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How to Write a Research Paper

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This way, you will also be able to gauge whether your teacher approves of the topic you have in mind. Avoid asking your teacher to give you a topic. Unless your topic was assigned to you in the first place, part of the assignment is for you to choose a topic relevant to the broader theme of the class or unit. By asking your teacher to do this for you, you risk admitting laziness or incompetence. If you have a few topics in mind but are not sure how to develop objectives for some of them, your teacher can help with this.

Plan to discuss your options with your teacher and come to a decision yourself rather than having him or her choose the topic for you from several options. Break up your essay into sub-topics. You will probably need to address several distinct aspects of your research topic in your essay.

This is an important tactic for producing a well-organized research essay because it avoids 'stream of consciousness' writing, which typically lacks order. Consider what background information is necessary to contextualize your research topic. What questions might the reader have right out of the gate? How do you want the reader to think about the topic? Answering these kinds of questions can help you figure out how to set up your argument. Match your paper sections to the objective s of your writing.

For example, if you are trying to present two sides of a debate, create a section for each and then divide them up according to the aspects of each argument you want to address.

One of the most helpful things you can do when writing a research paper is to outline the various sections and primary points of the essay. Do this before you begin writing so you can visualize how each of the essay's parts will fit together. This will also allow you to rearrange components of the paper to make it flow logically.

Some people like to include a few sentences under each heading in their outline to create a sort of "mini-essay" before they begin writing. Others find that a simple ordered list of topics is sufficient. Do whatever works best for you. If you have time, write your outline a day or two before you start writing and come back to it several times.

This will give you an opportunity to think about how the pieces of your essay will best fit together. Rearrange things in your outline as many times as you want until you have a structure you are happy with. Research papers, unlike creative writing pieces, usually adhere to a specific style guides governing the way sources must be cited and various other aspects of writing mechanics.

If you are writing a research essay for a class, your teacher will probably specify which style the essay must conform to. Consult your teacher if you aren't sure what style to use. If you are assigned a specific format, you must take care to adhere to guidelines for text formatting and citations. Some computer programs such as EndNote allow you to construct a library of resources which you can then set to a specific format type; then you can automatically insert in-text citations from your library and populate a references section at the end of the document.

This is an easy way to make sure your citations match your assigned style format. You should set realistic writing goals for yourself so you can stay on task without feeling overburdened. It is a good idea to create a schedule and set aside blocks of time each day to work on specific parts of your essay. This way you aren't stuck writing nonstop for two days to meet your deadline and you can check things off your list as you complete them. You may wish to start by simply assigning yourself a certain number of pages per day.

Divide the number of pages you are required to write by the number of days you have to finish the essay; this is the number of pages minimum that you must complete each day in order to pace yourself evenly. If possible, leave a buffer of at least one day between finishing your paper and the due date. This will allow you to review your finished product and edit it for errors.

This will also help in case something comes up that slows your writing progress. In this section, introduce your topic and establish the purpose for your essay. If you intend to investigate a debated topic, state this in your introduction. You want the reader to have a good idea of what the essay is about and how it is constructed by reading your introduction.

Save your opinions and any conclusions you've drawn for the rest of the essay. For most papers, one or two paragraphs will suffice. For really long essays, you may need to expand this. Don't assume your reader already knows the basics of the topic unless it truly is a matter of common knowledge. For example, you probably don't need to explain in your introduction what biology is, but you should define less general terms such as "eukaryote" or "polypeptide chain. Build the body of your essay. This is the meat of your paper, on which you should place the majority of your focus.

The length and detail of your essay will determine the form of its body, but at a minimum this should include any key arguments, any research methods used and results obtained in cases where you performed original research , and your main research findings. Alternatively, you can consider moving this to the introductory section, but only if your essay is short and only minimal background discussion is needed.

This is the part of your paper where organization and structure are most important. Arrange sections within the body so that they flow logically and the reader is introduced to ideas and sub-topics before they are discussed further. Depending upon the length and detail of your paper, the end of the body might contain a discussion of findings. This kind of section serves to wrap up your main findings but does not explicitly state your conclusions which should come in the final section of the essay.

Avoid repetition in the essay body. Keep your writing concise, yet with sufficient detail to address your objective s or research question s. Cite your references properly. One of the biggest mistakes you can make when writing a research paper is to fail to properly cite your sources. Passing off someone else's ideas as your own, whether intentional or not, is plagiarism, and it could land you a failing grade or even expulsion from your school.

