A research paper as a type of academic writing that has factual and theoretical information that has gone through in-depth research. According to thesisgeek.com, it could also contain thesis-based arguments supported by significant evidence from a variety of reliable sources.
Many say that research paper writing is challenging because of the conscientiousness, painstaking, and meticulousness it demands. However, with enough practice, you could eventually find it easier.
It’s a meticulous task because of the level of research work it requires. But, looking at the bigger picture, you’ll find that you only need a few basic tips for a research paper to become less challenging.
10 Tips for Writing an Effective Research Paper
When you have nothing to start with except that you have a prompt or an assignment to produce a research paper, the following steps will help you write the paper, and you’ll end up with a well-crafted essay.
1. Get familiar with the assignment
Ever wonder why some students get low grades on a paper they work hard to put together? It’s often because they do not have an understanding of what their professor requires of them before they begin writing.
It would help if you spent enough time going over the instructions of the assignment. Look into the grading rubric, prompt, and other materials given. Take time to understand what you’re asked to write and how it’ll be graded and ask questions where things are not clear.
2. Pick a Topic
The next step is to pick a topic that can be daunting. However, you don’t have to get all worked out with it. The first key is not to worry about picking the perfect topic. Then, it helps if you choose a topic you are interested in or passionate about.
You might also want to pick controversial topics because such topics give room for you to exercise objectivity, explain the difference in positions, and defend your position if the assignment calls for it. If you pick a topic but find it challenging to fit the topic into the required guideline, choose another topic.
Research is the backbone of any academic writing. People research in several ways. However, specific characteristics are common: skimming, finding reliable resources, and not ignoring information.
The first research step is to skim through materials relevant to your topic. Quickly identify points and arguments that can help you make your point. The next step is to determine the source of the useful resource you find.
You can’t use all sources. You need reliable ones. Finally, don’t ignore information. You need to confirm everything you read, that one source says it doesn’t mean it’s true. Use only proven facts.
4. Organize Your Research
Now that you have found many valuable materials and information, how do you put them to use? Here is where organizing your research comes into play. Organize the information in a way that’s useful to you. It’s a personal adventure.
If your assignment requires you to offer some bibliography, create one that meets your paper’s requirement. You might want to bookmark the relevant sources you find on the internet. Making of sticky notes and notecards are also ways to organize your research.
5. Form a Thesis
Even if your paper isn’t a debate about anything, you still need a thesis. This stage is where you articulate your arguments, opinion, or assertion. Your thesis is a short statement that captures the idea of your research writing, showing to your readers what you are trying to explain or prove.
Your thesis needs to be definitive but not be about you. It must not be vague as well. Don’t be afraid to make strong statements, and importantly, make sure your thesis is arguable.
6. Create an Outline
The outline you create defines the structure of your paper. Don’t try to be formulaic or sophisticated with it. However, you can find it helpful to follow guides and patterns. As you try to create an outline, think critically about what you’re trying to communicate and explain in your research paper and organize your way around that.
Now is the time to start writing your paper. You might feel you started writing late, but rest assured that if you have started earlier than now, you might find it challenging to produce a well-crafted paper. The work you’ve done so far is important. However, as you write, try not to be a perfectionist. The time for that will come.
8. Edit for Content
Now, pick up your perfectionist characteristics because you’ll be editing your paper at this point, getting ready to turn it over. Begin the process by checking for content, which means that you think about the structure, wording, organization, and length of the paper. Does it still follow the outline you created, and most importantly, does it make sense?
9. Edit For Grammar
Here is where you deal with semi-colons, commas, or run-on sentences. And, like when you are editing for content, it also requires running through the entire paper. There are a couple of tools and resources that can help you through this process, such as grammarly.com, etc.
10. Read Again and Submit
Here is the last stage, and you’ll have to read through the paper again. However, this time, you’ll need to take a break off the paper. A day or two will be ok. The reason is that, by now, you’ve probably memorized a few of the lines in your paperwork. Therefore, it’s easy to jump over errors.
Take a break to refresh your memory, then come back to read for the last time, correcting what needs to be corrected. Then finally, submit your well-crafted research paper where appropriate.
If it is your first time going through step one to ten, you might find it a little challenging. Don’t sweat it. It’s normal. However, the more you follow the steps and the more the papers you write, the better you become.