Next at tips for writing essays comes doing research.
After the topic has been chosen, the next logical step is to gather relevant, accurate and updated information mainly through the wonders of research. Keep in mind that information can make or break your essay in the sense that it forms the foundation upon which your introduction, body and conclusion rests on. The more reliable your information, the more you can achieve the purpose of your essay, be it persuasive, descriptive and comparative.
The first step in research is to gather general background information on the topic. This way, you can absorb the basics before tackling the meatier parts of the topic, which should provide a deeper sense of appreciation for the importance of the essay. Plus, it will form the introduction to the essay.
Background information can be secured from general reference materials like the dictionary, encyclopedia and other reference sources. Needless to say, organized notes must be taken of the ideas culled from said preliminary research.
In this case, appropriately labeled index cards will be of great help. Be sure to label the cards with the topic, the title of the book including page numbers, and quotations directly taken from the sources.
Then move on into the specific and specialized sources, which will often form the basis for the essay's body. Think along the lines of statistics, recent developments and future directions as the direct players of the topic sees them.
You can choose from books, journals and periodicals, trade literature and pamphlets, government papers and private research documents, and the Internet. To separate the wheat from the chaff early on, so to speak, you should adopt the SQR principle - survey, question, read, recall and review.
To briefly describe this technique: Survey means evaluation of the relevance of the book to your purpose. Question refers to your expectations. Read pertains to finding the strongest arguments necessary to support your thesis. Recall means to go through the information just gathered without referring to your notes. Review refers to the evaluation of the notes in case something was overlooked.
Once you have your indexed notes in hand, the time to truly separate the wheat from the chaff is at hand. You have to discard the trivial data and make final notes on the authoritative information, which will further streamline your essay.
Each source has its merits, of course, so comparisons on an equal footing may not be possible. Instead, you should stick to the general rules that publications more than 15 years old are less reliable than newer ones unless you are delving into the history of the essay topic; that primary sources are always better than secondary references; and that trade and science journals are more reliable than magazine publications on the studies conducted about the central idea.
Through all the process of doing your research, it is important to keep detailed notes. Keep in mind that you will be referring to these notes in essay writing, not to mention that you may have to use direct quotations for greater effect. Thus, the more organized, detailed and reliable your information is, the better for your essay purposes.
Doing research is an indispensable part of essay writing, be it one of just a page or plenty of pages. So, get organized now and get reading.