Students’ life is one of the most exciting periods for every person who studies in high school, college, or university. New friends, funny stories, outstanding professors, amazing events, and lots of memorable moments that will remind about years of education. Everything seems fine; even numerous home tasks cannot distress you unless one day your professor gives you the assignment to write a research paper. Now you have faced a real challenge because writing a research paper is not a piece of cake. To cope with this task successfully and provide a quality paper, you need to have excellent critical thinking skills and be good in analysis. Besides, a research paper is not a 3-page essay that you can write in one day. You need to spend much time gathering credible information to satisfy the requirements of the assignment.
Table of Contents
What a Research Paper is
Even when students have enough time to write a good research paper, they often fail to get the highest grade. The most common reason for their unsuccess is the misunderstanding of what research paper is. So, let’s first give a proper definition of this term.
A research paper is a final product of a process that includes research, gathering valid sources, analysis of information, critical thinking, organization, and composition.A good research paper should include the following:
- investigation and evaluation of sources;
- analysis of different opinions about the research paper topic;
- arguments that support a thesis statement;
- author’s neutral position;
- credible facts and data.
To better understand the general idea of a research paper, let's also define what is not a research paper.A research paper is NOT:
- a summary of a topic;
- a book report;
- your personal opinion;
- an interpretation of one person’s opinion (even if it is a researcher’s opinion);
- an expository essay;
- an overview of a particular topic.
Now, you might think that a research paper seems even more complex than before you start reading about it because there are so many things you need to follow to satisfy the requirements. However, we can ensure you that to write a good research paper is not a tough task if you have a clear vision of its structure and know how to organize your writing process. We will discuss each step in details and provide some tips that may be useful for you. Our guide will help to avoid the common mistakes and you will spend much less time on writing a research paper.
Best Ways to Brainstorm the Topic
After you have finished reading your instructions, you are ready to move to the first stage. The start point is brainstorming. There are many ways to do it, and the following tips may help you to achieve the best result:
Write Down Your Ideas
Make a list of all ideas you have, even if some of them seem useless. Sometimes, a bad idea may lead you to a good one. Reread your list several times and pick up only ideas that match your topic the best.
Sometimes, when you start writing about your idea, you find out that after a couple of sentences you have nothing more to say about it. That’s why you need to test your ideas before using them in your research paper. Freewriting is a perfect solution for this purpose. Select an idea and write everything you think about it during five or ten minutes. If after writing you have even more to say, then this idea is a good one and you can use it in your paper. However, if you experience lack of thoughts, maybe you better avoid it in your work.
Draw a Map of Your Ideas
Another method that can help you to define whether you can write a lot is to draw a map of your ideas. Select the main message and write it in a big bubble. Then create small bubbles where you will write your thoughts that have any connection with your main idea. The thoughts written in small bubbles may also lead you to some new ideas. If it happens, create smaller bubbles and write down them too. This method is an excellent way to break down your big ideas into smaller and find out whether you can use them in your paper.
Use Cubing Principle
In order to avoid the repetition and make the final selection of good ideas, you can use the cubing principle. According to this approach, you analyze the idea applying the following principles:
Does your idea help you to write a thesis for a research paper? Does it have any connection with other ideas? Do some patterns repeat? Does your idea help you to analyze a topic from different perspectives? Can your idea help you to provide the answer to your main question? Apply this technique to understand whether your ideas lead you towards some accurate statements or they provide some general information about your topic.
How to Begin a Research. The List of Credible and Non-credible Sources
After brainstorming, you are ready to search sources that will provide you with all required information about your topic. However, before you start, you should take into account that it is a research paper, not an essay. Hence, not all sources are credible, and thus, you cannot use them all.
If your paper includes the non-credible sources, you will get the low grade. In some cases, the professor may even deny accepting your paper since your list of references does not satisfy the paper instructions. It does not matter how good your work is. If it is not supported by credible sources, it cannot be considered as a research paper.
In order to avoid this situation, you should clarify what sources are allowed and what are forbidden to use. This list may vary depending on the paper, but in general, there are some basic rules that refer to every case.
You can use your college or university library to find the periodical journals. As a rule, your educational institution also provides access to its online library where you can find lots of credible sources.
This source doesn’t require any registration or payment. The search engine will provide mostly credible articles, journals, and websites.
This search engine is similar to Google Scholar and provides primarily scholarly sources.
There is no any restriction on books as long as they correspond to your topic.
Website Registered in .gov, .edu, and .ac
You can use information from the website with one of these types of domain extension.
Forget about this website. There is no a single professor who accepts this source as a credible one. Why? Wikipedia is a website that can be edited by anybody. Hence, nobody is responsible for the information that is written there. Such type of source a priori cannot be accepted as reliable because any teenager can write whatever they want.
