How to Write a Research Paper

How to write a research paper: from getting a task to A++

This article is a perfect guide for writing an A++ research paper. It points out the logical steps of the work from the very beginning to the final result. To achieve the set goal, you need not only knowledge on the topic but also be patient and follow the rules and requirements. We recommend you to follow the steps of writing a research paper mentioned in the article. This will make getting A++ possible.

PICK OUT A TOPIC

“If you do not know where you are going, you will end up in the wrong place” (Yogi Berra, a famous baseball player). This statement has much in common with the research process. If you do not know what exactly you are looking for, in the end you can spend time learning interesting but irrelevant facts. Try to formulate a clear question of your research from the very beginning. Choose an extensive topic, do a quick preliminary study before you formulate a specific question.

  • A good research question should be clear. For example,

Bad choice: Why is healthy eating important?

Correct: Is there a link between a healthy lifestyle and personal effectiveness?

  • A good research question should be important. For example,

Bad choice: Who was the most important writer?

Correct:  How did Shakespeare influence the use of extended monologues in Moby Dick Melville?

  • A good research question should be scientifically researched. For example,

Bad choice: Why a son is like a father?

Correct:  What are the consequences of the authoritative style of upbringing on the dignity and creativity of the child?

At this stage of working on research paper, get approval from your teacher. Make sure your work does not go in wrong direction.

COLLECT INFORMATION

There are two basic sources: print and Net. Though, if one in many cases can be neglected, the other one is a core stone of all scientific activity in modern life. Start with searching material online. Remember, moving on the first three links shown to the first query might be not a path of wisdom when writing a research paper. Assess the suitability of the found materials critically, do not rush. First, look through everything that the search engine finds for you, only then draw conclusions. Sites, blogs and forums are not the most reliable sources of information.

In general, sites on .edu, .gov or .org domains can be trusted, as these are sites of schools, government or organizations related to the topic you are researching. Evaluate websites critically and make sure you use trustworthy data.

Change the search query to get different results. If nothing is found, you need to change the query. It is quite possible that it does not overlap with the headings of articles that would be useful to you.

For general and background information, use almanacs or encyclopedias online such as Britannica and Wikipedia. Such sites must be used smartly. You can start your search there, read the general information on the topic and, most importantly, look at the used literature mentioned below the article. This can lead you to several useful sources of literature.

In order to find books in the Library you can use the OPAC (Online Public Access Catalog). You can also visit university or public library. This can bring you some unique information, although it is time consuming. You can also contact government agencies, as well as specialists in the researched topic.

Use academic search engines if you want to conduct research online. The following search engines will save you a lot of time:

  • Education iSEEK
  • RefSeek
  • INFOMINE
  • Academic Search in Microsoft
  • Wolfram Alpha

While you are doing research, it is very important to avoid the trap of feeling lost. If you find an article that you especially like, keep the link to it. Otherwise, you can spend a lot of time trying to find it again, thinking that this is the best resource that you could find.

However, with the help of modern data management tools, you can easily save all the necessary information and even understand it and sort it out:

  • Mendeley
  • Qiqqa
  • Endnote Basic
  • Colwiz

THINK OF THE STATEMENT

On the next stage, when you already know the topic and have an idea of information you gathered, you need to think critically. Write down your thesis statement in one sentence. Keep in mind that your thesis statement is the central idea of your paper. Your essay will mostly consist of arguments and information to support and defend this idea.

MAKE A DRAFT OUTLINE

Organize your thoughts and information from the found sources. Write down the plan of future paper. All points are related to the one major topic, which is mentioned in the capital Roman numeral.

Look at the example of an outline:

  • I.  INTRODUCTION – (Introduction usually describes: the rationale for choosing the topic of research paper, the object and the subject of research, the purpose and objectives of the study, hypothesis, research methods, novelty of the research work (if available), theoretical and practical impact (if available))
  • II. BODY – Preparation for the research (for example)
    • A. Early life in Stratford
      • 1. Historical Background
      • a. Early times
      • b. Latest discoveries
      • 2. Information Gathering
      • 3. Conducting a questionnaire
      • 4. Safety precautions (described if necessary)
    • B. Carrying out the research (for example)
      • 1. The first stage of the study
      • 2. The second stage of the study
      • 3. Final stage of the study
    • C. Analysis of the results
      • 1. Supporting/rejecting hypotheses
      • 2. Comparison of gained data with similar research
  • III. CONCLUSION (Results of research work and conclusions of the paper)
    • A. Analytical summary
    • B. Thesis reworded
    • C. Concluding statement
  • IV. References (Each included source must be reflected in an explanatory note. Do not include in this list works that were not actually used.)
  • V. Annexes (Diagrams, graphs, charts, photographs, tables, maps. Auxiliary or additional materials that clutter the paper are placed in annexes.)The outline of the research project is made very carefully, complying with all the alignments.

ORGANIZE INFORMATION

The annotation process can take a lot of time, but this is not the end – you need to put your materials in order, so that later it is easier to work. In this case, it will be appropriate to divide all the information by categories according to your draft outline. For example, analyzing a literary work, you can use the characters of the work, the list of references to certain moments of the plot, the symbolism of the text, and so on.

