For those of you who are not familiar with a research paper, here is the definition. A research paper is an academic writing that contains theoretical and substantial information that has undergone the process of in-depth research. The arguments in a research paper are based on a thesis statement that is supported by relevant evidence from different reliable and credible sources.
Writing a research paper might seem too daunting at first, but it is not that complicated. Once you know the proper steps to follow, the process will become easier. The only challenge might stem from the kind of research that this paper needs, but no one has to lose hope of writing a perfect document. It also becomes much easier if you have been practicing in school. The following steps are significant if you are looking toward writing a good research paper.
You can follow these steps to organize your overall paper format:
- Carefully select your topic
- Look for sources that are relevant and ensure they are reliable
- Use index cards to jot down important notes that might e needed throughout the process of writing.
- Organize your notes based on the topics they come under.
- Have a well-thought outline
- Write the first rough draft to give you a gist of what your research paper will look like.
- Go through the draft once you are done writing and rewrite
- Edit when necessary
The library is the best place to start looking for relevant information for your research paper. It has reliable and helpful sources that will prove essential in the whole process. The library must contain journals, books and published articles that contain information that might support your thesis and the topic at large.
The library also has free internet, which comes in handy in your research. The best way to do this is to find the best quiet place that you can carry on with your work without distractions. Feel free to ask for help from the librarians. The internet is rich with information, even though one has to be careful not to use unreliable internet sources. There are numerous scholarly articles online, and you can crosscheck their reliability using alternative sites and reference book. For general background information from the internet, you can use URLs, general information online, almanacs or encyclopedias online. You can make use of search engines for your online research.
You also have to pay attention to domain names for instance educational institution (.ed) government (.gov) or non-profit organization (.org). Such sites are more reliable, but you must look out for political bias especially from some of the government sites. You should be careful with commercial (.com) sites since some of them contain adverts and nothing more.
You can use Online Public Access Catalog to find books in the library.
The idea is to have enough material for your topic.
If you have the liberty to choose a topic, settle on the one that you are interested in and are curious about it. This motivates you to do the necessary research for it. Do not make a mistake of choosing a topic that is too general. This can be too problematic since there will be too much information to include in your paper, something that might present a serious challenge. You have to make your very specific. The argument that you are going to include in your paper should revolve around this topic. The major portion of your research paper will have arguments that support this topic
A research paper ought to have a good thesis statement. This should be produced early in the paper, preferably in the introduction or the second paragraph if your paper is going to be lengthy. Creating a thesis statement cannot be done immediately during the preliminary steps of your paper. You should have the materials you need, analyze them together with your ideas. A finally formulated thesis statement comes after you have completed your paper. The change occurs as you proceed with your writing process. You have to ensure that the paper is introducing to the audience something new that no one else has written about it. You cannot include citations in your thesis statement
You have to be organized while taking these notes. You only take the information that is relevant to your topic. You can use highlighters for marking important notes by their topics. This will make it easy to find a specific topic. If possible, photocopy the page or the article that you will need. This saves you time and every time you take note of something, write down its bibliographical information like the author, book title, page number, volume number and publisher’s name and so on. The bibliographical information will be helpful when you are making entries of the sources you have cited in your paper.
Once you have completed your in-depth research, you can formulate an outline for your paper. You can start brainstorming on the information you have and decide which topics they fit best. Brainstorming an outline does not imply that the information has to be structured in sentences. You need to note the part that will start, what will appear in the middle and the end. By now, your research paper has started taking shape.
Writing an outline is an essential step since you can arrange and rearrange information according to what you want. It might take time than the rest of the steps, but it is worth it. It forms the basis of your research paper.
After you are satisfied that your outline meets your expectations, you can now write the first draft of your research paper. Using your framework, get all the ideas written down and formulate sentences and paragraphs with them. This is where you give your research paper the ‘flesh’ it needs. With the information you are writing, endure that you can make sense of everything. At this point, you can add more research if need be. This is the first draft, and it is subject to any change you might deem necessary.
