You've been assigned a research paper in History. Now what?
A) Make sure you understand what the assignment is and what your professor wants. If you have questions, ask them! You'll kill two birds with one stone by doing this: 1) you won't be confused when you start your paper; 2) your professor will notice that you're paying attention to the assignment and you might get some brownie points.
B) Read over any notes from class as well as your class textbook on the subject. Look at some basic reference sources, like Credo Reference or online encyclopedias, for a good overview article about your topic.
C) Dig deeper! Since you've been doing a lot of generalized reading what places, people, and years jump out at you? Make a list and use these as good anchors for more in depth research.
D) Find sources by checking the end of the chapter and footnotes for sources of further reading. Use the list of places, people, and years to search in databases for journal articles or find relavant books and ebooks in the library catalog. Keep in mind that not all research is done through books and journals. Historic photographs, films, editorial cartoons, and manuscripts are all resources, too.
E) Are there any themes or motifs that jump out at you from your reading so far? What questions have come up from your reading? Taking good notes at this stage will help you when it comes to writing your paper.
F) Try an outline or actually type out your notes! Instead of staring at a blank screening wondering what you're going to write, quickly type out what you already know. By doing this, you can more easily see your paper's structure and discovery any holes in your research.
G) Proofread and cite! Your paper might be the most amazing paper ever written in the history of mankind; however, if it's rife with spelling and grammatical errors and the citations are incorrect, you're penalizing yourself.
Stereo view depicting the interior of Fort Sumter following the 14 April 1861 surrender of the fort. This picture is attributed to the Charleston photographic establishment of “Osborn & Durbec’s Southern Stereoscopic and Photographic Depot,” operated by James M. Osborn and F.E. Durbec. - From folder 222(b) of Miscellaneous Pictures, #4090, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.