Research papers require you to write about a subject using information you gather from outside sources. These types of assignments may also be called term papers, informative or analytical reports, or case studies.

When you write a research paper, imagine yourself as a scientist or an investigative reporter trying to uncover the facts. You must remain objective and not form an opinion or force the information to fit your preconceived ideas. Remember that you are engaged in a search to find the answer to the question, "What is the truth about this subject?"

Writing a research paper requires that you gather information and organize that information until a picture begins to emerge. You might think of research or analytical writing as a jigsaw puzzle in which you search for pieces of a puzzle and put them together in a logical way to form a conclusion. Research papers also require you to critically evaluate an issue or to compare two or more theories or systems. You may start out with an idea of what you think you might find (called a hypothesis), but you must keep an open mind, suspend judgment, follow the evidence, and see where it leads you.

When you write a research paper, your purpose is to share with readers the information you found in outside sources about your topic. As a scientist or an investigator, you simply report the facts; you do not add your personal opinion. In this type of writing, the conclusion you reach is the one supported by the facts you found in your research. Here is an example of a paragraph from this type of paper.

Growing summer vegetables in the Pacific Northwest is challenging. Tomatoes, for example, thrive in warm weather, and most do not fare well when nighttime temperatures fall below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. [Include source of information here in APA style.] Pacific Northwest summer evening temperatures are often below this threshold. Only about two weeks of the year can gardeners count on nighttime temperatures consistently above 55 degrees. [Include source of information here in APA style.] However, gardeners can have success if they choose the right tomato varieties for this climate and correctly time the planting of their tomato seedlings.