The completion of the rough draft demands you to read it carefully making corrections where necessary. Once you have completed this task, you now sit down and write your final draft. Ensure all the information in your paragraph make sense and flow logically. You have to correct all grammatical errors that are there in the paper and to the same to typographical errors too.
You do not want to submit a paper that is a haven for the wrong spellings. Ensure that all words are correctly spelled. Every source you have used must be listed on the bibliography page. It is imperative to note that in the bibliography, you are supposed to make entries of the sources you have used in the paper. Do not inflate this page with irrelevant references you did not use, just to make a list look long.
Examiners always check to see if the bibliography list confirms with all the citations used in the paper. Conversely, ensure that you have cited any information, ideas, or direct sentences that are not originally yours. Once you have finished all this do the final adjustments that are required. Read your paper or even ask a friend or a professor to go through it and give you necessary feedback. The paper must meet all the requirements of the instructor.
A good research paper also relies on a good and well-thought title. The title requires careful thought. You will be surprised that most people might have comprehensive details of their paper but are confused on how to title the same paper.
In most cases, researchers have fallen to the trap of judging a book by its cover. This has played majorly where the readers depend on the tile to influence their decision on the paper. Seeking assistance concerning the development of a good title is essential, but it all comes back to the author when setting the tone of the paper.
Different research papers will come up in different databases and reference sections of research papers. The audience will know what the paper is about and how relevant it is to them based on the title. Having this understanding helps in clearing the fact that a research title is a determinant factor of how many people will read the whole paper.
A good research paper title must have the ability to:
- Condense the research paper contents in a few words.
- Grab the reader’s attention
- Enable the paper stand out from the rest of the papers in the same subject field.
Consider the following tips when selecting your research paper title.
The title should be simple, brief and attractive
The principal function of the title is to summarize the contents of the paper. It should be kept concise and clear. Use active verbs instead of noun-based phrases and avoid unnecessary details. A good research title should not go beyond 12 words. A long title may come out as unfocused and might lose the reader’s attention from an important point.
Utilize appropriate descriptive words
An effective research paper title should incorporate keywords used in the manuscript. It should also define the nature of the study. You have to pay attention to the terms that people would use to search for your study and include them the title.
Do not include jargon or abbreviations in your title
You have to leave out jargons and abbreviations in your title. Using abbreviations that are lesser-known will throw off the reader. Abbreviations such as NATO or AIDS can be used since everybody knows them. Using words that are too complex for the readers to understand might makes them abandon your paper altogether. As stressed earlier, keep your title as simple, understandable, and concise as possible.
Once you have finished writing everything, there are several things you have to do to ensure your paper is good.
- Ensure that your thesis statement is clear enough
- Ensure that you followed the outline and you did not leave anything out.
- Find out if your arguments flow in a logical sequence
- Ensure that you have cited every source you have used to avoid plagiarism
- Find out if you have proved your thesis with strong and supporting arguments
- Find out if you have begun every paragraph with a proper topic sentence
- Identify if you have used relevant examples to support your argument
- Check for unfinished or run on sentences
- Is there any unnecessary repetition?
- Do you have varied sentence length?
- Find out if there is a flow of ideas from one paragraph to the next.
- Find out if you have followed the correct format of referencing as prescribed by the instructor.
- Ascertain if you used the third person frequently
- Find out if your paper remained objective all through
- Find out if you left a sense of completion at the end of your paper.
All these aspects help in determining if your paper is effective and to the point. There comes a time in a student’s life when they have to write a research paper. This may create anxiety in the student and bring cases of procrastination. This is a scion of the unfamiliarity that exists among students. Writing a research paper is not a hard task if you think about it.
This could be one of the career objectives of some students and as such, research writing is important. Not only is focused on imparting skills, but it is also aimed at enabling the student to write a perfect research paper that will earn him good grades. It takes practice to become a better research writer, and of course, there are those people who have natural prowess at this. Either way, the above tips will help the student construct an effective research paper and make the process easy. You can achieve more in a good paper.