If you’re a college student, you have asked yourself how do write a research paper at least once. As a student, you’ll almost certainly be required to write at least one college-level research paper before graduating. If you’ve never written a research paper before, it can be intimidating. We’re here to assist you.
This book will help you through every step of writing an effective, impactful research paper… and getting the grade you want!
Here are the processes and materials you’ll need to compose a quality research report, as well as a checklist to make sure you’ve done everything correctly. Research writing might be difficult, but with some experience, it can become a valuable tool in your academic and professional toolset. Purdue University is another great source for writing a research paper.
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Step 1: Become acquainted with the assignment
This may seem self-evident, but understanding what your teacher or professor is looking for before you begin writing your research paper is critical. Many students miss this step and then wonder why they received a low grade on a paper that they worked hard on and were enthusiastic about. It’s usually due to a failure to read the directions.
Spend some time reviewing the task. Examine everything your instructor has given you. Read the writing assignment, prompts, grading rubric, and any other materials you’ve been given very carefully. Highlighting and taking notes on the assignment may also be beneficial. Take some time to figure out what you’re supposed to write and how you’ll be judged on it. And if you’re unsure, just ask! Before you choose a topic, seek clarification from your teacher. You’ll know you’re on the correct track if you do it this way.
Step 2: Select a Subject
It’s time to determine what to write about in your research paper now that you know what you’re supposed to write about. This can be intimidating, but don’t get too worked up over it. Writing about something you’re interested in or passionate about can be really beneficial, but don’t worry about coming up with the right topic. In many circumstances, a contentious topic is good since it allows you to practice objectively explaining opposing viewpoints and even defending one if the task requires it.
Use your instructor’s suggestions to help you choose a topic for your paper. Choose another topic if you have a favorite but are having problems fitting it into the guidelines. It will be easier for you to write on a topic that is relevant to the task in the long run. It’s crucial to be interested in the issue you’re writing about, but it’s not necessary to adore it. It’s also important to remember that you can use your research writing assignment to learn something new. By the end of this procedure, you should have a good understanding of the subject, but you don’t have to know everything right now.
Step 3: Look up The Savvy Student’s Guide to Study Skills on the internet.
And now comes the part you’ve all been waiting for: research! This step is somewhat adaptable; different persons will conduct their research for a paper in various ways. However, it’s critical to remain concentrated and move rapidly. After all, you still have a research paper to write.
When doing research, keep in mind to 1) skim, 2) identify credible sites, and 3) don’t overlook material.
First and foremost, skimming. You don’t have to read everything that has ever been written about your issue in detail. You probably won’t be able to. Get used to skimming through information rapidly. Learn how to recognize significant ideas and arguments without becoming engrossed in reading every single word.
Next, look for trustworthy sources. Although it may go against what you’ve been told, you can create a research paper using Wikipedia. However, you cannot rely on it as a final source. You can use generic sources like Wikipedia to familiarize yourself with a topic, identify keywords that will help you expand your study, and swiftly comprehend enormous amounts of data. However, you must discover reputable sources for the information you use in your paper.
Dig deeper into what you’ve learnt from a Google search or a Wikipedia article. Examine the article’s sources, use keywords from your internet search to search an academic database, or ask an expert whether what you discovered is true and, if so, where you can locate a reputable source that says the same thing. To be clear, you can utilize Wikipedia as a beginning point for your study, but you should not use Wikipedia as one of your research paper’s key sources.
Finally, information should not be overlooked. You can write an article that says whatever you want. Did scientists recently uncover that octopus DNA is made up of extraterrestrial DNA? Are the spires on Disney World’s Cinderella Castle detachable in the event of a hurricane? Is it true that a cook tried to murder George Washington by poisoning him with tomatoes? Although you can discover publications claiming that all three of the foregoing statements are true, digging deeper reveals that they are untrue. Just because one article claims that something is true, does not mean that it is a confirmed truth that you may utilize in your research.
Work to comprehend all of the various points of view and schools of thought on your subject. This can be accomplished by reading a variety of articles, reading a book or article that provides an overview of the topic and includes several points of view, or speaking with an expert who can explain the topic in greater depth.
Step 4: Put Your Research in Order
So now that you have all of this data, what do you do with it? The fourth step entails getting organized. Varied people have different preferences in this area, just as they do in research. It may also be determined by the nature of your assignment. When it comes to arranging your research, a bibliography (meaning “book writing,” this is a list of the books, periodicals, and other sources you’ve used) is helpful.
If your professor requires you to submit a bibliography with your research paper (remember step #1; you should already know what the assignment is!) Make a bibliography that satisfies the paper’s standards. Consider how you’d like to organize your research if you’re just building one for yourself. It could be a good idea to save resources to your browser’s bookmarks or create a digital bibliography that allows you to link the materials you find. You may choose a written list of your materials, or you may prefer to jot down everything you’ve learned that’s pertinent to your assignment on notecards or sticky notes, and then arrange your research paper on a table or the floor.
