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Research Tips and Tricks

Examine the Assignment

There are many different types of papers (the above tabs are just a few examples).

Knowing the type of paper you must write will drastically impact possible topics. 

Therefore, the first step in the research process is to determine the type of paper you are expected to write. 

The above paper types are just general explanations; you should always follow guidelines from your professor.

If you need more assistance, please look for the box at the bottom of the menu that says "Instruction Librarian" and click on "email me" or "schedule an appointment."


The argumentative essay is a writing genre that requires the student to investigate a topic, collect, generate, evaluate evidence, and establish a position on the issue concisely.

Argumentative essay assignments generally call for extensive research of literature or previously published material.

Regardless of the amount or type of research involved, argumentative essays must establish a clear thesis and follow sound reasoning.

More in depth information here and here.



The analytic essay goes beyond simple summary and description. Rather than telling the reader the facts of the situation, the analytical essay demands that you examine the information and evaluate it. Put another way, the analytic essay does not merely ask what, where and when; it asks why and how.

More in depth information here.


A compare and contrast paper is a rhetorical style that discusses the similarities and differences of two or more things: ideas, concepts, items, places, etc. 


More in depth information here and here.




Cause and effect is a rhetorical style that discusses which events lead to specific results. 

A cause and effect essay is structured around discovering and discussing events that lead to specific results. When writing a cause and effect essay, you should be sure that you have researched the particular causes and are confident that you’re demonstrating why they lead to specific results. You may either concentrate on all causes, effects or a combination of both.

More in depth information here.


A literature review is a systematic review of the published literature on a specific topic or research question. 

The literature review is designed to analyze-- not just summarize-- scholarly writings related directly to your research question. It represents the literature that provides background information on your topic and shows a correspondence between those writings and your research question.

More in depth information here.


An annotated bibliography includes a summary and/or evaluation of each of the sources. Depending on your project or the assignment, your annotations may do one or more of the following.

  • Summarize: Some annotations merely summarize the source. What are the main arguments? What is the point of this book or article? What topics are covered? If someone asked what this article/book is about, what would you say? The length of your annotations will determine how detailed your summary is.
  • Assess: After summarizing a source, it may be helpful to evaluate it. Is it a useful source? How does it compare with other sources in your bibliography? Is the information reliable? Is this source biased or objective? What is the goal of this source?
  • Reflect: Once you've summarized and assessed a source, you need to ask how it fits into your research. Was this source helpful to you? How does it help you shape your argument? How can you use this source in your research project? Has it changed how you think about your topic?

Your annotated bibliography may include some of these, all of these, or even others. If you're doing this for a class, you should get specific guidelines from your instructor.


Samples in each citation style can be found here.


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