Blogs are not a credible source since they are written by a person, not a professional researcher or a scholar. Hence, an author introduces a personal opinion, but not a thoroughly conducted research.
Posts From Social Networks
Once again, here you can find opinions but not credible data for a scientific research paper.
Websites Registered in .com, .net, .org, and Other Domain Extensions
These websites may contain useful information, but they do not provide any pieces of evidence that can prove the scientific value of the materials that you can find there. That is why it is better to avoid these websites unless your professor allows you to use them.
Items that Every Plan Must Have
One of the core problems that students deal with when they start writing a research paper is too many ideas. They start writing about one issue then jump to another forgetting about some crucial points in the body and as a result, they have to make a conclusion, but the main question of the paper is still not answered. In order to avoid this situation and not to miss any important details, you need to make a plan with the following structure.
One of the most common questions among students is how to write an introduction to a research paper. Well, it is a quite simple part. Depending on a work’s size, the length of this section may vary. For example, you have a 10-page paper. In this case, your introduction may be about 200-250 words. Don't make it too long or too short. In this section, you need to tell what you are going to discuss in your research paper and what answers you are going to provide.
Don’t forget to include a thesis statement in your introduction because it reflects the main idea of your research. The absence of this crucial aspect makes the entire research paper pointless. The length of the paper’s thesis is one or two sentences. Don't make it too long, your goal is to shape the main idea of your research.
This is the central part of your research where you explain the core ideas of your paper and provide pieces of evidence that help you to reveal your thesis statement. When you write a research paper, you need to divide your assignment into sections. The number of sections depends on the length of your paper. However, it is not recommended to make too many of them. For example, if you have a 10-page paper, there is no need to create 10 sections. Outline 3 or 4, where each of them contains some smaller subsections. Take a look at your brainstorming notes where you wrote main ideas in big bubbles and minor thoughts in small bubbles. The idea of a big bubble can represent your main section, while small bubbles will fit for subsections.
A conclusion is a results section of a research paper. Don’t make it too long or too short. The perfect conclusion is about the same length as your introduction. Just make the bottom line and write briefly about all facts that you have found out during your research.
Depending on your instructions, you may also be required to add some more sections to your research paper such as abstract, outline, or summary. An abstract
is a short piece of information, where you shortly introduce the findings of your research. When you write an abstract, try to make it as much informative as possible. Your goal is to show a reader whether he or she can find necessary information in your research paper.
for a research paper is a detailed plan, where you introduce the issues you are going to discuss. For example, a paper outline can be the following:Topic - The Path of Chinese Immigrants in the United States
A. The First Wave of Immigration
1) Causes of the First Wave of Immigration
2) A Reaction of American Residents to Chinese Immigrants
3) Laws Against Chinese Immigrants
B. The Second Wave of Immigration
1) Causes of the Second Wave of Immigration
2) New Laws to Restrict the Rights of Chinese Immigrants
3) Racial Discrimination of Chinese Immigrants
C. The Influence of the Chinese Culture on the American Way of Life
1) Chinese American Families
2) Traditions and Customs
3) The New Perception of Chinese Residents
An executive summary
may seem very similar to the abstract since it also introduces the main ideas of the paper. However, unlike the abstract, the executive summary is a piece of information that presents the full picture of the paper but very briefly. It is not an overview of a research paper. An executive summary is about 10 % of the entire work that introduces the thesis statement, all main points, and a conclusion.
Two Important Stages of a Writing ProcessThe writing process consists of two stages
. During the first stage, you need to write a draft of your research paper. The biggest misconception about the draft is that it is a well-written story, where the author has successfully answered all questions addressed at the beginning of the work. So, the writer needs to correct some spelling and grammar mistakes or maybe rephrase a few sentences. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work this way. Even the professional writers need to rewrite about 50-60% of the paper after the first draft. The purpose of the draft
is to help the author to reflect the first ideas, thoughts, and suggestions about the work. There is a considerable difference between thoughts in your head and those you have already written down on a paper. The draft gives an opportunity to see how the ideas exist in a global context of a paper and how they complement each other. When you do it, you will see that some of your ideas that sound brilliantly in your mind may seem ridiculous on a paper. In addition, during the writing process, the new ideas may pop up in your mind, and you will need to revise the paper’s structure to find the place for these new thoughts.
Sometimes, one draft is not enough, and you will need to write the second or even the third one. The principle of writing the second and further drafts are the same, but as a rule, they require less time. It is up to you to write more drafts or not, but the first draft is a must that every research paper should start with.
