Writing a Research Paper


Where should you begin?
Writing the research paper is not a simple task, but one that is quite manageable as long as you develop a plan and stick to it. Your plan should start with the creation of a realistic time-line, detailing all your researching, pre-writing, writing and proofreading activities. By having a time management plan in place, you will know exactly when you have to begin each task and how long you have for that task, thus eliminating that last minute rush just before the paper is due. Check your timeline periodically to see if you are adhering to your plan. Make adjustments as you progress through the research and writing stages.


What is a Research Paper?

Students are often asked to write papers based on the work of others rather than just their own experience.These papers require the use of primar yand/or secondary research. According to the fifth edition of MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, “Primary research is the study of a subject through firsthand observation and investigation, such as analyzing a literary or historical text, a film, or a performance; conducting a survey or an interview; or carrying out a laboratoryexperiment. Primary sources include statistical data, historical documents, andworks of literature or art. Secondary research is the examination of studies thatother researchers have made of a subject. Examples of secondary sources are books and articles about political issues, historical events, scientific debates, or literary works.”

To avoid plagiarism, primary and/or secondary research requires parenthetical documentation and a “Works Cited” page.Any topic of interest can be used for a research-based paper. However, the narrowed topic must meet three criteria:

1. The paper must deal with a significant issue.

2. The audience must gain more knowledge/insight from the informationprovided. The regurgitation of already known information is notsufficient

.3. Research papers analyze an issue, defend a position, or explain somecomplexity. Many research papers will accomplish all three purposes


Discovering, Narrowing, and Focusing a Re searchable Topic:

Try to find a topic that truly interests you
Try writing your way to a topic
Talk with your course instructor and classmates about your topic
Pose your topic as a question to be answered or a problem to be solved


Pointers to start: 

The steps to begin a research paper are similar to those of any other paper.

1. Make sure the criteria for the assignment is clear.

2. Choose a suitable subject if the option is available. Then narrow the subject to a topic.

3. Read about the topic. Become familiar with it.

4. Develop a preliminary outline or a series of research questions that reflects what needs to be discovered about the topic. It can be revised at any time during the process.

5. Begin to take notes. Use of index cards (4×6) or note sheets is recommended. See the Appendix for formats.

6. Write a first draft. Evaluate the information. Is the research complete? Remember to use peer editors

.7. Revise the first draft. Make any necessary changes based on the evaluation of the first draft. Begin addressing the issues of style and mechanics.

8. Write a second draft. Pay close attention to the parts of the paper. Is the introduction clear?

Is the body well developed with sufficient supporting evidence? Have authorities been introduced properly in the text?

Has appropriate documentation been provided?  Is the tense appropriate and consistent?

Is the voice clear? Does the conclusion follow from the body? Does it provide the reader with a sense of closure?

9. Organize the other parts of the paper. Pay special attention to the format requirements.

10. Prepare the final copy.



Plagiarism and Quotations 

When citing work, not only do you need a Works Cited page, but you need to quote within your paper 

To use MLA quotations: ◦ “quote” (Author, page number).

Quoting is easy and only takes minutes, use it to avoid getting expelled.

Using a submission checklist –

Using a submission checklist ensures that the paper is ready for submission. Be sure you have included all the necessary paper elements and have followed the stylistic guidelines.

1. Does your Title Page include title, author (your name), course, and date?
2. Are the page margins 1″ on all sides of the paper?
3. Are the pages numbered and double-spaced throughout?
4. Are punctuation and typing rules followed?
5. Have you avoided plagiarism by referencing all sources?
6. Does the Reference or Works Cited page follow strict style guidelines?
7. Are Appendices labeled and numbered properly?

To summarize:

1) Choose the Right Research Topic: Neither the research topic should be too long nor too short. It should be specific. You should able to get ample information on it to present your research paper. So start by choosing a topic in which you are really interested in.

2) Gather Information: Information can be gathered from variety of sources. You can use Books, Magazines, Encyclopedias, Internet etc. and can conduct interviews, surveys also.

3) Start Your Research: Jot down your main points. Look out for recent and reliable information. Recollect all of your thoughts and start writing a research paper.

4) Make a Outline of the Research : Put your all relevant thoughts in a logical order i.e organize your research paper in an appropriate manner starting from the stating of the topic, including thesis and conclusion at the end.

5) Make a Body of Your Research paper: Once you have an outline of the research you will able to link your views and evidences with the help of sentences, paragraphs, visuals, sounds or a combination of any of these. Put all your points in the order they will appear in the project. If you find that there is not enough information while writing your research paper you can always collect more relevant information.

6) Revise Your Paper: Check for grammar mistakes, spelling problems. Make sure that your ideas explained clearly.

7) Make a Final Draft: It should include all: introduction, supporting evidences with a logical conclusion.

8 ) Prepare a Bibliography: List all the sources from which you collected information for the paper.

9) Create a Title Page & Table of Contents: Title page should include some standard information like your name, topic of the research, your Mentor’s name. Table of contents should include topics, sub topics and the page no.s should be stated on which each is explained in your research paper.

10) Evaluate your Work:Make sure that you have completed all parts with overall neatness and put them into correct order without missing anything. Any borrowed material is properly acknowledged. Finally submit your paper on time.



Sources: Various:  scholarship-positions.com
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