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? Which ideas to you have plenty of firm facts and research to back with evidence? Write your main points down on paper, and then organize the related research under each. When you outline your main ideas, putting them in a specific order is important.
However, you will also need to take a stand and decide what exactly you are trying to say about college life. In learning how to write a college paper, this is the vital step. Now, I know that this sounds pretty basic but, believe it or not, most college writers never really complete this step. In other words, they kind of try to get away without deciding on the main point.
But being able to create a crystal clear main point is critical in learning how to write a college paper. Or that it Stinks. But you must decide. Now, a word of warning here. I know that it sounds limiting to have such a narrow view of something — that it is either totally great or totally bad.
But when you are just beginning to learn how to write a college paper you should always put a definite plus or a minus sign on your subject. The first sentence of your thesis statement should simply be the stand that you just took, i. In teaching my students how to write a college paper, I call this the Power of Three.
First, classes are more interesting. Second, professors are fun. And finally, extracurricular activities abound. This would be a perfect thesis statement, if excessively simplified. In a formal outline, numbers and letters are used to arrange topics and subtopics.
The letters and numbers of the same kind should be placed directly under one another. The topics denoted by their headings and subheadings should be grouped in a logical order. All points of a research paper outline must relate to the same major topic that you first mentioned in your capital Roman numeral. The purpose of an outline is to help you think through your topic carefully and organize it logically before you start writing.
A good outline is the most important step in writing a good paper. Check your outline to make sure that the points covered flow logically from one to the other.
Make the first outline tentative. What is the chief reason you are writing the paper? State also how you plan to approach your topic. Is this a factual report, a book review, a comparison, or an analysis of a problem? Explain briefly the major points you plan to cover in your paper and why readers should be interested in your topic.
BODY — This is where you present your arguments to support your thesis statement. Remember the Rule of 3, i. Begin with a strong argument, then use a stronger one, and end with the strongest argument for your final point. Explain why you have come to this particular conclusion. Organize all the information you have gathered according to your outline. Critically analyze your research data. Using the best available sources, check for accuracy and verify that the information is factual, up-to-date, and correct.
Opposing views should also be noted if they help to support your thesis. This is the most important stage in writing a research paper. Here you will analyze, synthesize, sort, and digest the information you have gathered and hopefully learn something about your topic which is the real purpose of doing a research paper in the first place.
You must also be able to effectively communicate your thoughts, ideas, insights, and research findings to others through written words as in a report, an essay, a research or term paper, or through spoken words as in an oral or multimedia presentation with audio-visual aids.
Do not include any information that is not relevant to your topic, and do not include information that you do not understand.
Make sure the information that you have noted is carefully recorded and in your own words, if possible. Plagiarism is definitely out of the question. Document all ideas borrowed or quotes used very accurately.
As you organize your notes, jot down detailed bibliographical information for each cited paragraph and have it ready to transfer to your Works Cited page. Devise your own method to organize your notes. One method may be to mark with a different color ink or use a hi-liter to identify sections in your outline, e. Group your notes following the outline codes you have assigned to your notes, e. This method will enable you to quickly put all your resources in the right place as you organize your notes according to your outline.
Start with the first topic in your outline. Read all the relevant notes you have gathered that have been marked, e. Summarize, paraphrase or quote directly for each idea you plan to use in your essay.
Use a technique that suits you, e. Mark each card or sheet of paper clearly with your outline code or reference, e. Put all your note cards or paper in the order of your outline, e.
If using a word processor, create meaningful filenames that match your outline codes for easy cut and paste as you type up your final paper, e.
Before you know it, you have a well organized term paper completed exactly as outlined. The unusual symbol will make it easy for you to find the exact location again. Delete the symbol once editing is completed. Read your paper for any content errors. Double check the facts and figures. Arrange and rearrange ideas to follow your outline. Reorganize your outline if necessary, but always keep the purpose of your paper and your readers in mind. Use a free grammar and proof reading checker such as Grammarly.
Is my thesis statement concise and clear? Did I follow my outline? Did I miss anything?
7 Steps to Writing a Great Research Paper. by Cathy Keller Brown. As you begin taking more upper-level courses, you may be distressed to find that your grades hinge .
Following our writing tips you will design your paper just great and learn how to write do a good college research paper. Step One: General tips. In this step we are going to provide you with some general tips for writing a research paper at college. First of all we would like you to change your kind of thinking. Most of the students do not have a creative thinking, but it is possible to develop it. Common research .
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