These steps will lead you through writing a research paper: One Big Mess Developing a Research Question Developing a Research Thesis Thesis Characteristics Finding Sources · How to write a research paper In order to write a research paper, you should: 1. Decide on a topic The person assigning the paper might also assign a topic. If you have a · The typical outline of a research paper is broken up into sections and paragraphs, listing each paragraph’s topic and the related evidence or data to include therein. The depth of ... read more
You have done a lot of work to get to this point! And then, get back to work. Start by editing for content. This means thinking about structure, organization, wording, and length. You carefully organized your paper when you created an outline. Now that you have written your paper, does that organization still make sense? If so, great. If not, what do you need to move around? Did you communicate what you meant to get across? Can you make your paper clearer or easier to understand? This is also a good point to think back to Step 1. Does your paper include everything the assignment asked for?
If not, where can you include the missing pieces? If your paper is too long or too short, now is the time to cut it down or build it up to an acceptable length. Be careful and thoughtful about these edits. If you need to take something out, what makes sense to cut and how can you re-organize your paper so that it maintains a strong structure? Think about where you could expand or what you can add that fits in with the rest of your paper, further develops the ideas you are presenting, or adds valuable information to your research paper. Once you have made all the changes you think necessary, read back through your paper again to be sure it all makes sense. If you are tired of looking at your research paper, give it to a friend, mentor, or teacher and ask them to take a look at your paper and let you know what they think of the content.
It is also important to edit for grammar. This might seem daunting, but there are lots of tools and resources that can help. Like editing for content, editing for grammar might take a few run-throughs. It can even help you come back to your paper feeling more focused, which is key to catching and fixing mistakes. Give your paper a day or two or an hour or two, if you are running short on time and give it a final read-through. It can be helpful to print a copy of your paper and read a hard-copy if you have only read through it on a screen thus far. You might notice mistakes or formatting issues that your eyes missed while reading on your computer. Once you have read your research paper for a final time and double checked that your paper does everything the assignment is asking for, it is time to submit.
Be sure to follow any instructions you have been given about turning in your research paper. Also give yourself time to troubleshoot if things go wrong. If you try to print your paper five minutes before class starts, what are you going to do if your printer is out of toner? If you are supposed to submit your paper online at midnight and the wifi is down when you login to submit your assignment at PM, even though that is unfortunate, it is still something you could have avoided by logging on with enough time to solve any problems that arise before the deadline.
Your teacher will appreciate and respect your preparedness, and it will likely impact your grades positively. If you log on the day before and see that the place where you are supposed to turn in your assignment is locked or unavailable, send your teacher an email so that they can help you submit your paper before it is due. Some instructors might, but you are just lucky at that point. When writing a research paper for a teacher or professor, it is important to step back and think about why they asked you to write this essay in the first place. More than likely, they are giving you an opportunity to learn something.
Learning often involves trial-and-error, making mistakes, and asking lots of questions. However, do remember to be respectful of them, their time, and efforts. It is important to follow any directions that you have been given by your teacher or professor, to take responsibility and not expect them to do your work for you, and to listen to the answers and advice they share with you. Working with your teacher and asking them for help is an often overlooked resource when it comes to writing research papers. Be sure to take advantage of this help; your paper will be all the better for it. Another often-overlooked resource is the research librarian. Did you know that, in addition to tons of books and online materials, college and university libraries often have staff whose job it is to help answer your questions?
Research librarians specialize in research it might sound obvious, but take a second to get excited about how much this could help you and your research paper! These librarians usually specialize in particular fields and subjects, so you can get specific, expert help that pertains to your topic. They can help you search for resources, connect you with experts in the field your researching, or give you suggestions about the direction of your research and writing. In addition to research librarians, many college and university libraries often house writing centers.
While research librarians can help you more with your research, writing center staff can help you actually write your research paper. You can usually schedule an online or in-person appointment with a tutor or instructor that will help you through any step of the writing process. Many professors even give you extra credit for taking advantage of writing center services. As mentioned earlier in this guide, you can use Wikipedia for introductory research. So, do not use Wikipedia as a primary source for your research paper. When it comes to writing research papers, the references section of a Wikipedia page is one of your best friends. Just like you should be citing your sources at the end of your research paper, Wikipedia articles link to their primary sources.
