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I want to talk today about how to start a research paper writing. Research papers are different from most other kinds of papers because you’re trying to have an argument for yourself and really looking for something to say from your own point of view so you’re not trying to just describe something or compare something.

You’re really trying to find something out and answer a certain question have an argument for yourself best place to start is starting with what you already know so if you’re given a certain topic say the Zapatista uprising in Mexico in 1994 that’s still a very broad topic and you’re going to need to narrow it down because otherwise you could end up with a 15-page paper. Just explaining the events that happened that’s not a research paper.

Start writing out what you already know maybe you know nothing and that’s okay but think about other things that you do know about other cases of rebellions maybe or if you’re viewing. If you’re talking about a certain book what are some other authors that have written things that might be similar starting with what you do know will kind of help get you thinking before you start reading things so think about other things that connect to your topic not just the topic itself.

The next thing you need to think about is what your sources will be now there’s two types of sources there is primary sources and they’re secondary sources there are other kinds but for our purposes today we just need to think about primary and secondary sources a primary source is something that was written at the time that something occurred or somebody with direct knowledge of the thing so this would be newspapers, this would be journals letters, anything that was written at the time of something happening or somebody with first-hand knowledge.

A secondary source is things like articles, books, journals, magazines anything that was produced after something and somebody who’s looking at something and writing about it not just writing about themselves with their own experience but looking usually looking back and bringing in other research and talking about that as well secondary sources are great to help provide context for your own arguments and they’re also great to help give you some background knowledge.

Before you start up looking at a topic in that way secondary sources can actually be a really good place to start primary sources are usually what form the meat of your argument however so if you’re looking at an example would be school curriculums in the 1960s and what types of things were being taught in American or Canadian classrooms you might want to start with those direct sources.