It will be good to write everything out on separate sheets or cards, so it is easier for you to re-categorize them.

It is also useful to work with colors. If you assign a separate color to each category, it will be easier to work. For example, everything that is associated with the heroes of the work is green, and everything related to the plot is orange.

Be critical, check the accuracy of data verify validity of information. It must be factual, up-to-date, and correct. At this stage, which is of high importance, you need to learn everything about the topic of research. Note the opposing views if they support your main thesis. Analyze, sort, synthesize, and digest evaluable information.

Delete information, which is not relevant to the topic of your research or which you do not understand.

STYLE OF RESEARCH PAPER

When writing a scientific text, it is important to understand that you are writing it not for yourself and not for your teacher, but for a reader who might be unaware of the topic and not able to understand even one simple thought, if you do not explain it in detail.

Do not be afraid of simplicity. It’s the key to success. Explain your ideas, thoughts and conclusions. What seems logical for you, might be different for others.

Remember that there are no statements with which everyone should agree. Often in the work, phrases like “it is obvious …”, “everyone knows that …” are followed by not obvious thoughts. Your view of things or what seems to you a common view of things is a position that you need to justify in a good way, no matter how difficult it may be. Criticism of “non-obvious evidence” is the most important task of your work.

Researchers have to deal with specific scientific terms or names that are not used in ordinary speech. At the first mention each such term should be explained. This is important not only for the dull reader, but for you: by explaining the term, you can make sure that you understand it. The same applies to the people mentioned.

Correct breakdown into paragraphs is of great importance for the perception of the text. A paragraph is a semantic unit of text, often more important than a sentence. Meaningful division of the text into paragraphs therefore not only facilitates reading, but also allows the best way to formulate a thought or tell a story. Here it is better to follow the following simple rules:

  • A paragraph should contain no more than one complete thought or a meaningful fragment of history. You should not start a paragraph with one thought, inappropriately quote the source in the middle and end with an analysis of the fragment just mentioned.
  • Paragraphs should not be too long or too short. Do not write each new sentence with a red line, but do not forget to break text that takes more than a page into two or three paragraphs.

WRITE THE FIRST DRAFT

Start with the body of your outline. When the main part is ready, proceed to the introduction and conclusions. Make the introduction convincing. Win reader’s attention with interesting statistics, shocking facts or quotes of famous people. In the main part of the research paper, discuss the significance of a your study.

Plan the number of words of every point of the outline. According to the general rule, spend up to 10 percent of the total number of words on the introduction and about same amount on the conclusion. Considering the recommended number of words, make appropriate decisions regarding the number of words to be included in other parts.

The introduction should provide background information, indicate the importance of research on the given topic, and formulate the main research questions.

Consider the goals of the sections. The conclusion should be brief, as it is a summary of your research. It is written after the completion of your project. In conclusion, point out only results of the research (without any remarks).

Include existing opinions on the selected topic into the literature review.

Do not forget to underline the value of your research work, and also to mention the directions for further research.

When working with literature sources, summarize, paraphrase or quote in the right way. Do not forget about Plagiarism detection. Correctly quote your resources. Referring to sources, it is not necessary to use the style guide, since this is an obsolete method, instead, consider using free online citation generators:

  • CitationMachine
  • BibMe
  • Citefast
  • CiteThisforMe
  • RefMe

REVISION OF RESEARCH PAPER

The most important skill in writing a scientific text is the ability to distinguish your thoughts and information that you yourself extracted from sources from what is contained in special literature (printed books or articles on the Internet). Quoting other people’s texts and thoughts without specifying the source, you risk of being accused of plagiarism, that is a theft of other people’s ideas. And this is not the worst thing.

You need to specify the source of information, because it shows the level of your professionalism, best demonstrates the amount of work done. A large number of links shows how many books you actually read and how much information has been processed. Correctly mentioned source allows you to protect yourself from the mistakes of the author whose book you’ve used (and there are no books without errors). Finally, the correct source materials allow you to better show what you did yourself and what your role in the study is. Try to emphasize your merit as eloquently as possible (and at the same time tactfully, not directly).

Do not forget to put quotes if you quote the text verbatim or just a link, if you retell it. If there are unofficial facts in your work, do not forget to indicate where they are mentioned. If what you write contradicts the information in any books, indicate it by all means.

“Write drunk, edit sober.” This quote is erroneously attributed to Hemingway, but there is no official evidence that he has ever said or written it. However, it makes a lot of sense. Postpone your work for a while, and then return to it later, with a fresh head and eliminate all typos, grammatical and stylistic errors.

Read your paper to find any content errors. Rearrange ideas and parts of the text if needed to follow the outline. Reconsider the outline if necessary, always remembering about the main purpose of the paper. Check grammar. Dictionary or a thesaurus might be helpful. Do a spell check. If possible, ask someone to read the paper over.

FINISHING THE WORK

When all the previous stages are completed, type and print the final research paper. Read it once again carefully checking for spelling, punctuation, missing or duplicated words. Check out the requirements on formatting and make sure everything is correct.

The final paper must be clean, tidy, neat, and attractive to the eye. Always finish the work couple days before the deadline.