You must refine a topic before heading to the library or quickly decide when beginning your research what facet of your topic you want to hone in on.
1. Start out at the library. Academic, county, and city libraries offer journals, nonfiction and fiction books, and magazines among other things. Read up on a variety of different aspects associated with your topic so you can get a good understanding of it and possibly find alternative ways to detail your main point.
2. Use the Internet. Use www.google.com when starting out. Look up words at www.dictionary.com. Find out facts about local and state government at www.illinois.gov. Read about health at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's Web site: www.cdc.gov. Look at the most recent Census findings about income and housing at www.census.gov. Or peruse through the latest Gallup polls at www.gallup.com.
3. Interview experts. If you are writing about low-carbohydrate diets, interview a dietician, or a veterinarian for information on low-carb pet food. Interview a professor of political science about a current event. Interview your grandmother about living through the Depression.
Synthesize all the information you have collected and present it in a clear, concise manner. Many writers find it helpful to begin with an outline. As always, consider your audience and tone before beginning to write and make sure you address those concerns during all stages of the writing process.
While writing, make sure to support your thesis with evidence. Present your information in a clear and concise manner. Your first draft should be longer than you intend so you can go back later and cut pieces out and/or add information where needed.
Make sure to leave time to proofread your work and go over any gaps in your presentation of ideas and information. Also, make sure your paper has subject-verb agreement, a clear thesis with supporting paragraphs, active (versus passive) voice, a conclusion. Reconsider your audience and the tone you use. Is it offensive? Are you generalizing? Do you have transitions or are there awkward breaks between paragraphs? Are your sentences varied? Do you document all your information correctly? Do you use commas, semicolons, and apostrophes correctly throughout? Did you put enough research into the paper? Proofreading is one of the most important parts of the writing process - make sure you do not neglect it.