When studying in college and University, you are bound to face the task of writing a research paper. Sometimes the topic may be provided, and other times, you may have to narrow it down yourself. Either way, learning how to write a research paper requires dedication, time and a strict adherence to, a proper guideline. Whether you need to write a term paper, a master’s thesis or a doctoral dissertation here are some of the crucial steps that will guide you towards a successful paper.
The topic of your research paper is the first guideline on how to write a research paper. When choosing a research paper topic, focus on areas that capture your interests, and are not too narrow or too broad to discuss. Remember that readers will also look at your topic to decide if your work is worth reading. The topic should spark curiosity among readers, but also allow ample research and discussion of the subject.
For example, instead of writing about “Religion,” narrow it down to “Religion in America,” and even further to “Religion in California.” You can even narrow it further down to the specifics, i.e., “The Christian Religion in California. “Limiting yourself to the specifics allows you to reduce the volumes of information you have to read through and reduce the length of your research paper.
Here is a list of research paper topics to get you started
You can find information in books, encyclopedias, magazines, newspapers, publications, and on the internet. Ensure that all your sources are from certified publishers. As you surf the internet for information, focus on the domain extensions such as .edu(education), .org(organization) and .gov(government). Websites with such domains often provide researched facts.
One of the key factors to learn when learning how to write a research paper is to avoid business websites that are often out there for advertisement, and may not give the sources of information. However, some sites may not have the standard domain extensions. You should, therefore, find out if they belong to established research organizations before you cite them on your paper. As you collect information, remember to write down the sources for citation purposes at the end of your paper.
The thesis statement is the main idea in your research paper and should, therefore, be provided early, preferably in your introduction. When you write down your thesis statement, ensure that it meets the following:
· Explains your interpretation of the subject matter
· Informs the readers of your content
· Answers the question posed by the lecturer
· Presents your claim
Your thesis statement should be backed up by enough facts, and be disputable at the same time. It should also attempt to show new information, instead of sticking to general truths.
Here is a list of thesis statement examples to get you started
A research paper is primarily composed of the Introduction, Body, and Conclusion. However, the outline changes depending on the complexity of the paper expected. The following structure is universally common.
1. Title page (title, author’s name, University name, Department, Lecturer’s name)
2. Abstract (A summary of the paper)
6. Table of Figures, Appendix
Before making the final outline, create an informal framework that will guide you as you gather information. The informal draft can be composed of the introduction, body, and conclusion and can be used as a tick-off list during writing.
Your introduction should be brief and also introduce the thesis statement. It should also explain the main points to be covered, methodology and tell the readers why they should be interested in your paper. The body, on the other hand, should have enough evidence to support the thesis statement. You should have at least three strong points, and remember to give a counter-argument at the end. Lastly, write a conclusion to summarize the key points and call for action among readers. To know more about the research paper outline, read my previous article Planning Your Research Paper
Using your outline, write the first draft of your research paper. The first draft will probably be longer than the word limit allowed, but you will revisit this later on. Give detailed explanations of all your points, and list all your sources to avoid plagiarism.
Include all the necessary graphs, pictures, and pie charts you found during your research and offer brief comparisons for each to keep readers interested.
Once you are done with the first draft, you need to edit it to avoid unnecessary information and reduce wordiness. Editing will also help you fix errors in your grammar and sentence structure, and delete or rewrite any plagiarized information. Applications such as Grammarly can help you overcome these challenges.
As you carry on with editing, keep your word limit in mind. Ensure that the abstract and introduction are as brief as possible, but still detailed. The abstract and introduction offer an overview of the paper and should, therefore, be captivating to the reader, and give an excellent first impression.
When learning how to write a research paper, remember to include Table of Contents for longer papers, and number all your pages and images. All the diagrams used in your research paper should be neat and big enough for everyone to read. At the end of your tables and pie charts, give a brief comparison of the data gathered. Also, list all your citations in a correct and accurate format. Your instructor should confirm the citation format expected: APA, MLA or Chicago Manual Format.
As stated earlier, writing a research paper is time-consuming, and postponing your work till the last minute will overwhelm you. Start your research early to determine the topic that suits you best, and also find the best examples to support your thesis statement.
Ensure that you start your research and writing when you have maximum concentration. Writing while tired, sleepy or sick will limit your thinking, and give you poor scores. Eat and sleep well to boost your energy levels, and try to stay enthusiastic when writing. As you well know, your attitude towards the paper will influence the result.
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