Take the time to ensure you are citing information the right way by following these guidelines: Always use quotation marks when using exact quotes from another source. If someone already said or wrote the words you are using, you must quote them this way!

Place your in-text citation at the end of the quote. To include someone else's ideas in your essay without directly quoting them, you can restate the information in your own words; this is called paraphrasing. Although this does not require quotation marks, it should still be accompanied by an in-text citation. This section stands apart from the essay body in that it is devoted solely to stating the conclusions you have drawn from your research.

Avoid discussing details of your research or presenting results in this section. You may wish to rephrase your study objective and state how your findings address that goal.

You should aim for one or two paragraphs, if possible. Pick something you love. Whenever possible, choose a topic that you feel passionate about. Writing about something you enjoy certainly shows in the final product, making it more likely that you will be successful writing a paper about something you enjoy. If you are writing a research paper for a class, consider the other students. Is it likely that they will also be writing about your topic? How can you keep your paper unique and interesting if everyone is writing about the same thing?

Asking a professor for help may seem frightening, but if they are worth anything as a professor, they want you to be successful with your work, and will do what they can to make that happen. Although it requires a bit more time, you have the ability to change your topic even after you begin researching others.

With a topic selected, the next step is to begin research. Research comes in numerous forms including web pages, journal articles, books, encyclopedias, interviews, and blog posts, among others. Take time to look for professional resources who offer valid research and insight into your topic.

Try to use a minimum of five sources to vary your information; never rely on only sources. Look for empirical research. 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. 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.

Typically, websites that end with. That is because these websites belong to schools, the government, or organizations dealing with your topic. Try changing your search query often to find different search results for your topic.

There are special search engines and academic databases available that search through thousands of peer-reviewed or scientifically published journals, magazines, and books. Look for databases that cover your subject only. For example, PsycINFO is an academic database that holds nothing but works done by authors in the field of psychology and sociology.

This will help you to get more tailored results than a very general search would. Take advantage of this ability to ask for specific information by using as many of the query boxes as you can. Visit your school library and ask the librarian for a full list of the academic databases they subscribe to, as well as the passwords for each.

Get creative with your research. This should contain many more books and journals that are about your topic as well. This step is very important: Make marks on anything that you think might be remotely important or that could be put to use in your paper. As you mark off important pieces in the research, add your own commentary and notes explaining to yourself where you might use it in your paper. Writing down your ideas as you have them will make writing your paper much easier and give you something to refer back to.

Annotating your research can take quite a bit of time, but needs to be taken one step further in order to add a bit more clarity for the outlining process. Organize your notes by collecting all of your highlighted phrases and ideas into categories based on topic. For example, if you are writing a paper analyzing a famous work of literature, you could organize your research into a list of notes on the characters, a list of references to certain points in the plot, a list of symbols the author presents, et cetera.

Try writing each quote or item that you marked onto an individual note card. That way, you can rearrange and lay out your cards however you would like. Color code your notes to make it easier. Write down a list of all the notes you are using from each individual resource, and then highlight each category of information in a different color.

For example, write everything from a particular book or journal on a single sheet of paper in order to consolidate the notes, and then everything that is related to characters highlight in green, everything related to the plot mark in orange, et cetera.

As you go through your notes, mark down the author, page number, title, and publishing information for each resource. This will come in handy when you craft your bibliography or works cited page later in the game. Identify the goal of the paper. Generally, speaking, there are two types of research paper: Each requires a slightly different focus and writing style which should be identified prior to starting a rough draft.

An argumentative research paper takes a position on a contentious issue and argues for one point of view. The issue should be debatable with a logical counter argument. An analytic research paper offers a fresh look at an important issue. The subject may not be controversial, but you must attempt to persuade your audience that your ideas have merit.

This is not simply a regurgitation of ideas from your research, but an offering of your own unique ideas based on what you have learned through research. Who would be reading this paper, should it be published? Although you want to write for your professor or other superior, it is important that the tone and focus of your paper reflect the audience who will be reading it.

The thesis statement is a sentence statement at the beginning of your paper that states the main goal or argument of your paper. Although you can alter the wording of your thesis statement for the final draft later, coming up with the main goal of your essay must be done in the beginning. All of your body paragraphs and information will revolve around your thesis, so make sure that you are clear on what your thesis is.

What is the primary question or hypothesis that you are going to go about proving in your paper? Your thesis should express the main idea of your paper without listing all of your reasons or outline your entire paper. Determine your main points. The body of your essay will revolve around the ideas that you judge to be most important. Go through your research and annotations to determine what points are the most pivotal in your argument or presentation of information. What ideas can you write whole paragraphs about?