You can use the list of references to find books, articles, and other material that can help you find reliable, relevant primary sources for use in your research. Your instructor may require you to use peer-reviewed academic articles as some or all of the sources for your research paper. As a college student, you probably have access to a number of academic databases that you can use to find scholarly articles. This skill will be a useful one to have, and you will be easily finding trustworthy, interesting sources in no time. This is not a nocturnal bird that lives at a university in Indiana, but rather the Online Writing Lab OWL at Purdue University.
This online resource offers a number of helpful writing materials, including information on how to cite sources, grammar rules, choosing a topic, and even how to write a research paper. You can search for specific help, or browse resources by category. This free website is a must-visit online resource when writing a college research paper. Grammarly is like a super-powered spell checker. You can copy and paste your paper into the Grammarly editor and get spelling and grammar advice that is easy to implement. You need to go over each suggestion made by the software and make sure that it is indeed correcting an error or improving a sentence and not changing something that you meant to say. That being said, Grammarly is great at catching errors and provides easy-to-understand explanations of spelling and grammar suggestions so you can knowledgeably make changes to your research paper.
Style guides may be mostly a thing of the past. You have probably used a spell checker or Googled where to put a comma, but you may never have opened a style guide. However, this book, The Elements of Style, has helpful advice and information about writing. If you are looking for guidance when it comes to editing your paper, picking up a copy of this book may be just what you need. The book consists of different sections, some with specific grammar and writing rules and definitions and others with general writing advice. You might feel like we keep saying this we do. That is especially important when it comes to formatting your paper. There are several different formatting styles and each has specific rules and guidelines.
The main three are MLA, APA, and Chicago. Your instructor likely gave you instructions on which style to use, and if not you can ask which they prefer. Each style has a different name for the list of sources you attach at the end of your paper, different rules about headers and page numbers, etc. You can find more information about whatever style you are working with in a style guide or from OWL at Purdue. If you are crafting a paper from scratch, start by reading through the above steps to learn how to write a strong research paper. If you have already written a paper, go over this checklist to ensure that it is ready to turn in. by TBS Staff Updated August 24, The Process Resources.
Are you ready to discover your college program? While some steps may not apply to your particular assignment, think of this as more of a general guideline to keep you on track. For some of you this goes without saying, but you might be surprised at how many students start a research paper without even reading the assignment guidelines. So your first step should be to review the assignment and carefully read the writing prompt. Specifically, look for technical requirements such as length , formatting requirements single- vs. double-spacing, indentations, etc. and citation style. Also pay attention to the particulars, such as whether or not you need to write an abstract or include a cover page.
Once you understand the assignment, the next steps in how to write a research paper follow the usual writing process , more or less. There are some extra steps involved because research papers have extra rules, but the gist of the writing process is the same. In open-ended assignments, the student must choose their own topic. Your top priority in how to choose a research paper topic is whether it will provide enough content and substance for an entire research paper. However, you also want to avoid general topics and instead stick with topics specific enough that you can cover all the relevant information without cutting too much. To refine your topic and prepare your thesis statement, find out what research is available for your topic as soon as possible.
Early research can help dispel any misconceptions you have about the topic and reveal the best paths and approaches to find more material. Typically, you can find sources either online or in a library. Some search engines—mentioned below in the Tools and resources section—allow you to browse only accredited sources and academic databases. Keep in mind the difference between primary and secondary sources as you search. Primary sources are firsthand accounts, like published articles or autobiographies; secondary sources are more removed, like critical reviews or secondhand biographies.
If a source seems useful, set it aside to give it a full read later. Using what you found in your preliminary research, write a thesis statement that succinctly summarizes what your research paper will be about. A thesis statement is the best answer for how to start a research paper. Aside from preparing your reader, the thesis statement also makes it easier for other researchers to assess whether or not your paper is useful to them for their own research. Likewise, you should read the thesis statements of other research papers to decide how useful they are to you. A good thesis statement mentions all the important parts of the discussion without disclosing too many of the details.
