When you outline your main ideas, putting them in a specific order is important. Place your strongest points at the beginning and end of your essay, with more mediocre points placed in the middle or near the end of your essay.
Any information that doesn’t fit within the framework of your outline, and doesn’t directly support your thesis statement, no matter how interesting, doesn’t belong in your research paper. Keep your focus narrow and avoid the kitchen sink approach. (You know, the one where you throw in every bit of interesting research you uncovered, including the fungal growth in the U-joint of your kitchen sink?) Everything you learn may be fascinating, but not all of it is going to be relevant to your paper.
Avoid using many long, direct quotes. Although your paper is based on research, the point is for you to present your own ideas. Unless the quote you intend on using is absolutely necessary, try paraphrasing and analyzing it in your own words instead.
Take a trip to your local library or university library. Although it may seem old fashioned, libraries are chock full of helpful research materials from books to newspapers and magazines to journals. Don’t be afraid to ask the librarian for help either - they are trained in research and know where everything about your topic is located.