College-level instructors of all disciplines often choose—and, in the case of many first-year seminars, might be required—to assign research papers. Students and instructors alike are tempted to regard the research paper as a species entirely different from other writing assignments. While the research paper introduces additional skills such as library navigation and source documentation, designing a research assignment still requires instructors to work backwards from goals and to establish a rhetorical context that addresses goals and connects the assignment to the class as a whole.
That being said, an awareness of the particular challenges students might encounter in conducting and communicating research will help us address those challenges and enhance students' research writing experience.
The following sections contain suggestions on guiding students through the research writing process.