Texas Community Colleges
Research Help


General Research and Writing Help

  •  Online Writing Lab (OWL at Purdue) - This site has everything you ever wanted to know about writing papers for class. Click on the Navigation links to see more options. The “Research and Citation” and “Grammar” sections are very helpful.

Successfully Completing Research Assignments

  • Plan Your Time -Assignment Calculator - Not sure where to start your research? Have a procrastination problem? Assignment calculators help you split up and manage your time when you’re researching and writing a paper. You enter in the day that your assignment is due, and the calculator will give you guidelines for researching and writing your paper.

Select and Focus Your Topic

Every class is different. Your instructor may have given you a very specific topic to work with or you could have free reign to make up your own topic from a very general area. In any case, figuring out exactly what you’re going to focus on can be a little tricky sometimes. The following links give you some guidelines on how to select and focus your topic.

This tutorial shares strategies for narrowing wide research topics and using advanced search features to pinpoint documents within your Gale In Context resources:

Write a Working (Preliminary) Thesis

A thesis is a short statement that should capture the main idea or argument of your paper. This sounds pretty easy, but creating a clearly-written thesis takes some time and energy. A working thesis ( which can also be called a preliminary thesis) will help define where you want to go with your paper, and you can revise this thesis as you continue your research and writing. Some useful links for developing working and final thesis statements:

This site includes information about thesis statements and an interactive exercise where you can analyze your own thesis statement:

Plan Your Research Strategy

Everyone chooses to research a little differently, but basically, an effective research strategy can be summed up in two main tasks:

  • identify the terms on which to build your search— what to look for
  • choose the right materials for your assignment (books, newspapers, journals, websites, etc.)

Identifying Terms on Which to Build Your Search

Find, Review, and Evaluate Books

At WTC, you can find books in the library as well as thousands of eBooks through our online catalog. (click the box for Full Text to see the titles we have full access to)

Revise & Rewrite

Concise checklist and revision strategies:

This site explains 12 common mistakes people make in essays and how to avoid them when you revise!

Warning signs of a rushed paper:

Put paper in final form

These tools and tutorials can help your citations and bibliography. However, to make sure that your citations are correct, it’s a good idea to check or refer to the style guide that your instructor is using. Style guides tell you how to format your paper and references. There are several major style guides, each with different rules. Two of the most common ones are:

  • MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 9th ed.
  • Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 7th ed.

Free Online Citation Tools

Follow the directions on these sites for assistance with citing your sources. Remember that it’s always smart to double-check the appropriate manual!

Research Sites for Speeches