Explain the process of researching and writing a research essay, succinctly yet thoroughly, to an imaginary person who has never written one before.
Your focus should be on the research process, prewriting, and citation guidelines.
A good research paper begins with the actual research on the topic. We need to, in effect, become "experts" on our topic and review the various ideas, opinions, facts, etc. that are relevant and appropriate. As we are reading the research we find, we are also taking notes and documenting the important ideas we find. These notes become the prewriting for our own piece of writing.
Our research paper, then, is our synthesis of all that we have read, distilling everything down and eliminating the extraneous into a new piece of writing that credits the ideas and words of others who have informed our opinions.
Intermixed without own ideas are the ideas and words of others. Whether we choose to summarize, paraphrase, or quote directly those ideas, we need to create proper citations and references to document to attribute that work properly.