At the end of each semester or throughout the entire academic year, all students are required to write at least one research paper. There is no doubt that the stress and work of studying can be exhausting for most students. Wouldn’t it be better if it didn’t have to be that way? In fact, it’s not as hard as it may seem at first, and it’s not as difficult as you may think. Having your work divided into smaller steps that can be handled easily will be the key to your success.
Besides having the right guidance, a clear plan of action, and some useful tools, you will also need some helpful advice to help you write a great research paper and remain motivated throughout the process. Here are some tips to help you simplify your work, so read on to learn how!
1. Make sure you understand the assignment.
In order to properly complete your writing assignment, you need to be absolutely sure that you understand what you are supposed to do. You should have received this information from your teacher or professor in the form of a lecture:
- The topic or idea of the research paper.
- There should be a minimum number of words or pages. In high school, a research paper may be as short as five paragraphs, while in college, it may be more than 15 pages.
- Citing your research properly.
- Topics that have been accepted and those that have been rejected.
- The formatting. This includes the structure, the double or single space, the font, and so on.
- There are other requirements, such as information regarding the submission process and the topic.
- The deadlines.
As long as you know and understand these details before you begin your work, it will be much easier for you to avoid having to redo anything. You can reach out to your teacher before you begin to ask any questions or clarify any things that you feel are unclear.
2. The topic of your research paper should be engaging
It is important to choose the right topic for your research paper.
Because a research paper entails studying various approaches, hypotheses, techniques, etc., you need to make sure the topic you would like to write about has also been studied by others, in addition to your own. Alternatively, you will definitely face twice as much difficulty in producing some substantial results from your research if you do not take the time and effort to do so.
There are many topics that can be challenging, especially those that have a strong emotional element to them. However, that doesn’t mean you should avoid them. It has to be said that if your instructor is willing to assist you in the process and provide you with detailed instructions on how to conduct the test properly, you should definitely consider taking the plunge. As a result, you may prove to the teacher that you’re willing and able to take on the additional work required, and your grade may even be boosted by doing so.
Choosing an interesting topic is also an important aspect of your research work, so you don’t get bored with the work and fail to complete it. I would like you to write down a few questions related to your topic that make you curious about finding the answers to these questions. You may wish to talk to your teacher for some directions on how to translate these questions and answers into a paper if you are unsure how to go about it.
If you are taking a course where you are required to submit your topic idea in advance, you will have to do so. In order to ensure not too many students are covering the same topic, instructors can request this information so they can ensure the topic meets their criteria and that there are no students covering the same topic at the same time. Don’t wait until the last minute if you need to meet with your professor to discuss the subject of your assignment, if you need to schedule a meeting in advance! Taking too long to complete your assignment could result in your teacher noticing that you’re procrastinating and taking advantage of others.
3. Find reputable sources of information
It is vital to use only credible sources of information if you want to make a thorough analysis of the topic and ensure that your research is based on facts and statistics that can be proven. Take advantage of services like Google Scholar, Google Books, or Microsoft Academic if you want to find out more about the subject matter. Using these types of resources, you can find scientific articles, journals, books, or other kinds of research materials in a variety of fields. The search engine will provide a list of relevant links based on your search query when you enter it. Listed below are a few other useful websites that you may find useful:
- Several websites with a .gov or .edu extension are also available for you to use.
- There are also a number of online libraries which offer detailed category lists, which may be worth checking out. You can find high-quality material in no time at all using resources like the National Science Digital Library (NSDL) or the National Academies Press (NAP). Click on the Search button after you have selected the category you wish to search in. There you have it! It’s as simple as that!
- It is worth mentioning that the wonderful world of encyclopedias is a wonderful resource if you want to know when some specific terminology appeared and when it appeared at all. In addition to that, you can find all the latest information on scholars’ achievements, theories they have developed, historical events that have taken place, and much more on encyclopedia.com or infoplease.com.
As a matter of fact, there is always the option of using the library at your school as well! A teacher may already have a list of recommended books or resources that will help you with your assignment, and you can certainly ask the librarian for assistance if you are having difficulty finding something.
Keep track of the sources you are going to use if you have quite a few sources you intend to use. The one thing that you might want to write next to each one on your list would be to make a short note explaining what exactly it is that you plan on using it for. A source may have a paragraph that discusses immigration laws, whereas another source may have a citation that discusses the theories on the evolution of life, for example.
4. Make a precise statement of your thesis
The next step is to come up with a thesis statement after a list of sources has been created. Although it may seem overwhelming at times, it is not necessary for you to feel overwhelmed by all of this.
It is important to remember that a thesis sentence is just a sentence or two at the end of your introduction paragraph that summarizes what you are trying to prove or argue about in the rest of the paper. The questions you are trying to answer are as follows:
- Can you tell me more about what you are researching?
- If you want to reach your goal, how are you going to do it?
- In order to prove your point, what are the methods that you will use?
- As a consequence of this, what do you expect to be able to accomplish?
You can easily write the sentence if you take a moment to look back over the sources and the thoughts you used to write it. Make sure that the items are arranged logically. There may be something that jumps out at you in this sentence. There are two possible reasons why you might not be able to come up with a thesis statement. Either you are looking at the subject from the wrong perspective or you are misinterpreting facts. Any concerns or problems you may have should be discussed with your teacher.