Normally, you find your supporting evidence by reading each source and taking notes. Aside from highlighting text and writing notes, another common tactic is to use bibliography cards. These are simple index cards with a fact or direct quotation on one side and the bibliographical information source citation, page numbers, subtopic category on the other. A lot of students want to know how to write a research paper outline. More than informal essays, research papers require a methodical and systematic structure to make sure all issues are addressed, and that makes outlines especially important. First make a list of all the important categories and subtopics you need to cover—an outline for your outline! Consider all the information you gathered when compiling your supporting evidence and ask yourself what the best way to separate and categorize everything is.
Once you have a list of what you want to talk about, consider the best order to present the information. Which subtopics are related and should go next to each other? If your information is fairly straightforward, feel free to take a chronological approach and present the information in the order it happened. Because research papers can get complicated, consider breaking your outline into paragraphs. For starters, this helps you stay organized if you have a lot of information to cover. Moreover, it gives you greater control over the flow and direction of the research paper. Open with your thesis statement and then fill out the rest of your introduction with the secondary information—save the details for the body of your research paper, which comes next.
The body contains the bulk of your research paper. Unlike essays , research papers usually divide the body into sections with separate headers to facilitate browsing and scanning. Use the divisions in your outline as a guide. Follow along your outline and go paragraph by paragraph. One of the most common problems with writing long works like research papers is connecting paragraphs to each other. The longer your writing is, the harder it is to tie everything together smoothly. Use transition sentences to improve the flow of your paper, especially for the first and last sentences in a paragraph. Even after the body is written, you still need to know how to write a conclusion for a research paper.
Citations are part of what sets research papers apart from more casual nonfiction like personal essays.
org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site. Writing a good research paper can be daunting if you have never done it before. This guide walks you through everything you need to do to write an effective, impactful research paper. Here are the steps and resources you need to write a strong research paper, as well as a checklist to go over to be sure you wrote a good paper.
Research writing can be a challenge, but with a little practice, it can become an important part of your academic and professional toolkit. The following steps will help you write a research paper, starting with nothing but an assignment or prompt and ending up with a well-crafted essay. The steps are:. Many students skip this step, and then wonder why they receive a low grade on a paper they worked hard on or were excited about. Spend time going over the assignment. Look at everything your instructor has provided you with. It might even be helpful to highlight and take notes on the assignment. Take time to understand exactly what you are being asked to write and how you will be graded on it.
Ask your teacher for clarification before you even pick a topic. That way, you will be sure you are on the right track. In many cases, a controversial topic can be ideal, so that you can exercise your ability to objectively explain differing positions, and even defend one if the assignment calls for that. Use the guidelines given by your instructor to help pick your paper topic. It will be easier on you in the long run to write about a topic that fits the assignment. This step is pretty flexible; different people will research for a paper in different ways. After all, you still have to write your research paper. First off, skimming. Get comfortable reading through things quickly.
Learn how to identify key points and arguments without getting bogged down and reading every word. Next, find reliable resources. But, you cannot use that as a final source. You can use general sources like Wikipedia to get familiar with a topic, find keywords that can further drive your research, and quickly understand large amounts of information. But, for the information you use in your paper, you have to find reliable resources. Take what you have learned from a Google search or Wikipedia article and dig deeper. Check out the sources on the article, use keywords from your internet search to search an academic database, or ask an expert whether or not what you learned is valid and if it is, where you can find a reliable source stating the same thing.
So, just to be clear: you can use Wikipedia as a starting point in your research, but you should not cite Wikipedia as one of the primary sources for your research paper. You can find an article that says anything you want it to say. Did researchers recently discover that octopus DNA is made of alien DNA from outer space? Are the spires on the Cinderella Castle at Disney World removable in case of a hurricane? Did a cook attempt to assassinate George Washington by feeding him poisoned tomatoes? Just because you find one article stating that something is true, that does not necessarily mean it is a proven fact that you can use in your research.
Work to understand all of the different viewpoints and schools of thought on your topic. This can be done by reading a variety of articles, reading a book or article that gives an overview of the topic and incorporates different points of view, or talking to an expert who can explain the topic in depth. So you have all of this information, now what to do with it? Step four is all about getting organized. Like research, different people have different preferences here. It can also depend on your assignment. If your teacher requires you to turn in a bibliography with your research paper think back to step 1; you ought to already know exactly what the assignment is by now! If you are just making one just for yourself, think about how you would like to organize your research.
