An argumentative research paper is a lot like a regular argumentative or persuasive paper, except for one thing: you need to do more research! While non-research papers allow you to create your own logic and examples, any sort of research paper requires you to go out and find concrete evidence, like statistics and clinical or official studies, in order to back up your claims. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the task, keep the following tips in mind to help make it a little easier for you.
You’ll need to provide concrete evidence for every statement you make, so before you ever put a pen to paper start doing some research! If you have notes about the topic from class, go over those. If it’s a topic you chose yourself, go to the library and take out a couple of books on the subject. You can do an internet search on the subject, as well. It’ll be much easier and less overwhelming to start writing when you already have some background in the subject, and doing this preliminary research will help you find out whether or not you should stick with your topic. If there isn’t much existing literature on your subject, it may be time to reconsider and pick something new.
Write down all your thoughts and ideas about your topic. Jot down the things you think support your stance. The more reasons you can think of to support your argument, the better your paper will be. Once you’ve got a good amount of arguments in your favor, take a second look at what you’ve been reading on the subject, and jot down the factual evidence and statistics that support each claim; make a note of the page number or source, you’ll want to refer back to it as you write!
Never trust Wikipedia to give you the information you need; you can usually trust information that comes from websites ending it “.edu” or “.info”, or sometimes “.org”, but there’s a lot of bad information floating around the internet, so make sure you double-check any statistic or fact you plan to use in your paper against multiple sources. Books are usually more concrete sources, because they go through a lengthy editing process before being published. Any statistics you use should come from a respected source, like a university or professional information-gathering agency. If you’re feeling a little stumped as to where to get good information for your paper, ask your local librarian! They are great at finding good sources.
You don’t have to do this, but it will make your paper much stronger. Don’t try to write a research paper with only one source! Instead, find a multitude of sources that support your argument, and use them all. One study may be biased, but multiple studies on the same topic are sure to be accurate.