Step 5: Form a Thesis
You’re ready to express your own opinion, argument, or claim now that you know what you’ve been asked to do, that you’ve picked a topic that suits the assignment, and that you’ve researched and structured that information. Your paper needs a thesis even if you aren’t arguing for or against anything. A thesis is a concise statement that you, as the researcher and author, make for the readers of your work to explain or prove what you’re attempting to say.
When creating a thesis, a good place to start is with a one-sentence answer to the question, “What is your paper about?” The following are some instances of possible responses:
- The bond between dogs and humans is explained in my paper.
- It has to do with university policies about freshman residing on campus.
- I wrote on Jane Austen’s ideas on marriage in Pride and Prejudice.
That wasn’t so difficult, after all. It’s crucial to realize, though, that this is only the beginning. Many students stop just there and don’t understand why their thesis statement received a poor grade from their instructor. A thesis must be conclusive, and it must not be about you. As a result, you might substitute statements like:
Canines and humans have a symbiotic relationship; not only are they man’s best friend, but human interactions have affected modern dogs’ behavior and anatomy.
Freshmen students at many institutions are required to reside on campus for their first year, which keeps them out of trouble, helps them achieve better marks, and boosts their chances of staying in school.
Marriage is viewed in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice as a social mobility tool, a mistake, and a beneficial union, among other things.
Can you spot the distinctions between the first and second sets of thesis statements? Working to delete terms and phrases like “I believe” and “My paper is about” may take a few tries.
It’s also crucial to avoid being overly ambiguous. Don’t be afraid to make a bold claim. If you look at the samples above, you’ll notice that each one makes a distinct argument regarding the subject. Another important aspect of writing a great thesis statement is ensuring that it is debatable. That doesn’t mean it’s controversial or strongly held, but it does indicate the possibility of disagreement.
Someone might argue, for example, that humans haven’t had much of an impact on dogs, that forcing freshmen to live on campus isn’t a smart idea, or that marriage in Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is all about romance.
(Another technique to see if your claim is debatable is to see if Pride and Prejudice is a book.) Yes. As a result, the thesis “Pride and Prejudice is a novel authored by Jane Austen” fails since no one could disagree. It’s pointless to devote an entire essay to that simple fact.) Checking to see if your thesis statement might be contested is a fantastic technique to ensure you’ve prepared a solid, detailed thesis statement that will lead you while you write your paper and get you a decent mark.
This is another time to consult with your professor, a writing center tutor, or another trusted educator or mentor after you’ve worked hard to develop a distinct, arguable, and definite thesis statement. Show them your thesis statement and ask whether they believe it’s a strong enough thesis to use as a foundation for your essay.
Step 6: Creating an Outline
The way you write your outline, like a bibliography, may be determined by your assignment. If your teacher has requested that you submit an outline, make sure it matches the example, guidelines, or requirements provided. Even if you are not required to produce an outline, it can be a useful tool in the development of your research paper.
It’s all about structuring your paper when you make an outline. Don’t be overly formulaic, but following patterns and guides might be beneficial. You may have written three- or five-paragraph essays in high school, and it’s fine to utilize the same patterns for a college research paper; however, make sure that the structure you choose is appropriate for your project. Three or five primary sections could not work for your research paper if your thesis only has two main ideas. If the assignment requires you to introduce a topic, describe several viewpoints on the topic, and then choose and explain your own viewpoint, your paper will most likely include three primary sections, one for each of those goals.
Consider what you’re trying to explain or communicate in your research paper and what format will allow you to do it in a clear, structured manner when you create an outline. It’s common to have an introduction and a conclusion, but what happens in between depends on the subject of your essay.
When you’re formulating your argument, it’s a good idea to think about what kinds of arguments you should avoid. Take some time to review the most prevalent logical fallacies if you are unfamiliar with them; your grade may depend on it!
Step 7: Write
Finally, it’s time to sit down and compose your paper. You may feel as though you should have begun writing sooner, but don’t worry: the work you’ve done thus far is crucial. It will assist you in writing a research paper that is strong, clear, and intriguing.
Don’t be a perfectionist when you’re writing. Don’t stress about finding the perfect words, correcting your language, or coming up with the perfect title. As you revise, there is still time to perfect your research paper. Right now, all you have to do is write.
It’s a good idea to go over your research before you begin writing, but don’t write directly from it. It’s simple to duplicate ideas without really developing your own work if you’re looking back and forth between your materials and your paper as you start writing. You’ve already put in a lot of effort, so believe it and compose your research paper from memory. It’s fine to check up a specific phrase or statistic, but at this stage, your thoughts should be entirely your own.
