Steps in Writing a Research Paper
A series of steps, starting with developing a research question and working thesis, will lead you through writing a research paper. As you move through these steps and actually create the research paper, you may find that you can't move through all of them in chronological order, and that's o.k. In fact, you may change the order of the steps depending on the subject, your knowledge of the subject, and your sources. For example, sometimes you need to do just a bit of background research and reading before you can develop a research question. Sometimes you need to go back and find additional sources to corroborate your viewpoint. The research writing steps that we offer represent a general, ideal, movement through the research writing process. In reality, writers often repeat or circle back as needed.
Hey, wait a minute. . . why did we say "ideal?" In our opinion, these steps represent the best way to move through the writing process because they ask you to think and develop a research question before you actually do a lot of research. The one big mess that you can get into, as a student, comes from doing too much unfocused research before identifying your own viewpoint, the one that you will eventually need to support. If you do too much unfocused research first, then the tendency is to try to include all of it in the paper. The result is a hodgepodge of information that's not focused, developed fully, or indicative of your own thoughts. It's also not efficient to do too much research before you really know what you're looking for. Try it our way--develop that research question first--to cut out a lot of research paper mess.
These steps will lead you through writing a research paper:
- One Big Mess...
- Developing a Research Question
- Developing a Research Thesis
- Finding Sources
- Evaluating Sources
- Taking Notes
- Working with Quotations
- Writing Summaries & Paraphrases
- Building the Essay Draft
- Documenting Sources
- Revising and Proofreading the Draft
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BY AMANDA WILSON
When writing a research paper, your main responsibility is to discover something new on the basis of the already investigated knowledge. Basically, that’s the main purpose of an academic paper or essay. Although you can conduct a brand new research and have a scientific discovery, you still must present it in the right format. This implies that you must follow some academically accepted steps to write a research paper. Therefore, whether you are the next Nobel or Einstein, these steps will enable you to achieve the best results possible from your research paper.
Step 1: Select a Subject
You must be careful when selecting the subject or topic for your research paper because a topic will have a significant impact on your final grade. Ideally, choose a topic that suits your capability. To write a great research paper, choose a topic that you are interested in and make it as narrow as possible. While selecting a topic, state your objective clearly. What do you intend to achieve by conducting research and writing the paper? Choose a topic that enables you to find sufficient materials for research so that you can complete the paper with ease and accomplish your goals.
Step 2: Craft out an Initial Bibliography
Every research paper must be supported by information from credible and properly referenced sources. Therefore, come up with bibliography cards or even use a computer program to enter sources that you intend to use in your research. This makes referencing sources in the final paper easier. Use bibliography cards to store information about the books, internet sources and journals that you use to write your research paper.
Step 3: Prepare a Working Outline
An outline is a framework or a skeleton of the paper that you intend to write. A good outline makes writing a research paper easier and faster.
Here are some of the things that you should include in your outline:
- Issue: What does your paper revolves around or what does your paper intend to define?
- Thesis: What is the central idea of your paper? Your thesis may change as you conduct research and write the paper. However, it’s important that you have a thesis that conveys what you want to prove or propose.
- Main body: How many paragraphs or sections will your research paper have and what title/content will each paragraph or section have? Evidence, examples and main ideas of a research paper can be indicated using bullet points in the outline.
- Conclusion: This section gives you the final chance to convince readers of your paper to accept your argument or point of view.
Step 4: Start Taking Down Notes
Use books, journals and credible internet sources to conduct research on your topic and take down notes. Gather all the necessary information in your field. Focus on finding the main ideas, evidence and samples that you will use to support your thesis. Reference every note to make it easier to reference when writing the paper.
Step 5: Outline the Paper
Once you have taken notes, organize your information. Plan how you will use the information or notes to write your research paper. Decide what information will go where in your research paper. Organize your data in a way that maintains logical flow of information. Make sure that your organization makes ideas flow logically and smoothly. This includes where you place your supporting points, evidence and examples in the paper.
Step 6: Write the Rough Draft and Edit it
At this step, just write the paper without paying attention to grammatical and spelling errors. Focus on including the information that you gathered during research in the paper logically. Make sure you write a paper that meets the specified word count. The most important thing at this step is to have the writing done. Therefore, focus on including the topic sentence, elaboration, examples and evidence in the paper. Write a rough draft with the introduction, body and the conclusion.
After writing the rough draft, edit it carefully and thoroughly. Remove all spelling errors, sentence structure issues, typos, and factual errors. Check every sentence and paragraph of the paper to ensure that your message comes out succinctly and accurately.
Step 7: Write the Final Draft
Once you have written and edited the rough draft, compose the final draft of your research paper. Make sure that the final draft maintains a coherent structure and that one part flows to the next smoothly and logically. Make sure that your final draft maintains a clear linkage. Additionally, supporting evidence and examples must come out clearly in the final draft. Check the paper carefully to ensure that it addresses what you set out to address based on the title and thesis of the paper. References should be incorporated in the paper and the conclusion should wrap up your argument in a way that brings the paper to a logical end.
The above-listed steps will only guarantee you an extensively researched and successfully written paper if applied. However, you may not have time to write a research paper on your own. In that case, use a reliable research paper writing service to complete your paper.
Amy Wilson is a freelance writer at PaperWritten, her vocation is mentoring, which she does with pleasure. Thanks to Amy’s curiosity she finds everything in the world as a positive experience for a better future living.