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How to Write a College Research Paper

While many college classes end with a final exam, some professors choose to assign papers. This often seems like a blessings, until you have procrastinated the assignment to the last minute. Here is how to write an 8-10 page paper in 3 days.



Professors may assign specific sources, such as a website or textbook, or you may be free to use GoogleScholar, government websites, university websites, the library or WorldCat.



No matter where you get your sources from, it is important to organize the evidence to be used in your paper.

1. Write the quote, paraphrase, or summary on a large index card.

2. Then, label each index card by topic / section of your paper.

3. Next, number the cards in each section based on when they will appear in your paper.

4. Be sure to cite the source used on the back of each card.

5. Lastly, make notes on each card on how the information will be used.

Try to use at least 12 sources.



There are two types of outlines one can use for writing paper. Rather than using one or the other, take the time to use them both.


1. Start with a basic outline.

  • Label the intro, body and conclusion
  • Put a thesis idea under the introduction
  • Put at least three main paragraphs under body
  • Leave nothing under conclusion for now
  • Put the main citations of evidence into the sections they will be used
  • Continue to flesh this out with ideas, make sure not to use sentences

2. Next, the sentence outline

  • Work from your basic outline and your notecards
  • Write a complete thesis under the introduction section
  • In each body section, type the exact quotes or evidence to be used
  • Under these pieces of evidence, use complete sentences to explain how they support your argument
  • Under conclusion, write thoughtful questions related to your thesis





o   Copy and paste the Sentence Outline into your final document.

o   Remove the outline format, and organize into paragraphs.

o   Go through each paragraph, and add an introductory sentence that connects the paragraph’s main idea back to your thesis.

o   Next add a transition sentence to the end of each paragraph.

o   Continue to flesh out the paper until it is the proper length.



o   Format as instructed by your professor.

o   Be sure to end your conclusion by leaving your audience with a question to encourage further curiosity concerning the subject.


I am a sophomore at West Virginia University. I am majoring in English and History, with hopes of becoming a professor or a lawyer. On campus I am a member of Alpha Omicron Pi, the Honors College, and of course Her Campus! In my free time, I can be found cooking, reading, and playing with my guinea pigs.
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