Writing a research paper is no easy feat, but it is a skill that students need to succeed in college and beyond. A good research paper takes time, effort and ample editing.
First, your topic must be well-researched and relevant. According to Academic Writing Professor Hila Hirad: “Read, read, read. It is important to self-educate by doing both primary and secondary research.”
Sources like scientific journals, books, journalistic articles and government documents are the most preferable sources. Typically, community edited websites, blogs and YouTube videos from people with no credentials are not credible sources.
There is no single right way to write a research paper. What works for one person may be a miserable failure for the next.
But there are things that students can do to ensure higher grades that have little to do with a paper’s content. For example, not meeting or exceeding an assignment’s length requirements often results in point deductions.
Additionally, students often forget to edit their papers before turning them in. According to Professor Hirad, “One of the main problems I usually see is in the areas of spelling, punctuation errors, type-o’s and other simple problems that can be fixed by proofreading and peer review.”
My research paper writing technique begins with heavy brainstorming. After establishing a topic, I create a bulleted list of links to articles, videos, documentaries and other sources that relate to my topic.
Then I begin gathering and noting information that engages me. It is important to gather different perspectives as they often shine a light on aspects of my topic that I may not even be aware of. Understanding different arguments and perspectives about my topic allow me to formulate a well-crafted thesis statement, or a sentence that shares my opinion and briefly describes how I intend to support my opinion throughout my paper.
Once I have a list of sources, notes and opinions about my research, I begin creating an outline and drafting. As I outline all of my main points, I research from my list of sources to find information that supports my thesis statement.
Then I begin assembling the puzzle, compiling my notes and quotes into a rough draft. It is much easier to write the paper with a collection of notes and source of information in front of me.
I aim for each paragraph to represent a different idea that supports my thesis. I try to include a topic sentence, at least one quote and a detailed analysis that ties everything back to my thesis statement.
After I complete my rough draft, I edit, re-edit, and edit again. I also seek peer reviews because new eyes give me new ideas. Peer review also offers an opportunity constructive criticism that may be a big help when writing a research paper.
FRCC’s writing center offers free peer reviews to students. It is staffed with English professors who sit with students, read their papers and give helpful feedback. The online writing lab is also a handy tool for students who cannot visit the writing center in person.
Writing a research paper ultimately boils down to putting in hours of research, writing and editing. Just breathe, relax, and get to work!
Written by Joshua Speer
Photo by Kayla Klein