No matter the length of the college essay you are writing, you absolutely must bolster your position and your arguments with a plethora of informative and compelling sources. Whether you are writing a research paper, a term paper, an honor’s thesis, or even just a short opinion-based essay, you should always conduct extensive research and find useful, novel evidence to include in your document.
You can really wow you professors and instructors by including research from obscure or academic sources. Most of your peers will locate their research materials by opening a web browser, searching for a few minutes, and saving whatever they can find with minimal effort. But by digging through older and more obscure research materials, you can uncover unfamiliar facts that will put a fascinating spin on your work. You may even be inspired to write about a whole new topic, or take a particularly nuanced and novel position as a result of your research.
For the first few days of the research process, you should resist the urge to open Google and locate easily accessed online results. Instead, head over to your university library and schedule a lengthy appointment with a research librarian. Describe to him or her what your specific research questions are, and what angle you plan to take in your essay. Research librarians have access to a wealth of databases and storerooms filled with research materials few other people know about.
Head to the stacks and research archives and dig through some primary and secondary sources. Consider looking at antique books, old pamphlets, newspaper articles, journals, magazines, and public records such as census data and national surveys. You may even find old diaries, journals, letters, and other personal records that could have a strong influence on your writing. Treat all these sources with care, and take meticulous notes on their content and how they might elevate your essay.
Mold your essay so that it has an appropriate place for your most interesting and striking research results. You should not being writing your paper until several days after you have collected your research, to give your brain time to make sense of it. Craft a paper that incorporates your research results, analyzes it, and builds off of it in a compelling way. If you are uncertain how to tell a good story about your research materials, consult your instructor.