Choose a topic which interests and challenges you. Your attitude towards the topic may well determine the amount of effort and enthusiasm you put into your research. Focus on a limited aspect, e. Obtain teacher approval for your topic before embarking on a full-scale research. If you are uncertain as to what is expected of you in completing the assignment or project, re-read your assignment sheet carefully or ASK your teacher.

Select a subject you can manage. Avoid subjects that are too technical, learned, or specialized. Avoid topics that have only a very narrow range of source materials. For general or background information, check out useful URLs , general information online , almanacs or encyclopedias online such as Britannica.

Use search engines and other search tools as a starting point. Pay attention to domain name extensions, e. These sites represent institutions and tend to be more reliable, but be watchful of possible political bias in some government sites. Network Solutions provides a link where you can find out what some of the other extensions stand for.

Be wary of the millions of personal home pages on the Net. The quality of these personal homepages vary greatly. Learning how to evaluate websites critically and to search effectively on the Internet can help you eliminate irrelevant sites and waste less of your time. The recent arrival of a variety of domain name extensions such as.

Many of the new extensions have no registration restrictions and are available to anyone who wishes to register a distinct domain name that has not already been taken. For instance, if Books. Check out online resources, Web based information services, or special resource materials on CDs:.

Check out public and university libraries, businesses, government agencies, as well as contact knowledgeable people in your community. Bookmark your favorite Internet sites. Printout, photocopy, and take notes of relevant information. As you gather your resources, jot down full bibliographical information author, title, place of publication, publisher, date of publication, page numbers, URLs, creation or modification dates on Web pages, and your date of access on your work sheet, printout, or enter the information on your laptop or desktop computer for later retrieval.

If printing from the Internet, it is wise to set up the browser to print the URL and date of access for every page. Remember that an article without bibliographical information is useless since you cannot cite its source. Most research papers normally require a thesis statement. If you are not sure, ask your teacher whether your paper requires it. A thesis statement is a main idea, a central point of your research paper. The arguments you provide in your paper should be based on this cenral idea, that is why it is so important.

Do some critical thinking and write your thesis statement down in one sentence. Your research paper thesis statement is like a declaration of your belief. The main portion of your essay will consist of arguments to support and defend this belief. It is impossible to create a thesis statement immediately when you have just started fulfilling your assignment. Before you write a thesis statement, you should collect, organize and analyze materials and your ideas. You cannot make a finally formulated statement before you have completed your reseach paper.

It will naturally change while you develop your ideas. Stay away from generic and too fuzzy statements and arguments. Use a particular subject. The paper should present something new to the audience to make it interesting and educative to read.

Avoid citing other authors in this section. Present your own ideas in your own words instead of simply copying from other writers. If you have time and opportunity, show it to your instructor to revise. Otherwise, you may estimate it yourself. A well-prepared thesis means well-shaped ideas.

It increases credibility of the paper and makes good impression about its author. More helpful hints about Writing a Research Paper. An informal outline working outline is a tool helping an author put down and organize their ideas. It is subject to revision, addition and canceling, without paying much attention to form. In a formal outline, numbers and letters are used to arrange topics and subtopics.


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How to Write a Research Paper. What is a research paper? A research paper is a piece of academic writing based on its author’s original research on a particular topic, and the analysis and interpretation of the research findings. It can be either a term paper, a master’s thesis or a doctoral dissertation.

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HOW TO WRITE AN EFFECTIVE RESEARCH PAPER • Getting ready with data • First draft • Structure of a scientific paper • Selecting a journal • Submission • Revision and galley proof Disclaimer: The suggestions and remarks in this presentation are based on personal research experience. Research practices and approaches vary.

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Writing a Research Paper. This page lists some of the stages involved in writing a library-based research paper. Although this list suggests that there is a simple, linear process to writing such a paper, the actual process of writing a research paper is often a messy and recursive one, so please use this outline as a flexible guide. The goal of a research proposal is to present and justify the need to study a research problem and to present the practical ways in which the proposed study should be conducted. The design elements and procedures for conducting the research are governed by standards within the predominant discipline.

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Steps in Writing a Research Paper. A series of steps, starting with developing a research question and working thesis, will lead you through writing a research paper. Research papers are generally longer pieces of written work than essays. Writing a research paper involves all of the steps for writing an essay plus some additional ones. To write a research paper you must first do some research, that is, investigate your topic by reading about it in many different.