Writing a good research paper is tough and can be a challenge for most students. This article will show you step-by-step guidelines to write one.
For most final term college and university courses, a big portion of your overall grade is going to be based on one assignment, and that is the research paper, such as a thesis. The main objective of the research paper is to show how you can apply the skills and knowledge you have learned in your school years and present it in one big assignment.
In this article, we are going to show how to write a research paper that will get you top grades easily.
What are the steps in writing a research paper?
1. Choose a topic that you understand
The topic should be something you’re interested in so that it is easier for you to understand and write about. (Although sometimes the topic is given by the professor where you have no or limited choice).
Writing a research paper or a thesis involves a lot of time and efforts. So make sure you narrow it down the ‘defined scope’ and don’t go too broad. Also, make sure that it is something you believe you can manage to complete without getting bored. You will be spending hours and hours on it! (And that’s why the program usually gives you 4 months to work on it).
2. Conduct research.
This is one of the important processes because, in your research paper assignment, you will need to show proofs, data, and quotes to back up your arguments and ideas. So choose a topic that there are lots of facts and references on, this will put you in big advantages. If you can’t find much information on your topic, then choose another.
There are many ways to perform research.
- Online. For general information, you can usually find them on credible sources such as the online academic databases, Google Scholar, Google Books, Government websites, organization websites and more. Keep in mind that not all information online is reliable. Use your own judgment and common sense to determine if they are accurate. Assess how the information is presented and if there are any sources in their research. Avoid user-generated contents such as social media and forums. Furthermore, stay away from sites that are not written by specialists in a particular field, or information that are biased.
- Books and periodicals. These are often reliable sources – books, government gazettes, almanacs, publications, atlases, reports, catalogs, guides, magazines, scholarly journals, history, etc.
- Library. Consider dropping by one in your college or university libraries. They have more professional sources than your local community ones. You may also consider visiting museums and exhibits if you believe they have the information that you need.
- Experts. Another great way to gather data would be to talk to an expert in the field. You can find experts easily through LinkedIn or other professional directories. Don’t be afraid to reach out to them and politely ask for advice. Most experts are happy to help students.
3. Come up with original research.
Try coming up with original research. This will be your central point, which is also called the thesis statement. It is what you are going to focus on in your paper.
You don’t really need to spend so much time forcing yourself to think of something that’s ground-breaking. Original research just simply means a fresh insight that can push the subject matter forward.
- You can offer new evidence to confirm, disprove, or draw new conclusions about a hypothesis.
- Cover new grounds that may not have been explored before.
- Extend a position in a controversial topic by giving new discoveries, samples, or case studies.
- Provide a different point of view or a new piece of knowledge.
- Show a different way of understanding of a prevailing idea.
- Illustrate how valid or invalid a subject matter is.
- Apply an idea, formula, or principle to a different field of study.
- Conduct an experiment, survey, or simulation.
4. Make a research paper outline
Start creating a draft with an outline. Don’t forget to write down anything that’s necessary that you have researched and analyzed. Document and organize your notes. Doing so would enable you to have materials that you can include in your paper, and that can support your research.
Think critically through the materials that you have gathered. Include dissenting views as well as those that support your thesis statement. Exclude information that is not necessary, especially the ones that are inaccurate or unreliable.
In the main body of your research paper, lay out the discussion in a logical manner. Structure your ideas in a way that they flow neatly. For lengthy statements, consider breaking them down into paragraphs. You can also split the topic into subtopics to better present your ideas. Also, use subheadings to improve readability.
Jot down all prior studies, facts, findings, and scholars that you’re sitting in your paper. This will help you avoid plagiarism and ensure that you give proper credit to original sources.
- Name of the author
- Published date
- Title of the work
- Publication: name of the journal, page number, series/volume number, folio number, and date.
- For online sources: website link, original publish date, access date, modified by date, company or organization, etc.
What are the basic parts of a research paper?
- Title Page. It contains information about you, the topic, your school, teacher, and date of submission.
- Abstract. It is a quick summary of what the research paper is all about.
- Introduction. The introduction gives an overview of the research paper and declares the thesis statement. It defines the questions that the paper seeks to address. It also spells out the goal and tells readers the major points that you will be covering in the main body, as well as the methods you are going to use to meet the objectives that you have set.
- Body. The body contains the main discussion. This is where you are going to present your arguments, proofs, and data to support your thesis statement. Remember to include any studies, surveys or materials that you have used. Present any tables, graphs, figures, and interpretation.
- Conclusion. This is the point where you explain your findings. Write down the reason why you’ve reached a conclusion from the research. State again the thesis statement, and circle back to the questions mentioned in the introduction. You can also recommend an area of particular interest for future studies.
- References. This part contains any studies done by other people that you have used in your paper. Its main purpose is to give proper attribution. The formatting style depends on the subject matter. For instance, social sciences follow the American Psychological Association (APA) standard, while liberal arts utilize the Modern Language Association (MLA). Check with your teacher, college or university which style to use.
Review and polish
Since most research papers and thesis are long, make sure to review your work multiple times. Review your draft, check information accuracy, the overall flow of the presentation and lastly, make sure conclusions are well-supported by evidence or arguments.
Give it your best polish. Get someone to copyedit and proofread your work. The presentation of the research paper can also affect your grades – check everything such as margins, typography, spacing, etc.
What are the types of research paper?
There are many types of research papers, including:
- Argumentative. This type of research paper covers both sides of a debate, issue, or discussion. Its end goal is to forward one particular side through informed reasoning and careful weighing of facts and arguments.
- Analytical. An analytical research paper describes the subject matter fully and then draws out a conclusion. It is usually done to sort and assess a situation, work, idea, or topic.
- Causality. Also known as the cause-and-effect research paper, it is characterized by uncovering the relationship between actions and results within a specific situation or context.
- Survey. As the name suggests, it involves creating a survey to a target population, interpreting the results, and coming up with conclusions. It is used to gather preference, popularity, opinion, and prevailing social attitudes.
- Experimental. The goal of an experimental research paper is to test a hypothesis and to check if it’s valid. An experiment is done, results are gathered and interpreted, and a conclusion is then made.
- Problem-solution. A problem-solution research paper defines an issue, attempts to find solutions, and defends their suitability and effectiveness.
- Compare and contrast. This type of research paper tries to find similarities or differences between the two subject matters, styles, philosophies, viewpoints, etc.
Learning to write a thesis and research papers can be a great experience for all students. Majority of your final semester courses would require them, and it’s not something students get to choose.
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