysis can include any of the following approaches:
Composing Processes: Planning and Organizing. Writing@CSU. Colorado State University; Invention: Starting the Writing Process. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Invention: Overview of the Writing Process. The Reading/Writing Center. Hunter College; Williams, Joseph M. and Lawrence McEnerney. Writing in College 2: Preparing to Write and Drafting the Paper. Writing Program, The University of Chicago; Prewriting Strategies. Writing Center. University of Kansas; Prewriting Techniques. Hawley Academic Resource and Advising Center. Simpson College.
To make a paper readable:
General mistakes to avoid:
General stylistic and grammatical mistakes to avoid:
In all sections of your paper:
The Guide to Grammar and Writing. Capital Community College Foundation; Grammar. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Writing Tips. Writers Workshop. University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign; Handouts. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina.