At a point in your academic career, you will find yourself faced with the challenge of coming up with a research paper which is a major contributor to your grade. Writing a research paper does not always have to be a nightmare for a student, as long as the correct procedure is followed. Knowledge and facts are not the only contributing factors to a good research paper. You should adopt a positive attitude when it comes to dealing with any piece of academic writing and believe that you have what it takes to write an A+ research paper.
Tips for Writing a Research Paper
1. Choose a Topic
Before you begin to write anything, you must choose a topic. This is the first important step in research paper writing because the topic you choose is a major determinant of whether you will have the drive to write a winning paper. It is always advisable to select a topic that you know you feel passionate towards. Choose a topic that you feel challenges you and is intriguing at the same time. It should also be unique and have enough information readily available for use. If you have any arising questions, feel free to approach your Professor to seek necessary clarifications.
2. Conduct Some Research
Having come up with a topic you find interesting, you can move on to the next step. Finding information to build your research paper is the next step. It is always advisable to start any academic writing within a reasonable time towards the deadline to avoid last-minute rushes. An early start also gives you ample time to conduct all the necessary research which you require to come up with that research paper.
Use any academic material to your advantage to come up with necessary information. The internet and library are the very first places students rely on when it comes to conducting research and gathering information. While conducting research, ensure that you jot down important points and arrange them so that they can be of assistance to you when you move on to the next step.
3. Come Up with a Thesis Statement
A thesis statement explains the main aim of your research paper to the audience. Everything else you write in the body of the research paper should build upon your thesis statement. Think of it as a question which your essay is going to be answering. Ensure that you keep the statement short and precise. It should not exceed two sentences, and it should be included in the first sentence of the introductory paragraph.
4. Make an Outline
Once you have exhausted the research section and you have written down important points and summarized them, you can come up with an outline of the research paper. This is like mapping out how your paper will be written. You can decide which points are going to be the main ones and which ones will help in building upon the paper. You can also decide on which ones to be included as the introduction part of the paper, which ones will make up the body of the research paper, and which ones are going to come at the conclusion of the paper mainly known as the closing statement. Ensure to include the references to the points while at this step to help make work easier as you continue. Your outline should be arranged in the format in which the research paper will follow; it should also build upon your thesis statement and target to answer the lingering questions to help the audience relate to your thesis statement.
5. Consider the Audience
Always remember to ask yourself who your target audience is. They must be able to feel that they relate to the subject of the research paper and to understand the aim of the research paper. If you feel that a certain point will not be clearly understood, ensure that you break it down to something that they can easily comprehend. You should be able to show that you understand the purpose of the paper from their point of view.
6. Writing the Research Paper
Having taken all the above steps, you can now move on to the writing process in your research paper. Your outline should act as the main guide to helping you write the paper.
The introduction should include the thesis statement at the beginning of the paragraph to help guide the audience on which issues you will be tackling on your research paper. You should use the main points in your outline as the guiding factors on what should come first and to also help support your thesis statement. Remember to include evidence to back up your claims. Ensure that you offer enough clarification where necessary to help your audience understand and relate better.
Your research paper should feel like it is building with every main point that you include. Where necessary every paragraph should target a single main point and elaborate on it before moving on to the next one. Again, remember to include evidence form your research back up your claims.
The conclusion should wrap up the whole research paper. It should briefly summarize your findings for the audience and provide some form of closure. Briefly restate the thesis statement and show the points you covered in the course of the research paper. Remember to keep it short and straight-to-the-point. Do not forget to include the references once you have finished writing the research paper
7. Proof-reading and Editing
Having followed all the steps above, you can move on to the final phase of the research paper.
Re-read the paper as many times as you feel necessary to ensure that everything feels well engineered. This does not have to be the final draft of the research paper; you can always re-write it to ensure that you have followed the correct formatting and outline you created earlier. Play around with the ideas you have and move a few points around until you feel fully satisfied with the final draft.
While at this, you should check on the grammar and punctuation to further perfect your work and also ensure the tenses are in the correct form.
You can request a person who you feel is qualified to help you with the editing and proof-reading step to further perfect the paper.
What is Research?
§ Peer-reviewed academic/scientific journals
§ Data provided in government reports (from research that is soundly conducted)
§ Well-established business/news publications (Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, New York Times, Time).
§ Facts/Statistics that have sources that can be substantiated/confirmed.
§ Primary source data – defined as first-hand testimony or direct evidence concerning a particular topic.
§ Try InfoTrac, Lexis/Nexis, Psychinfo (for a start).
§ For help, ask one of our 23,488,987 librarians.
§ Encyclopedia Britannica (okay for background information, but dated)
Not Legitimate Research
§ Sources with an agenda
§ Ask.com and others like this cite
§ Video and interviews
§ Questionable websites (just because it’s on the Internet doesn’t “mean it’s RESEARCH!!”)
Any non-legitimate references/sources will be immediately dismissed!!
1. It is better to over-reference than under-reference. Newer references are preferred all things considered.
2. Don’t cut and paste! Ever! Never Ever!!
3. Definitions…reference needed.
4. Statistics…reference needed.
5. Not your idea…reference needed.
6. “According to Curly Howard…” reference needed.
7. The world changes quickly – think in current terms. Old research is like old spaghetti, really old spaghetti!
8. Keep referencing/bibliography/footnoting style accurate and consistent.
9. Go easy on the quotes. One per page is probably pushing it.
Just a Recap:
1. Choose a topic
2. Conduct research
3. Come up with a thesis statement
4. Make an outline
5. Consider the audience
6. Write the paper
7. Proof-read and edit