When you are tasked with writing an academic research paper, there are a few things you need to remember:
First of all, you need to review your assignment details. Far too many students fail to properly look over the assignment details and end up missing something minor. And that minor mistake is what leads to a lower grade. For example: take note of how many sources you need. Do not miss the limit for minimum number of sources and let your grade suffer. Another example is failing to see the word count, the page limit, or any restrictions on the topic. If you take a moment to properly review the assignment details you can look for any restricting elements like “compare OR contrast” versus “compare AND contrast” or “between chapter 10-13”. These restrictions are imperative to the success of your academic research paper.
If you are given the opportunity to select a topic yourself, make sure that the topic you choose is something that is interesting for you. Try and think back to arguments or debates that you have had with other friends or classmates. Consider debatable topics that are of interest to you. What do you argue about most with family? What social issues are most important to you? What gets your blood boiling? The answers to these questions may very well be the topic you want.
Use all of the resources you have for your research. You can use the internet to conduct a generic background check on your topic and to familiarize yourself with the foundational elements, but after that, you should stick to only highly academic and reputable sources for the information you use. You want to integrate data and quotes from experts in the field, but you also want to prevent your paper from looking like you just copied the work from other writers. Limit the number of quotes you have to no more than 10% of your total paper.
Make sure you present your data in whatever format is required. If you are asked to write in APA format, then make sure you know what headings and subheadings are required for APA format. If you are asked to write a paper in MLA, make sure you cite your sources correctly. All of this can bring down your grade significantly if missed.