Writing a research paper shouldn't have to be a complicated task if you can get to organize your thoughts and take a step to step approach to your writing. Before you begin to work on your research paper, it is important to understand what it is and what it entails.
What Is a Research Paper?
A research paper is a long piece of analytical writing on a particular topic that presents facts, findings and their interpretations backed by substantial evidence. The reason it's called a research paper is that it takes some research at each stage of the writing process, whether it's choosing a topic or drafting the paper. A research paper should not only report on the opinions and views of others but should also express a clear point of view. Thus, you will want to bring together different perspectives on a given topic and then interpret the information into your own form of writing. A good research paper is one that presents the ideas of others with proper documentation while distinguishing between fact and opinion.
How to Write a Research Paper?
Any researcher will need to follow a series of steps for successful research paper writing. The are no short cuts when it comes to this as the researcher has to follow through the process of establishing a topic, conducting a research, determining a methodology, organizing ideas, drafting the first draft, writing a bibliography and finally revising the first draft.
However, depending on the subject and your level of knowledge on the subject, you may find that you are not able to move through the steps in chronological order, and that's okay too. For instance, at times, you will need to do a thorough background research before you can develop a research question or may need to gather additional sources to support your viewpoint. The steps discussed here are a guide to helping you prepare and write a successful research paper.
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• Establish a Topic
The first step in writing a research paper is choosing a topic that is of interest to you. Without interest in the subject of study, you are likely to lack the enthusiasm and effort needed for your research paper. Find a topic that you can comfortably manage while making sure that you narrow it down to a particular area, period and location. At this stage, it is crucial to work with your instructor/teacher and obtain the full approval before embarking on thorough research. A good topic should also have a sufficient material to support your viewpoints.
• Find Information
Research, research, research! Research is essential to helping you find useful information that supports your topic. Analyze your topic by breaking it into smaller sections so as to have a clear picture of what kind of information you are looking to find. Check the library catalog and read through encyclopedias, books, magazines, videos and government publications on your area of study, making sure the sources are reliable and diverse. Check out online resources to locate scholarly journals and other relevant URLs while ensuring that you note down the full bibliographical information, as providing information without proper citation of the source is useless.
• Organize Your Thoughts
Having read and taken notes on your topic, you may want to develop a preliminary concept map or outline as it helps in organizing how you will present information to your readers. By creating a clear outline for your paper, you will realize that it becomes much easier to write.
The components of a standard research paper include a title, introduction, body, and conclusion. For the introduction part, you will need to present the relevant background information and explain the focus of the paper by writing your thesis statement. The body is guided by the outline that you created earlier. Build on your paper by focusing on points you would want to make, remembering to include your sources into the discussion.
Depending on who your readers are and what direction you would lead them, there are different options for writing a strong conclusion. Besides explaining the significance of your findings, you could use the conclusion to make a prediction about the future, give specific advice or suggest the areas that need further research.
It is important to cite all the references raised in the research paper as it adds credibility and discipline to your writing as a researcher.
• Revising the Final Draft
Once you have written, you need to go through the draft severally to improve and make it ready for the reader's eye. Check the overall organization of the research paper and ensure that there is a logical flow of information, such that each paragraph provides information that relates to the thesis. Keep an eye on any errors in grammar, punctuation, sentence structures, and citations.
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