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How to write a graduate-level essay

Step-by-step guidance and resources for planning, researching, and writing essays as a graduate student.

Getting started with research

What kind of research do you need to do?

Man writing in a notebook with a laptop next to him on a tableBefore you start searching for literature on your topic, determine the type of paper you will be writing. See Essays for more information.

  • If you are writing an analytical paper, a compare and contrast paper, or an argumentative persuasive essay, then you will require published literature to support your argument or comparison. This section of the guide is for you!
  • If you are writing a personal reflective essay, you may have little to no research to do as this type of essay typically requires you to write from personal experience. Jump to Step 5: Finalize Your Document Plan.
  • If the paper you are preparing to write will require you to gather data by conducting your own research (e.g. conducting surveys or interviews), the Research Methods guide provides related resources that are available in the Library's collection.

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What's in this section

Research your topic

Researching published literature is a complex task that you will need to master in order to complete your graduate work. Although it's just one step in the essay-writing process, it deserves some dedicated attention. The following subpages will help you explore each step in the research process: