A research paper is an academic piece that presents analysis, interpretation and argument on the basis of in-depth, independent research.
Although research papers can be compared to academic essays in that they are longer and more detailed, they are intended to test your writing skills as well as your ability to conduct scholarly research. A research paper requires that you have a solid knowledge of the topic and engage with multiple sources.
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This guide walks you through every step of the writing process from understanding your assignment to proofreading your final draft.
1. Understand the assignment
Successfully completing a research paper means completing the tasks given to you. Before you begin, ensure you have read the assignment task sheet thoroughly.
* Take the time to read it, and clarify any confusions with your professor.
* Identify the assignment goal, deadlines, length specifications, formatting, submission method, and format.
* Create a bulleted listing of key points. Then, go back and mark off the completed items as you write.
Be realistic about your timeframe and word limit. Plan enough time to write, research, and edit.
2. Choose a topic for your research paper
You have many options to brainstorm ideas for research papers, including writing it down on paper or sharing it with a professor.
Free writing is something you can do. This involves writing for two to three minutes on a broad topic in order to find any relevant information that might be of interest.
Inspiration can also come from other research. Many research papers have recommendations or discussion sections. These sections often contain ideas for specific topics that need further investigation.
After you have chosen a broad topic area, you can narrow it down to find a topic that is interesting to you, fits your assignment criteria, and is feasible to research. You should seek out original ideas and precise topics.
* A paper based on the chronology of World War II wouldn’t be original enough or specific enough.
* A paper on the experiences of Danish citizens who lived close to the German border during World War II could be interesting and original.
3. Do preliminary research
Take note of any important discussions on the topic and find an area that you can write about. To ensure that you don’t miss any important information, make sure to consult a range of reliable sources such as books and journals.
You should not just verify your ideas, but also look for contradictory sources.
* What do people seem to miss in the sources they research?
* Can you address any heated issues?
* Can you offer a unique perspective on your topic?
* Are there any recent developments that expand on existing research?
This stage is where you may find it useful to create research questions that will guide you. Write the following sentence to create research questions: “I want/what/why “
4. Create a thesis statement
The thesis statement is your central argument. It establishes the purpose of your paper and its position. The thesis statement should answer a research question if you have one. The thesis statement should include the evidence and reasoning that you will use to support your answer.
The thesis statement should be clear, concise, and cohesive. It should be concise, coherent, and contain a summary of your argument in one or two sentences.
While you will likely revise and improve the thesis statement during your research, it can still serve as a guide for the writing process. Each paragraph should support and advance this central claim.
5. Make a outline for your research paper
An outline for a research paper is basically a list of key topics, arguments, and evidence that you want to include. It’s divided into sections with headings so you can see how the paper will look before you begin writing.
Structure outline can make writing much easier, so it is worth taking the time to create one.
6. Review the first draft of your research paper
You can improve on your first draft later. These are your priorities at this stage:
* Maintaining forward momentum — write now, perfect later.
* Make sure you pay attention to the organization and logical order of sentences and paragraphs. This will make it easier to complete the second draft.
* Clearly expressing your thoughts so that you can understand what you meant when you return to the text.
The introduction does not have to be written at the beginning. You can start where it feels natural to you. Some prefer to finish the hardest sections first while others prefer to start with the easiest. You can use an outline as a guide while you work.
Don’t delete large portions of text. Do not delete large sections of text if you dislike it.
The basic building blocks of research papers are paragraphs. Each paragraph should be focused on one claim or idea that helps establish the overall argument or purpose for the paper.
To avoid accidental plagiarism, it’s important to keep track at all times of citations. Make sure you keep track of the source every time you use it.
7. The introduction to a research paper should answer three questions: Why, how, and what? The introduction should explain what the paper is about and why it is important to read. It also explains how your arguments will be built.
What should I write? What should you write?
Why? This is the most important and difficult part of the introduction. Answer the following questions briefly: What new information or insight are we offering? Which important issues can your essay help to define or answer?
How do you do it? How?
8. Writing is a difficult task. It is often hard to organize all the information. An outline can help. The outline can only be used as a guideline. You have the freedom to change the order of the information and arguments.
Your topic sentences and thesis statements can help you stay on the right track. You can check:
* Topic sentences in place of the thesis statement
* Topic sentences against one another, for similarity and logical order;
* Each sentence must be compared to the topic sentence in that paragraph.
Pay attention to paragraphs that appear to cover the same topics. Two paragraphs that discuss the same topic must be approached in different ways. Smooth transitions should be made between paragraphs, sections, and sentences.
9. The conclusion of a research paper is meant to guide the reader through the argument and give them a sense that it’s done.
Follow the paper’s course and emphasize how it all fits together to support your thesis statement. Make the paper feel final by explaining how you have resolved the issues in the introduction.
The paper can also be used to discuss the general implications of the argument, to outline the benefits it offers future students, and to raise any questions that the paper cannot or won’t answer.
It is not recommended that you:
* Provide new arguments or important information
* Do not take up more space than is necessary
* Start with stock phrases to signal that you are closing the paper (e.g. “In conclusion”)
10. The second draft
When it comes to the second draft, there are four key considerations.
1. You should compare your vision of the paper with the first draft. Also, make sure that your paper answers the assignment.
2. Keep your reader’s perspective in mind as you identify assumptions that may need (more substantial) justification. If you are unable to support them, remove these points.
3. Open to changing your ideas. You should examine whether certain sections feel out-of-place and whether your ideas could look better.
4. You can either cut out or condense old ideas if they don’t fit your expectations. It is possible that you have new, well-suited ideas during the first draft. Now is the time to incorporate them into the paper.
11. During the revision and proofreading process, the goal is to make sure you have completed all tasks and that your paper is as clear and concise as possible.
* Verify that your paper has completed all tasks specified in your assignment.
* Check the flow and logical organization of paragraphs.
* Compare the paragraphs to the introduction and thesis statements.
Make sure you are reviewing the content of every paragraph.
* Each sentence supports the topic sentence.
* No unnecessary or irrelevant information is included.
* All technical terms that your audience may not be familiar with are identified.
* Next, consider sentence structure, grammar errors, and formatting. To show the connections between ideas, make sure you use transition words and phrases correctly. Check for typos and eliminate unnecessary words. Also, ensure consistency in heading formatting and spellings.
You must ensure that your paper conforms to the formatting rules for the particular citation style. You might have to add an MLA heading, or an APA title page.