Got a big research paper to write? Properly researching your paper can seem like a mammoth task, but it's not nearly as daunting if you break it down into steps.
Read on to find out how to prepare your research paper with the minimum amount of fuss and the maximum amount of impact. Featured Articles Research Papers. Decide on your objective. Spend some time thinking about what you want your paper to accomplish. Do you want it to prove your viewpoint? You also need to know what kind of paper you are doing, for example literary analysis, historical, scientific, etc.
This will determine the structure and style of your paper. Know the specialized requirements sought by your educational institution with respect to format, style, and content for a research paper in a specific field. Sometimes the requirements are very exacting. Pick a clear and concise title to sum up your paper. Keep the title focused, so that your paper goes into one specific subject or question really deeply, rather than giving a less informative overview of the entire topic area.
Make it fit in with your objective, for example, if you were aiming to write an analytical paper, consider saying something more like "To what extent did X affect Y", rather than just "What were the effects of X". However, be prepared to change this if your research takes you in a different direction. List some key words. Make a list of key words on your topic that will be helpful in locating information when you conduct online and offline searches.
Making a mind map of all the topics and sub-topics you are thinking about covering can be very helpful. Go to the library. Find a quiet spot, grab some books and get down to work! You can find books by looking down the shelves of books for that topic, asking a librarian, or using the library catalogue, if there is one. Libraries may also have tables or desks which you can use, so take advantage of this and spread out your notes and books! Don't forget to use reserved or reference sections.
These will usually carry the most popular information as well as restricted borrowing items. Make some notes on your sources. Get down any facts, and make detailed notes from a variety of sources, as long as your notes are completely in your own words. If you don't think you can write something in your own words but you need to include it, you can always directly quote the source, as long as you use speech or quote marks "" and make it absolutely clear that it is a quote, and referencing where you got it from in the footnotes or end notes.
If the books have any relevant pictures, you could also scan the pages and include them in your paper, as long as you reference where you got them too! Don't be afraid to make your notes colourful, as well as making them more interesting to look at; doing this can help you keep organised, for example by colour-coding by sub-topic. If you want, you could also scan in or photocopy some of your paper sources, so you can make notes or highlight on copies of them!
If reading PDFs online, learn how to highlight text for quick return referencing when writing up your paper. Avoid leaving notes penciled in the margins of library books. This is a nuisance for later readers; always erase any marks you make.
Ask a librarian for help if you need it - they will know better than anyone what information is available to you. Now you can do some online research by plugging in those keywords you listed at the start. Only take information from reputable sites and organizations. Wikipedia, for example, has been shown to be about as accurate as "proper" encyclopedias, but isn't completely accurate and wouldn't be respected as a research source unless your educational institution has said otherwise.
It can be put to good use however, to gather a brief overview of the topic and to send you to other sources that are considered reputable; look at bottom of any Wikipedia article — see which sources they used to decide whether these might be useful to you too!
There is also a large number of books, or portions of books, that can be found online without cost or much effort. Find some useful statistics to aid your research. Once you have the statistics, you can always use a program like Excel to make them into graphs to include in your paper.
Be sure to analyse the statistics with care and not simply pick and choose elements of them to meet what you want them to demonstrate. 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? Are my arguments presented in a logical sequence?
Are all sources properly cited to ensure that I am not plagiarizing? Have I proved my thesis with strong supporting arguments? Have I made my intentions and points clear in the essay? Re-read your paper for grammatical errors. Use a dictionary or a thesaurus as needed. Do a spell check. Correct all errors that you can spot and improve the overall quality of the paper to the best of your ability. Get someone else to read it over. Sometimes a second pair of eyes can see mistakes that you missed.
Did I begin each paragraph with a proper topic sentence? Have I supported my arguments with documented proof or examples? Any run-on or unfinished sentences? Any unnecessary or repetitious words? Varying lengths of sentences? Does one paragraph or idea flow smoothly into the next? Any spelling or grammatical errors? Quotes accurate in source, spelling, and punctuation? Are all my citations accurate and in correct format? Did I avoid using contractions? Did I use third person as much as possible?
Have I made my points clear and interesting but remained objective? Did I leave a sense of completion for my reader s at the end of the paper? For an excellent source on English composition, check out this classic book by William Strunk, Jr. Place yourself in the background, Revise and rewrite, Avoid fancy words, Be clear, Do not inject opinion, Do not take shortcuts at the cost of clarity, … and much more. The Elements of Style was first published in There is also a particular formatting style you must follow.
There are several formatting styles typically used. APA American Psychological Association style is mostly used to cite sources within the field of social sciences. Instead of providing individual recommendations for each publishing format printed, online, e-books etc.
You should necessarily ask your instuctor which formatting style is required for your paper and format it accordingly before submitting. All formal reports or essays should be typewritten and printed, preferably on a good quality printer. Read the assignment sheet again to be sure that you understand fully what is expected of you, and that your essay meets the requirements as specified by your teacher.
Know how your essay will be evaluated. Proofread final paper carefully for spelling, punctuation, missing or duplicated words. Make the effort to ensure that your final paper is clean, tidy, neat, and attractive.
Writing a research paper with a group of other people is completely different than writing one on your own, as you are dependent on the work of others. On the other hand, a research paper made by a group can encompass a lot more than one written by a single person. However, people have different ideas and views on how.
If you do too much unfocused research first, then the tendency is to try to include all of it in the paper. The result is a hodgepodge of information that's not focused, developed fully, or indicative of your own thoughts.
Research Paper Outline Examples Once you've decided what topic you will be writing about, the next thing you should pay attention to is the scope of your paper or what you will be including in your discussion. HOW TO WRITE AN EFFECTIVE RESEARCH PAPER • Getting ready with data • First draft • Structure of a scientific paper • Selecting a journal • Submission • Revision and galley proof Disclaimer: The suggestions and remarks in this presentation are based on personal research experience. Research practices and approaches vary.
Here's what I do: Read the paper over fairly quickly to get the main points of it. Read the materials and methods more carefully to make sure the approaches used in the investigation are defensible.