After you complete the draft, you are ready to write the final version of your paper
. At the second stage, you have everything to complete the task successfully. Use these steps in order not to forget anything:
Do not copy-paste any information
- follow your plan;
- use your draft as a guideline;
- support facts and statistical data with citations;
- use credible sources.
that you are going to use. If you need to include a good evidence in your paper, use an in-text citation. There is a huge difference between copy-pasted information and the one with a proper quote. However, be careful when you make direct citations. Do not overfill your work with them. Use them when it is necessary, and you cannot write a sentence in your own words. When you place a citation, be sure you use the proper format style. For example, if you have APA, a correct in-text citation should contain the author’s surname, a comma, and a year of publication - (Black, 2016). For MLA, you need to write the author’s surname, no comma, and a page number, where one can find the phrase you use - (Brown 235).
One more tip about a research paper. Nothing should disturb you from the writing process
. Extra noise will hinder the concentration on your thoughts. As a result, you will spend more time, may forget about some important issues, or repeat yourself. Some students use melodic music that helps them to wrap up in the writing process. All is fair in war and writing, and there is no a perfect solution for everybody. So, just try to create a right atmosphere that will not distract you from your research paper.
How to Revise a Paper and Avoid Plagiarism
When you have finished writing the research paper, you need to revise it, and it is better to repeat this procedure a few times to avoid any mistakes. If you still have a couple of days before your deadline, we recommend revising your research paper the next day.
Let's say you have finished your paper in the evening. You read it twice, and everything looks fine to you. The paper seems to be a real masterpiece. However, when you wake up the next day and decide to reread it, you may find out that it doesn’t look as perfect as it was yesterday. You have a strong desire to rewrite some paragraphs as they do not reflect your thoughts in a full measure.
You see, when you work all day, you become tired and less attentive to details. When you check your home task the next day, you read it with a fresh eye and notice things that you missed before. So, if you have an opportunity to reread your paper the next day, don’t lose it.
Don’t forget about your paper style. The wrong paper format may cost up to 10% of your overall mark. Be sure your professor will notice that you have not used the proper style and even if you have the perfectly written research paper you will never get the highest grade. As a rule, you are required to write a research paper in APA, MLA, Harvard, or Chicago style. There might be some others, but you are more likely to get one of these.
Depending on your paper style, you will be required to format your in-text-citations and a bibliography for a research paper using specific rules. If you have little experience in college paper writing, you can easily get into a muddle. To avoid mistakes, you can use this source
, where you can find detailed instructions about the most popular academic styles.
Grammar and Punctuation
There are lots of foreign students who come to get an education in the UK or USA. If you are one of them, you might wonder, how to write a good research paper with no grammar mistakes. For this purpose, you can try one of the grammar checkers like Grammarly
. Both services are free, but advanced features provided for money.
Despite the fact that these programs cannot provide 100% guarantee of language quality, they can significantly reduce the number of mistakes. Even if you are a native speaker, we still recommend making this checking. You may make a mistake unintentionally or miss a coma where it is required. It would be a pity to lose a few points for such a ludicrous thing or misprint.
One of the reasons why you may get a bad grade is a high percentage of plagiarism. Many professors warn their students that if the work contains the portion of plagiarism higher than it is allowed in the instructions, then such a paper will be returned to a student. In some cases, the professor may put the lowest grade and do not allow revising the paper to eliminate plagiarism. So, the ignorance of this requirement will bring to naught your research paper. So, what to do?
Before you send your research paper to your professor, check your work with a plagiarism detection software or website. You can try Quetext
, or Duplichecker
. Even if you are 100% sure that your paper cannot contain any plagiarism, find a few minutes to do it. Sometimes, even the common word combinations that you use together with a topic of your paper may show plagiarism, though you have not copy-pasted any information. It doesn't take much time to check your assignment, but after that, you can be sure that your paper will not be penalized for plagiarism.
Reasons to Give Credence to this Research Paper Writing Guide
You may wonder, why the information we have just shared with you is reliable, and you can take it seriously. We are the company that provides academic writing service. Our goal is to help students who cannot cope with their homework themselves. One of the most common orders that we usually receive from our clients is a research paper. Currently, we have successfully provided about 1000 research papers
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Write a Research Paper Yourself or Use Our Help
As you can see writing a research paper is not as difficult as it might seem in the beginning. This process contains many steps and requires good managing skills. However, it is not the unbearable task that only the best students can cope with. A research paper requires much concentration and analyzing. So, be ready to spend a couple of days gathering information before you start writing on your topic. Don’t give up, if you cannot shape your ideas. Sometimes, students rewrite the same paragraphs for five or more times until they achieve the desired result. Have patience, and you will overcome any challenges that you may face while completing a research paper.
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