From my experience, college students write at least one research paper before graduating. Composing a perfect paper, or other long papers like thesis and term papers could be stressful, especially if you have never done it before. I'll offer you some writing insights for free, that will make you a pro researcher.
Research writing has proven to be challenging among college students, but with a little practice, it can become an important part of our academic and professional toolkit.
Without wasting any time, let's get directly to the 10 basic steps that you need to follow to write a strong research paper that guarantees you good marks and the right experience.
The Research Writing Process
1. Familiarize yourself with the Task
Before you start writing your research paper, or any other work, be sure of what the professor or instructor is asking for. It may seem obvious, but it's very important. Not reading instructions is one of the main reasons why students receive low marks.
For instance, the instructions may require you to select a topic from the professor's list. If you skip this and find your own topic, despite being interesting, the instructor may as well ask you to mark it yourself. For sure, is that what you were supposed to write about?
You may, however, request the professor to approve your topic. Follow the instructions carefully, and ask where you're unsure.
2. Topic Selection is Key
Finding a research topic is one of the most fundamental aspects of research writing. According to SmartWrite, there are at least five basics factors of a research paper topic - it should be interesting, manageable, not overexploited, approved by the instructor, and lastly, consider the availability of research materials.
However, you must follow the professor's guidelines to help pick a suitable topic. Make sure
the subject you're exploring is in line with your course or profession.
Here are some topic selection tips:
This is the main goal of any research paper - to engage in research, present findings, analyze them, and conclude - offering relevant recommendations and solutions to address the research problem. Be sure that the professor will be examining your researching skills.
Different people will research for a paper in different ways. Nonetheless, it's fundamental to be focused.
While researching, you should consider skimming - you don't have to read all the research materials at the beginning. Scheme through the materials to see if they could contain the information you're looking for. You should also find reliable resources. Don't ignore any crucial information - whether it's in support or against your topic.
4. Organize your Research
Finding relevant research information is not enough - you need to present your findings in an organized manner. Your content should flow. The structure of your research proposal or project may vary depending on the course or professor's instructions.
You may require to turn in a bibliography with your research paper. Again, you need to be sure of what the assignment is all about. Check if the instructor has highlighted the key elements that you should focus on while writing your research paper.
5. Thesis Formulation
By now, you should have understood the research topic, already selected a relevant topic, and researched. Now, you need to formulate a thesis - a statement answering the question, what is your research paper about? Whether your paper argues or not, you need a thesis statement.
6. It's Time to Create an Outline
The outline highly depends on your assignment. For instance, an outline for an argumentative research paper may vary from the one for descriptive research. Have you checked if the professor asked you to turn in an outline? In such a case, by failing to do so, be sure you'd lose some marks. If you a lucky the professor may ask you to turn in the outline within some specified time. Be sure to follow the given guideline.
An outline helps you to be organized while writing your research paper - it ensures you remain focused and follows the instructions. Assign more word count to the sections that have more weight. After all, you're aiming for the highest marks, right?
7. Now, Write
Finally, it's time to actually write your paper. You may feel like you have wasted much time in the previous steps, but believe me, the work you have done will help you write a strong, interesting, and clear paper.
Please note that this is not the time to find the perfect words or grammar for your paper (not yet). You will have a chance to edit and proofread your writing in the later steps. For now, focus on writing, with the thesis statement, instructions, and outline in mind.
8. Edit your Content
Congratulations on writing your research paper on time. Now, get back to work. Your research paper is not yet ready to be turned in. But relax, you're not being told to redo the work - I know it's hectic - just a few amendments.
In the previous step, you weren't supposed to worry about perfection, but now you do. Think about the structure, organization, wording, and length. It's clear that you organized your paper based on the outline, does it really make sense? If it does, kudos! If not, why not make some changes? You still have time, right? But don't procrastinate.
This is a good point to refer back to the first step, does your paper follow the instructions? If not, where can you bring in the missing pieces? Read through your content and check if you can make the paper clearer.
Make sure your paper is well-cited to avoid losing marks. Failure to reference your work counts as plagiarism.
9. Grammar Editing
By now, you are sure that your research paper has followed the professor's instructions, is well organized and detailed, and is as clear as possible.
Some many materials and resources can help here. Have you heard of any proofreading websites? I'm not saying Grammarly or ProWriting Aid, but freelance writers who polish your papers in minutes?
You may need to take a break, between writing your content and editing for grammar. It may help you to get more focused, and improve your ability to identify and correct grammatical errors.
10. Re-read your Paper and Submit
Now that you have finished the 9 basic steps, it's time to take a break. Truly, you serve it. A day later (or a few hours if you don't have much time), you can read the print copy of your work. At this stage, you may identify some errors that you could have missed while reading your screen version.
If you are sure your research paper contains all information and is error-free, it's time to submit it.