Go to the Library!
How should I go about researching a paper?
Do not write a research paper on something others have already done. It is imperative to find out what is already written about the topic, and then think outside the box for a new research approach. Higher education wants students to come up with their own way of thinking and fresh new ideas not just reinventing the same old wheel.
Follow the professors outline
It all depends on the subject matter. A Google search will surely help - but under NO circumstances should you plagiarizer someone's else's work!
Rather than doing a general Internet search, scope out your thesis and supporting ideas. Next, use that thesis as the basis for a search. Seek some strong primary sources; sometimes these sources are mentioned at the end of an article you find interesting. If your college has a good library or archives, use that if appropriate, The Internet is full of good nontraditional sources, such as newsfeeds and interviews. However, choose your sources wisely. Don't hesitate to conduct interviews of your own.
Use your college's library resources -- and I do not mean books! University libraries are amazing places with amazing people. Often University librarians can literally teach you how to do research through various orientations and programs. Aside from learning how to research a paper, if you learn how to use your college library resources and online tools well, then you will also have developed a very important skill set for all sorts of things in life -- including perhaps a future job.
The library. Yes, there is a reason why it’s still around. As hard as it is to believe, some books and documents have not yet gone digital. In some cases, you will just have to suck it up and head over to the library to look things up by hand. That little extra effort will impress professors who still enjoy a bit of old-fashioned research. They have fond memories of the hours and hours they spent at the library during their undergrad years. Why not humor them a little? And maybe being surrounded by books and your fellow hard-working students will give you a little extra motivation.
Here’s the good news: You’ve got at your fingertips access to practically unlimited information and the opinions of numerous geniuses and academics. The bad news is the thin line between utilizing the Internet as a valuable resource and plain old plagiarism. There is a right way to use the Internet without pissing off your professors. Wikipedia is good if you’re looking something up in order to settle a bet, but not so much for a research paper. Instead, try using databases like Lexis-Nexis, Factiva, and JSTOR. Lexis-Nexis searches newspapers and magazines, as well as legal documents, which will give you access to the vaunted primary sources that your professors love so much. Resources like these are criminally underused by students at most colleges. You’re paying enough in tuition, so why not use this amazing resource to get yourself a solid A?
The first step toward researching well is having good study habits, and when it comes to studying, consistency is key. Yes, unfortunately that means keeping up with the readings and taking notes in class. Knowing the subject matter will make the time you spend on research more efficient. It’s also a surefire way to get a head start on your fellow students when finals time rolls around. Your ten-minute attention span is no longer an excuse: Some studies show that the best way to retain information is by studying in small doses during the day. This may seem tedious and, at times, needless. But think of it like this: Pro athletes run drills and plays in practice hundreds and hundreds of times to perfect their skills. The same mentality rings true for academics. You’re just preparing yourself for game time--also known as papers, projects, and finals.
Researching a paper is typically dictated by the guidelines of the instructor, therefore I would schedule an appointment with my instructor for clarification on exactly what approach or method they are expecting.