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How To Write a Research Paper: Student's Guide

17 Apr 2019Research Paper Writing Guides

Knowing where to start with a college research paper can be quite intimidating. Unlike standard essays, this task takes a lot of effort. The time and resources needed to develop a coherent text takes much organization and excellent writing skills. Many students may be gifted in their field of study but not all are up to scratch to deliver a quality assignment and get a good grade. Professors are increasingly becoming more demanding and load on requirements. This adds salt the wound of delivering quality work. With your future on the line, so much is at stake – planning and staying focused is vital. But without the proper know-how, it is still easy to fail in getting it done right. But before we dig into how to write a research paper we need to cover a few bases.

Research papers are much more than a summary of a scientific experiment. First and foremost, it is a presentation of knowledge and can take many forms. You may have to put together anything from a case study, term paper, or coursework to something more involved. The most complicated being a Master’s thesis or a Ph.D. dissertation. The research paper format will add their own specific challenges as well as your level of academic study.

We’ve put together some research paper guidelines to get you started on an acclaimed text that will attract the attention of your peers and be worthy of getting you published in a scientific journal.

What is a Research Paper?

When studying the sciences, often a lab or a study will crawl into the mix. Professors will test your ability to carry out experiments. You’ll find yourself adding or subtracting variables and observing differences in a controlled manner. After all, studying the sciences is often a study of change and is half the fun. But then comes the more laborious aspects of your course – this is where writing a research paper comes into play.

As you work your way through your experiments, documenting your findings is essential. The results of your work should validate existing theories or expand on them. Nobody wants to put in all the work in the lab only to get a bad grade with shoddy documentation. Knowing proper research writing, you’ll professionally provide new information for future scientists to reference when doing their own experiments. Future students may even cite your work. For this, it’s critical to have good structure so your work will be respected in the academic community.

What Is The Thesis For A Research Paper

Almost all experiments revolve around answering a burning question in your field of study. This question and the basis of your text will be consolidated in a thesis statement that will prevail throughout your work. When you draft your research paper outline, all aspects of your text should focus around the thesis statement. The best way to draft an effective statement is to pose a question that is relevant and of interest to current scientific activity. Don’t bore off your audience with tired topics, it’s better to let them lay at rest. Look through some contemporary scientific journals and see what other scientists are working on. Which topics generate interest? Focus your work in these areas and develop statement that will pull the readers in. The key is to trigger the audience to think “Oh what is this about”.

Types Of Research Papers

The first step in knowing how to make a research paper is to understand the format. These assignments come in all shapes and sizes and each has a goal. Here we’ve listed a few of the most popular types. The next time you get down to writing your assignment, it’s helpful to pull up a research paper example. You can see how successful academics have put together their work. Here are a few you’re sure to encounter in your studies.

Type

Definition

Argumentative

These texts focus on presenting two ideas with contrasting points of view. The idea is to present a position in an argument as well as the counterargument presenting the key strengths and weaknesses.

Analytical

The analytical essay will present an interpretation of data that you have studied. This could be anything from a book or a film to another lab experiment. The author should present observations and results based on the observed material.

Definition

These papers seem simple but are quite difficult. Here the author will define a word with full descriptions and meaning. The trick is to find a word that can have many interpretations and to narrow down a specific meaning.

Compare and Contrast

With a compare and contrast paper it is important to only demonstrate differences and similarities. You must also present how these comparisons have meaning and any possible arguments associated with them.

Cause and Effect

The root of these assignments is to explain why things happen. When instance ‘A’ occurs the results are X,Y,Z and the reasons behind it.

Reports

Reports focus on writing to inform stakeholders in a concise and useful format. The focus of these texts is to understand who the audience is and which information is pertinent.

Interpretive

An interpretive research paper demonstrates your ability to understand information that may not have a concrete meaning. You will find many interpretive assignments if you study the arts.

How To Choose a Good Topic For Research Paper

One of the main struggles students have is making their work interesting. Many students look at an assignment’s requirements and treat it like a laundry list checking off the bullet points as they go. While this method is sure to get the assignment done quickly (and with the least effort), these short-cuts are sure to reflect on your grades. So the second stage in how to do a research paper is to make your work interesting. A good topic is your first line of defense in writing interesting work. An engaging topic that is relevant in contemporary assignments will jump off the page and connect with your reader. So what are interesting topics for making an outline for a research paper? Read these topics to get a killer argument that will pull your readers in and engage them.

How to Find Sources for a Research Paper

When it comes to the sciences, make your arguments bulletproof with credible facts, statistics and testimony. As a rule never use Wikipedia as a source as this is not considered empirical in the academic community. However! If you’re completely stuck, at the bottom of most wiki pages you’ll find a list of credible sources on a topic. This is a good trick to get started when your blank screen won’t go away. So moving on to some credible sources to find data, here are some useful tidbits to help you gather the facts.