Additionally, you will likely need to have your instructor approve your thesis statement before it can be submitted. It may be that they can give you some additional direction on your assignment, but they may also want to alter your thesis in such a way that it is a better fit with the project at hand, or that it poses a more challenging challenge for you. This will result in a kind of mini-guide that will simplify the process of writing a rough outline for a paper that you will submit.
5. Prepare a rough outline
The first step to writing a good paper is to create a detailed outline for it. Basically, it is a map that you can use to help you find your way to your destination. It is important to follow a logical order in the outline, and to make sure that transitions are clearly outlined. What is the relationship between paragraphs 3 and 5, for example, and paragraph 4? It is quite possible that the paragraph 4 would be much more suitable for use as paragraph 6 than it would be as paragraph 4.
You should include the main idea of each subsequent paragraph in your outline, as well as your thesis paragraph. Under each of those ideas, you should add supporting ideas and thoughts as well so you can see how the essay will flow and also make sure that you do not leave anything out of the essay as you write it.
6. Complete your paper by writing a draft
Having finished your outline, you’ll be able to write your draft once you’re satisfied with it! If you want to get as close to the end result as you can now, then you can do that as rough as you want, but the more you get closer to the end result the less work you will have to do in the end. Once you have completed the draft of your paper, make sure you read it carefully over and make sure you have supported your thesis with your writing. You might also be asked to submit a draft of your completed project before it is turned in and some professors and teachers may provide you with feedback once you have completed it. A trusting friend of yours may be able to give you a second opinion if this isn’t the case.
Likewise, if you start writing and then find that your outline needs to be tweaked slightly, that’s perfectly fine and completely normal. As you work on your outline, you may discover additional ideas that will change it slightly in some way, or you may find that your transitions don’t work the way you expected them to. The outline can be viewed as a guideline – it doesn’t always have to be followed exactly as it is, but it is a good place to start.
Ensure that you have read over your work, cleaned it up, and checked it for mistakes in grammar and spelling before you submit it as your final draft.
7. Bibliography Formatting and Citations
Your paper will be considered plagiarized if you fail to cite the materials that you used in your research. Please make sure that you correctly cite your sources in order to avoid all unpleasant consequences. It would be impossible for someone to keep track of all the formatting rules and guidelines for different styles of academic writing such as APA, MLA, or other popular academic writing styles. Nothing to worry about. Several tools can be found on the internet that can assist you in this process.
Among them, there is a website called mendeley.com. There are some additional add-ons available that may be useful to you as well, apart from the free reference tool that comes with thousands of journals that you can reference. You’ll also be able to place sticky notes on .pdf documents that you would like to mention in your paper, which allows you to highlight, annotate, and highlight the materials you want to reference.
It is best if you ask your instructor if they would like you to follow certain formatting rules. There would be no point in writing all of them using APA and then finding out at the last minute that they require MLA.
BONUS: Tips For Writing an A+ Research Paper
It was our pleasure to walk you through the process of writing a research paper, but we also wanted to give you a few additional tips to enhance your chances of getting a high grade on your research paper.
Don’t mix up your notes with your sources
Keep your notes and sources separate when you are beginning to write a paper so that you can keep your notes organized. It is imperative that you follow this procedure in order to avoid committing plagiarism in the future. Even if you do not intend to do it, it is possible for you to be found guilty even if you do it unintentionally. Ensure that your paper is original by checking it against a variety of web sources on a regular basis, using tools such as unplag.com to detect plagiarism. To ensure accuracy, the search can also be restricted by excluding citations and references from the results.
Use index cards
You might be having a hard time keeping track of all your thoughts, ideas, sources, and sources of information even with an outline. It is definitely possible to stay on top of all of your tasks by using an index card.
Oftentimes, these cards can just contain a quick thought that comes to mind, but they can also be very useful for locating and properly plugging in source material as well. There are several things that should be included in them:
- The source’s name
- Line number for online sources and page number for books
- Use a relevant quote or idea
In addition to helping you reference something you’ve already read, these cards can also be used to help you write your outline. Whenever you have them all, you can either lay them out on the ground or on a table and group them according to your own ideas and the information that you obtained from your sources. There are several groups that make up your paragraphs. You might also want to add a little paragraph number to the top corner of the document in order to avoid mixing them up in the future.
You should also make use of bookmarks in the books that you are reading.
Avoid using “tricks” to make your paper appear longer
There is no doubt that writing a 15 page paper can be daunting. It doesn’t mean, however, that you should try to trick the reader in a way that makes it appear longer than it is. You will find that high school teachers and college professors are well aware of these facts, and if you do not disclose them, you could receive a lower grade or even fail the course. There will be a noticeable difference in their behavior.
The following are some examples of how this might work:
- Change the font to one that is similar to the requested font but slightly larger
- The use of 13 pt font when 12 pt font is requested
- A slightly larger line spacing than requested (1.1 paragraph lines instead of 1).
- Increased margins
- Please do not use contractions
If you follow these tips, you will definitely be able to write a good research paper which will get you a good grade in your class. Last but not least, the most important thing to remember is not to leave it until the last minute. Throughout the entire process, this means at every stage. In the process of writing a research paper, a lot of leg work is involved and many questions can arise as a result. The night before could lead to some serious problems for you if you keep it until the last minute. Wishing you all the best!