A research paper is an expanded essay that presents your own interpretation or evaluation or argument. When you write an essay, you use everything that you personally know and have thought about a subject. When you write a research paper you build upon what you know about the subject and make a deliberate attempt to find out what experts know. A research paper involves surveying a field of knowledge in order to find the best possible information in that field. And that survey can be orderly and focused, if you know how to approach it. Do not worry--you would not get lost in a sea of sources.
Whenever possible, look for peer-reviewed empirical research. These are articles or books written by experts in your field of interest, whose work has been read and vouched for by other experts in the same field. These can be found in scientific journals or via an online search.
Every type has a different aim. An argumentative work has to show a few sides of a particular issue and provides arguments in favor of one of them, a definition project aims to provide a clear explanation and analysis of one specific matter. Cause and effect research paper writing requires you to present a logical chain of causes and effects that relate to the selected issue, while reports simply outline a study (or studies) that were conducted previously. Interpretive papers are similar to definition ones. Compare and contrast ones, as a rule, describe the same issue from the perspectives of two different authors (scientists), while analytical research paper writing requires you to create a deep analytics of various opinions regarding the same issue.
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.