  1. Science.gov – This is a search engine of several sites and databases related to federal scientific information. You’re sure to find material on several subjects to get you the data you need.
  2. Microsoft Academic Search  – Their motto says it all. “Research more, search less”. You may not be fond of their software products, but their academic search engine gets the job done. You can browse leading institutions and acclaimed authors – consolidated in one place.
  3. The Library – Sure it’s the 21st century and you may feel libraries are for toddlers and old people. The fact remains, books hold more authority than online blogs and journals. Hard copy material is evaluated to much higher standards and goes through a much more stringent editing and fact checking process. Just be sure the material is not too old.  
  4. RefSeek – This WYSIWYG search engine is a database of leading academic journals. Its main advantage is you are sure all results are from credible sources.
  5. Google – No need to link to this behemoth of everything that is the Internet. With Google, the world is at your fingertips. This is a great tool when you just aren’t finding the precise information you need. Be warned though, you will need to spend extra time vetting your material to ensure it holds up to academic standards.

How to Start Writing A Research Paper

The best research paper introduction generates interest and presents itself as being important. So be sure you follow our advice on finding a great topic. Professional writers grab the reader by starting with a good hook. Pose some questions or a quote and state how your paper will provide perspectives and solutions to the stated problem. You can reinforce interest by giving a brief overview of what is to follow so the audience will know what is to come.

Write a Structure of Research Paper

First, keep in mind your institute’s citation style guide. Some citations such as APA will require a running head, while MLA does not. Colleges can be quite finicky when it comes to formatting. When in doubt ask your teacher for any specifics if you’re not sure. But as a run down here are the main parts of a research paper. If you’d like to see an example of how it all comes together check out this research paper outline example. Again, format your paper according to the assigned style.

  1. Title Page – Indicate who you are, where you study, the published date and of course the title.
  2. Abstract – While not always mandatory it’s a good idea to include this section – especially if you expect your work to be published. The abstract is consolidated version your paper (typically under 250 words) and what your text aims to achieve.
  3. Introduction – See above. Here you lead into your work and setup your research paper thesis to state the basis of your work.
  4. Body – Here is the meat and potatoes of all you’ve accomplished. You state your arguments and present data that supports your thesis statement. Be sure to use proper transitions for your paragraphs to make your work flow. Do not forget to write an effective research paper conclusion to give your audience something to consider in the aftermath. Also, be sure not to forget any useful charts, diagrams, or lists when you feel your work is becoming monotonous.
  5. Bibliography or references list – This portion of your paper validates your work. You may be required to use a certain number of references. Be sure to cite them properly and they are relevant to your study.
  6. Additional materials – Supplemental information that expands upon your work can be included here. Think of some books you’ve read and the material presented in the appendix. This is a great way to generate more interest in your work or to supply quick references for data.

Writing A Rough Draft For Your Paper

Rome wasn’t built in a day and nor should your academic work. The review and re-evaluation process of writing cannot be understated. The goal of a rough draft is to get your ideas down on paper. Refer to your outline and just start banging out composition. When you feel you’ve got all the points on paper. Review, edit, proofread... and edit again. When you review your work look for gaps in any statements you’ve made and ensure your work flows in a logical way. Consider your word choices and if your text is clear. We highly recommend have a second set of eyes review your paper to ensure it makes sense and is easy to understand.

Tips On How To Make Your Research Paper Perfect

For the perfectionists out there, the right research paper structure is the road-map to success. Preparation is half the battle in writing award winning work. When you’ve completed your masterpiece be sure to check it for plagiarism. Many students accidentally copy content. The Internet is a big place and teachers use modern software to scour all corners of the net to look for copied content. Also, did we mention to edit your paper? Rushed work equals sloppy words and will quickly crush your GPA. As you advance the academic ladder, courses become more demanding and you are expected to take your studies seriously.

Best Research Papers Website To Help Students Online

We get it – college can be downright impossible at times. If you’re looking for a boost to up the caliber of your work check out these useful tools from the professional writers at PapersOwl.

  • Thesis Statement Generator – Need a thesis statement? We’ve got ‘em! In five simple steps you can get a powerful thesis for your text.
  • Online Plagiarism Checker – Plagiarism will put your GPA six feet under. If you use our free plagiarism checker you can be sure to find out if your work makes the grade.
  • Citation Generator – One of the more annoying deductions is not properly citing a reference. You stated the information, mentioned the author and where you had found it… but it’s not in the right format. With our citation generator, simply enter your universities formatting style and you’ll get perfect citations each time.
  • Title Page Maker – The title page is often overlooked as it’s not directly related to your research. It is also the first page anyone reads. Therefore, if you want your work to be taken seriously, be sure to have it formatted correctly with our title page maker.
  • Conclusion generator – Wrap up your papers with impact. Give your audience something to think about and restate the main parts of your paper. Deliver success with a conclusion using our conclusion generator.
  • Research Paper Writing Service – And finally if you’re stressing out about a monster task, can’t just find the time, or are in a lull. Our professional writers will deliver. We have the arsenal to deliver powerful papers that get good grades, are plagiarism free and can even be done the same day.

Demonstrating your ability to build high level work that contributes to the academic community can be quite demanding. But with the right tools and the tips in our guide you are sure to succeed and get good grades. For more tips on how to write effectively, book mark our site and be sure to tell your friends. So get cranking on your papers and check back when you’re stuck. Our writers are always available to get you out from under if you’re in a bind. 

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