Steps in Writing a Research Paper
Throughout your academic career you will inevitably get lots of tasks in writing research papers on different subjects. Conducting research on various scientific, technical or social aspects or phenomena is an integral part of educational process. If you have never been engaged in such kind of work before, the task may seem rather complicated. I will sort through the process of working on a research paper into simple and logical steps, so you can use it as a guide for writing. Let`s get started, this article contains everything you need to know on how to write a research paper.
Step 1, choose topics for research paper
Well begun is half done, let`s see how to start a research paper. Usually, students can choose among several topics for their research paper. Your work on the paper starts here, make a smart choice.
- Consider, if the research paper topic is “tasty”. Find out, if there is enough material on the subject, if the topic is new and unexplored.
- Always choose a topic that appeals to your interests, it will have a great impact on your work. If you are fond of baseball, why choose a topic on soccer? When you conduct a research on a matter that you care about, you will get amazing results spending the least of efforts.
- Be original, avoid “stamps” and clichés. If you are working on the same topic with other classmates, always think what others will write and do not go down the main road. Think how to make your work unique and eye-catching. It is always a good idea to choose among interesting research paper topics.
- Ask for advice, brainstorm. If you find it difficult to choose the “right” topic, never be ashamed to ask your professor or classmate for advice. You are not obliged to follow their advice, but the more ideas you have the better. Brainstorming always better works in groups.
- If the topic you have started to work on suddenly does not turn to be “the one” and you are hopelessly stuck, don`t fall into despair. Take a short break, order a pizza (no pepperoni, be careful), get some rest and clear your mind before you continue the work. Don`t be afraid to change the topic even if you have already done part of the job, it`s better to lose a part of the paper that turned to be a deadlock than to fail the whole assignment.
Step 2, conduct the research
- You have picked up a good topic for research, congratulations, but what`s next? Start your research on the topic. If you prefer old school methods, you are welcomed at the campus library, if you live in the 21st century you certainly know where to look for information. Web sites, journals, magazines, books, encyclopedias, interviews, blog posts – find as much material on the topic as possible. Use at least 5-7 sources, never rely on only 1 or 2. Focus on credible academic sources, for example, Academicjournals or Oxfordjournals. Wikipedia articles should better be used for reference only.
- When you find a book or article suits demands of your research work, also check it`s reference page. You will find plenty of useful sources there.
- Carefully study the materials that you have chosen to use for your research paper. Analyze the information, use critical thinking, and look into points of view that contradict each other, make notes, underline key facts and statements and have fun.
Step 3, write a draft for research paper
- Write an annotation and prepare a preliminary list of literature. Working with source materials, do not forget to write out author`s names and numbers of pages where each piece of information is found.
- Determine the purpose of your work. There are two basic types of research: polemical and analytical. Each of them requires a special approach at the stage of preparation of a draft.
Polemical research is based on the controversial issue or argues for a particular point of view. The problem should be initially controversial, so the opponents could adduce logical counterarguments.
Analytical research is based on fresh perspective on any important issue. The subject may not cause any controversy, but you should try to convince your audience that your ideas deserve their attention. In this kind of paper, it is appropriate to represent your own unique ideas based on studied material.
- Determine your audience. Who will read your work? Will it be published? If you write an article for a scientific journal, your readers will probably have a certain academic background, so there is no need to explain the basics. If your article is for a wider audience, it should contain more detailed and specific explanations and examples.
- Write a preliminary thesis for research paper based on the objective of the research. The thesis serves as a general idea of your work, making a statement about a particular issue, arguments for this claim and purpose of the research. The thesis should give the reader a general idea about the paper. At this stage, write only a preliminary outline of the thesis (not more than 2-3 sentences). You may and certainly will change it a lot while working on the research paper.
- Specify key issues of the research. You will likely need to provide answers to questions given in the context of the topic. Think, analyze, study source materials and again think. The order of presentation is important. Place your best findings or issues at the beginning of the paper and leave controversial parts closer to the end.
- When you complete your draft it will look like a listed summary of ideas, arguments, proofs and your thoughts. Do not forget to use relevant quotes to support your writing.
Step 4, write a clean version
- Start to work on the text. It may seem strange that I don`t recommend to start with the introduction of the research paper. Don`t bother yourself, for now, it is much easier to write an introduction, based on a partially finished research paper.
Keep in mind several important things:
Work on a conclusion of research. Start with the initial thesis and touch upon important points that you brought up in the paper adding results of the research and general thoughts on the topic.
Let`s get back to the introduction. The introduction is the opposite of the conclusion, it is even written other way around. Start with general thoughts, and then go to your topic. Avoid using the same phrases that you have used in the conclusion.
Specify all sources of information used in the paper in a list of references.
Do not forget about the format. MLA, APA, Turabian, Chicago or any other required by your institution: necessarily get a format guide and be careful to follow it.
Proofread your research paper. Thoroughly polish your diamond to make it shine. Seek and destroy typos, grammar, and spelling mistakes. It is a good idea to ask someone to read it or read it yourself after you chill out for several hours. Every piece of writing needs a fresh eye to catch what was left behind during work rush
It`s time to be proud of yourself, you have done a great job!
- bring proof of each statement;
- give capacious and detailed comments;
- avoid long quotes, show your own thoughts on the subject. If direct quotation is not strictly necessary, it is better to use indirect speech and its subsequent analysis;
- make smooth and logical links between paragraphs.
That is it, hope you had a good time, now you know how to do a research paper.