1. Compose your research paragraph.
Your paragraph should be structured around a conceptual question that can be answered through research and analysis. The answer to the question (your paper) will help your reader understand something better.
Example: How do Americans try to create micro-uptopias through their landscaping? What does this say about how we manage social appearances.
2. Refine your question by thinking up questions, especially how and why questions.
3. Gather background information and start browsing literature. Use encyclopedias and bibliographies.
4. Compose your annotated bibliography.
5. Decide on a working hypothesis. This will guide your research and writing.
6. Create an outline or storyboard of how your paper will "flow": how you intend to structure your ideas and arguments. These can be moved around as you progress, but help create a "picture" of your paper.
8. Edit. (repeat last two steps until done)