Avoiding plagiarism is easier when you work from your own ideas. Plagiarism is the uncredited use of another person’s words or ideas, whether or not you intended to do so. This may appear frightening, but it does not have to be. You may be certain that you’ve written your own essay that builds on the ideas, writing, and effort of others without stealing, duplicating, or plagiarizing if you follow the procedures given in this article.
You must cite your source if you quote something verbatim. Use quotation marks and credit the quote’s source. On a Works Cited or References page, you’ll also need to give further details on the quote. It’s still necessary to provide credit if you paraphrase, that is, if you don’t use the same words but do use someone’s idea. You don’t need to use quotation marks here, but it’s crucial to acknowledge the source of the notion.
You don’t have to say where an idea comes from if it’s a common fact (usually acknowledged if you can find the fact expressed, without attribution, in three or more reliable sources). Bill Gates, for example, is a multibillionaire who built Microsoft. That is a well-known truth that may be found in a variety of reliable sources. However, if your paper is about why Bill Gates is so wealthy, famous, and successful, you’ll need to credit and cite particular quotes and figures, as well as theories regarding why the Microsoft billionaire is so successful.
Step 8: Content Editing
Take a minute to congratulate yourself now that you’ve completed your paper. You’ve put forth a lot of effort to get here! Get back to work after that. Your paper still has to be edited before it can be sent in. Remember how you were told not to be concerned about being perfect? You don’t need to be concerned, but now is the moment to make your paper as great as possible.
Begin with content editing. This entails considering the structure, organization, phrasing, and length of the document. When you made an outline, you meticulously ordered your paper. Is that organization still logical now that you’ve finished your paper? If that’s the case, congratulations. What do you need to get around if you don’t have a car? Take a close look at how you’ve phrased your statements. Did you get across what you wanted to say? Is there any way you might make your paper more clear or understandable? It’s also an excellent time to reflect on Step 1. Is your paper complete in terms of the requirements of the assignment? If not, where may the missing pieces be added?
If your paper is excessively lengthy or short, now is the moment to shorten it or lengthen it to a suitable length. If your paper is too long, don’t merely delete the conclusion. Don’t waste time experimenting with font sizes and margins in an attempt to lengthen your article. These modifications should be done with care and consideration. What should you cut and how can you re-organize your document so that it maintains a solid structure if you need to remove something? If you need to make your paper longer, don’t just add words at random or duplicate what you’ve already said. Don’t just add words at random or repeat what you’ve already said. Consider where you could extend or what you could add to your research paper that fits in with the rest of it, develops the concepts you’re providing, or offers useful information.
After you’ve made all of the modifications you think are necessary, go over your work again to make sure it makes sense. It’s easy to leave or erase a word, sentence, or paragraph that you didn’t mean to, especially while working on a computer. If you’re bored of staring at your research paper, hand it over to a friend, mentor, or teacher and ask them to read it and tell you what they think.
Step 9: Proofread for grammar.
It’s also crucial to proofread for grammar. This may appear difficult, but there are numerous tools and resources available to assist you. If you’re not sure what to do with commas, semicolons, or run-on sentences, use Grammarly or Strunk and White’s Elements of Style.
Editing for grammar, like content editing, may take a few passes. It’s fine if you need to take a break. It may even assist you in returning to your writing with a more focused mindset, which is essential for spotting and correcting errors.
Step 10: Reread your research paper and submit it.
After you’ve completed Steps 1–9, you should absolutely take a break. Give your paper a final read-through after a day or two (or an hour or two if you’re pressed for time). If you’ve only read your paper on a screen so far, printing a copy and reading it on paper can be beneficial. While reading on your computer, you may see errors or formatting difficulties that your eyes missed. It’s time to submit your research paper once you’ve reviewed it one more time and double-checked that it meets all of the assignment’s requirements.
Make sure you follow any directions for submitting your research paper that have been supplied to you. Allow time to troubleshoot if something goes wrong. What will you do if you try to print your paper five minutes before class starts and your printer is out of toner? Even though it is bad that you are meant to submit your paper online at midnight and the wifi is down when you login to submit your assignment at 11:58 PM, you could have avoided this by logging on with enough time to handle any problems that emerge before the deadline.
Your teacher will appreciate and respect your preparation, and it will almost certainly benefit your marks. Don’t be hesitant to ask your instructor for assistance, but do so in a reasonable and responsible manner. If you log on the day before and discover that the location where you are supposed to turn in your assignment is locked or unavailable, send an email to your teacher so that they can assist you in submitting your work before the deadline.
Only don’t expect them to assist you in the middle of the night, on the weekend, or just minutes before a deadline. Some instructors might, but at that point, you’re just lucky. If you plan ahead of time and give yourself enough time to turn in an assignment, you won’t have to rely on luck to see if your professor is sitting at their computer and ready to help you when you contact them.
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