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Tips for Writing a Research Paper
“You can always edit a bad page,” says author Jodi Picoult. “You just can’t edit a blank page.” And she’s right about a few things. First, you have to get something on that page. Second, editing and rewriting are key whether fiction or a research paper. Simply put: You plan your paper, write a draft, you or someone you trust reads and makes notes, and you rewrite. And yes, it’s okay to get that second set of eyes, whether a teacher, editor, or trusted professional.
But what are some tips for writing a research paper to get me started, you ask? And so I know how to get from start to finish. Good question. To help, we’ve put together these tips on how to write a research essay with flying colors. Keep reading so you know what to do from start to finish, including getting notes, rewriting, and polishing. When you’re done checking this student college research guide, you’ll be ready to dive right in.
Pick a Topic and Write a Clear Thesis
Get clear on what you want to research. This is your topic. If it’s not assigned, find something you’re interested in to make this a fun project. Yes, writing can be fun. Pick one topic and be clear. Sometimes it helps to turn the topic into a question you want to answer. Your paper is you communicating the answer you found to your question.
Sometimes you have a definite opinion already at this stage. This is your thesis statement. If you don’t know your opinion, get clear on what you think the answer to your question is. Here are three options for types of thesis statements:
- State your opinion which you will then defend in the paper;
- State information that you will explain in the paper;
- State the question that you will analyze in the paper.
It’s important to be very clear here because this determines what you will research. Your research will provide evidence for your thesis. You can always edit the way the statement is worded but the gist of it should stay the same. If you have an opinion and your opinion is swayed by the research, you can then state that in conclusion, making for an interesting paper!
This is the research part. Based on your thesis statement gather the information/evidence that you need to either defend your opinion, explain an expository topic, or analyze/analyze a question or idea. Do studies, interviews, or experiments. Take copious notes. Get quotes. Keep track of references.
Build an Outline
This is your road map. You need it and must follow it to get to your destination: you standing there with an awesome finished research paper in hand. Start by setting things up for the reader. Say what your thesis is and explain your process.
Next, discuss what you found. Each section can explain a certain point. Try to break it down into small chunks to keep it all manageable. You’ll finish by talking summing up your findings. Here are the key items to get in your outline/paper.
Start with a title page. Next comes the abstract which states what is in the paper. It’s short and concise and includes the purpose, findings, scope, and a layout of what to expect, all in a quick statement.
Next is an introduction followed by a description of what your process was. This is your methodology. It precedes your findings. The heart of your paper comes next: the discussion. Give each topic in the discussion at least a bullet point in your outline. And voila, you’re at the conclusion. Easy peasy. Get these six items in your outline and you’re ready to start writing.
Write the First Draft
This may be the hardest part. Or you may totally enjoy it. Either way, just get your bottom in the chair and power through. That’s what we have on research paper tips in this section.
Oh, and remember that you have all the information gathered and an outline to follow. Just get it in there without making it perfect because you are going to rewrite and look at it with fresh eyes and possibly another set of eyes, and it will all be clear.
Get a Fresh Set of Eyes to Read Your First Draft
Put the paper down for a day before you reread. Also, if you want, get another set of eyes. It’s always helpful and easy to go with a professional that offers research paper writing services. A professional can also help you hone in on sections that need to be developed.
Sometimes it helps to get someone to take a look at your outline before you begin. But this depends on you. If you do this, be sure to show the person your thesis statement too. With fresh sets of eyes, read and take notes on the changes you want to make. These may be further fleshing out ideas or cutting out things that really don’t help support your thesis or explain anything.
Edit and Rewrite According to Your Copious Notes
Once again, this is about sitting in that chair and doing it. You have your notes that are your new road map. Just follow them and you will be fine and done.
Read and Rewrite Until Done
Repeat steps five and six until you have no more notes. Then, pat yourself on the back!
Tips for writing a research paper: Polish Until It Sings
You have what you want to say down. Bravo! That’s the most important part. Now, you just want to make sure it looks good for the reader. This involves a few things. Sometimes it helps to hire someone to do this part as it’s really just technical and not about what you are saying.
First, copy edit. This means read each sentence to make sure it reads easily and is grammatically correct. Polish and fix as needed. Second, proofread. Just be detailed and go over it a couple of times unless you hire someone to do it. You can use spell check and Grammarly.com as needed. In this step, be sure that all references are properly formatted and match. Be sure to double-check page numbering too.
Tips for Writing a Research Paper Into Action
Now that you know the basic tips for writing a research paper, you’re ready to jump into action. As you can see, it’s simple as long as you do the footwork: plan, gather notes, rewrite, and polish. Also, remember rewriting and rereading with fresh eyes always has your back. It’s like the magical wand of writing. Also, all the great online references and help are like magic too.
To start, do your research on how you want to proceed. Pick a writing service if you want to go that route and have professional guidance. Also, look up and get all your online tools in place like Grammarly or even reference citing basics.