It might make sense to bookmark resources on your web browser or make a digital bibliography that allows you to link the resources you found. You might prefer a printed list of your resources or you might want to write down all you have learned that is relevant to your project on notecards or sticky notes and organize your research paper on a table or the floor. A starting point when writing a thesis might be to write a one-sentence answer to the question: what is your paper about? The answer might be something like the following examples:. But, what is important to remember, is that this is just a starting point. A thesis needs to be definitive, and should not be about you. So, you might change the above answers to statements like:.
Many universities require freshmen students to live on campus for their first year, which keeps students out of trouble, helps students get better grades, and increases their likelihood of staying in school. Can you see the differences between the first set of sentences and the second set of thesis statements? It is also very important not to be too vague. If you look at the above examples, each of them makes a specific point about the topic. Another key to crafting a strong thesis statement is making sure that your thesis is arguable. Another way to check whether or not your statement is arguable: Is Pride and Prejudice a book?
There is no point in writing an entire essay about that obvious fact. Checking whether or not someone could argue with your thesis statement is a good way to make sure you have written a strong, specific thesis statement that will guide you as you write your paper and earn a good grade for your efforts. After you have worked to create a specific, arguable, definitive thesis statement, this is another place that it could be helpful to check in with your professor, a writing center tutor, or another trusted educator or mentor. Show them your thesis statement and ask them if they think itis a powerful thesis that you will guide you as you build your essay. Like a bibliography, the way that you create your outline may depend on your assignment. If your teacher asked you to turn in an outline, be sure to make an outline that follows the example, guidelines, or requirements you have been given.
Creating an outline is really about structuring your paper. If you have two main points in your thesis, three or five main sections might not work for your research paper. If the assignment asks you to introduce a topic, explain different opinions on the topic, and then choose and explain your opinion, then your paper probably needs three main sections, one for each of those objectives. As you create an outline, think critically about what you are trying to explain or communicate in your research paper and what structure allows you to do that in a clear, organized way.
It usually makes sense to have an introduction and conclusion, but what goes between will vary based on the contents of your essay. The outlining stage of producing your argument is a great time to think about bad forms of argumentation you should avoid. You might feel like you should have started writing sooner, but, rest assured: the work you have done up to this point is important. It will help you create a strong, clear, interesting research paper. There is time to perfect your research paper as you edit. Right now, you just need to write. You have done a lot of work already, so trust that and work from memory as you write your research paper.
Working from your own ideas will help you avoid plagiarism. If you quote something word-for-word, you need to cite your source. Use quotation marks and mention the source of the quote. You will also need to include more information about the quote on a Works Cited or References page. For example, Bill Gates is a billionaire who founded Microsoft. That is a common fact; you can find it stated in numerous trustworthy sources. You have done a lot of work to get to this point! And then, get back to work. Start by editing for content. This means thinking about structure, organization, wording, and length. You carefully organized your paper when you created an outline.
Now that you have written your paper, does that organization still make sense? If so, great. If not, what do you need to move around? Did you communicate what you meant to get across? Can you make your paper clearer or easier to understand? This is also a good point to think back to Step 1. Does your paper include everything the assignment asked for? If not, where can you include the missing pieces? If your paper is too long or too short, now is the time to cut it down or build it up to an acceptable length. Be careful and thoughtful about these edits.
If you need to take something out, what makes sense to cut and how can you re-organize your paper so that it maintains a strong structure? Think about where you could expand or what you can add that fits in with the rest of your paper, further develops the ideas you are presenting, or adds valuable information to your research paper. Once you have made all the changes you think necessary, read back through your paper again to be sure it all makes sense. If you are tired of looking at your research paper, give it to a friend, mentor, or teacher and ask them to take a look at your paper and let you know what they think of the content.
· The typical outline of a research paper is broken up into sections and paragraphs, listing each paragraph’s topic and the related evidence or data to include therein. The depth of These steps will lead you through writing a research paper: One Big Mess Developing a Research Question Developing a Research Thesis Thesis Characteristics Finding Sources · How to write a research paper In order to write a research paper, you should: 1. Decide on a topic The person assigning the paper might also assign a topic. If you have a ... read more