Sometimes being tasked with writing a research paper can seem intimidating, but the reality is that when approached in the correct manner, writing a paper is quite simple. This guide tells you the steps that are needed to write a research paper that will come together with ease and impress your teacher or professor.
Choose the Topic
The topic should be one that both captures your interest and challenges you. The attitude you have toward the topic can determine the level of effort and enthusiasm that is put into the research. The topic should be narrowed down from something broad to something specific. The teacher should approve the topic before you start research. If you are not sure what is expected in the assignment, read the assignment sheet again or ask the teacher. Stay away from topics that are too specialized or have a narrow range of source materials.
Finding the Information
Using a search engine is a good starting point for research. When checking out websites, pay careful attention to the domain name extensions, these will tell you who owns the domain such as the government with .gov, a nonprofit organization with .org, or an educational institution with .edu. Many commercial sites are pretty good, but a large number contain only advertisements for products. Aside from websites, use magazines, newspapers, government publications, encyclopedias, almanacs, and regular books.
Thesis and Outline
In a nutshell, a thesis is a declaration of your beliefs. The body of the essay will contain arguments that support and defend this. All of the points in the outline should relate back to the thesis. The purpose of the outline is to think through the topic carefully and organize your paper in a logical manner before beginning to write it. All of the points that are covered should logically flow from one to the other. Included in the outline should be an introduction, the body, and conclusion.
Organize Notes and Write the First Draft
Gather all of the information according to the outline, and use the best sources available. Check for accuracy in the data that is collected. If available, opposing views should be noted to help support the thesis. This is possibly the most important part of writing a paper because you analyze, combine, sort, and digest information that has been gathered to learn more about the topic.
Arrange the outline into workable sentences in the ideas. Each idea should be summarized, paraphrased, or directly quoted to make up the first draft.
Revising the Outline and Draft
Read the paper and correct any content errors. Double check any facts that have been included. Rearrange ideas so that they follow the outline. Edit the outline if needed, but always keep the purpose of the paper in mind. Also, run the paper through a grammar and proofreading checker.
The Final Draft
The final draft should be typed and printed in good quality. Refer back to the assignment sheet to ensure that the essay meets the requirements. Proofread the final paper for any spelling or grammar mistakes. Plan to have the final paper done at least two days before the deadline, giving you the chance to check the paper over and have peace of mind that the assignment is finished on time.
Writing a research paper is a combination of gathering credible information, and then arranging this information into a way that makes sense. When you follow this approach, it will become clear what is needed to do this. Above all, follow the instructions that are given by the teacher or professor. This will be the best bet in presenting the information that is required for a good grade.
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