Guest article written by: Sandra Miller
Before we start our discussion off about How to Write an Effective Research Paper, let us go over the basics.
What is a research paper?
A research paper is basically a type of academic writing that should have theoretical and significant data that has gone through proper in-depth research. They may also contain arguments based on a thesis with vital evidence from various helpful and reliable sources.
Although, writing a research paper may seem painstaking and difficult at first, it really isn’t all too complicated once you know what proper steps you can follow to make it easier. It may be challenging because of the intensive research that it needs, but it doesn’t have to be frustrating for anyone. Before starting the steps, be sure you have enough note paper, various colors of highlighters (for your research markings) and index cards. Also take note, that reading the checklist regarding research ethics could also be of big help for you and writing your research paper.
Start off by following these essential steps:
- Topic selection
- Find reliable sources
- Use index cards for helpful notes you might need
- Organize your notes according to the topic it is under
- Brainstorm an out line
- Write out a first draft so you have guidance
- Read through first draft and re-write
- Edit when necessary
The best place, I believe, to do reliable research for your sources is the library. There are various potential references available there and countless books, published articles, journals etc. that you can go over to find exactly what you need. Try finding yourself a cozy place, away from distractions, that you can do research. It is best to be familiar with the services available and where your potential sources are located. Try making use of the card catalog and computers to make your search much easier.
Select Your Research Topic.
If a professor gives this assignment to you and you have the freedom to choose what to write about, it is probably wise to choose a topic that you’ve always been curious about so that you have interest in it. Choosing a topic that doesn’t interest you much, might not give that motivation to do effective research. Also remember to be specific when selecting a topic. A common mistake is choosing a topic that is too general.
Search for Potential References
Like mentioned above, make use of the services in the library for finding out proper references. These could be the card catalog and computers available at the library of your choice. Search for books that are relevant to your topic.
Try looking through a periodical guide at the library. These are publications that are released on a regular basis and these include newspapers, magazines and journals.
Scan through your resources and take note of the vital information on your notecards from the sources that have relevant information.
Taking Down the Proper Notes.
Be organized when taking down notes and avoid taking information down that won’t be of much help. Color code your notes by topic and highlight the essential details so you can find that specific topic easily.
You may also try photocopying an article or a page from a book if there is too much to jot down. Highlighters pay a big role in this because you can highlight only what you need to remember when writing your research paper.
*Remember: Every time you take note of something, write down the bibliographical information which includes the author, book title, page numbers used, volume number, publisher name and dates. This is vital to use in your research paper.
Write an Outline.
After your in-depth research, you are now ready to write an outline. With the notes that you took down, you can then start brainstorming where the topics fit and they don’t necessary have to be structured in a sentence because this is only the “brainstorming” part? Would it be include in the beginning, middle or end of the paper? You may rearrange where a certain topic fits. This is a crucial part and may take longer than the other steps because your paper is taking shape and this is the baseline of your final research paper.
Work on your First Draft.
When you’re finished with your outline, you may start on your first draft. Since your outline is done, you may now structure the outline into sentence and paragraph form. Pretty much putting more life and detail into the paper so that people can actually understand what you want to point out. You may do more necessary research along the way if you feel like you didn’t research enough. Take note, this is only the first draft, so you can still change things around.
Edit and Write your Final Paper.
Once your first draft feels right, with all the vital information and sources put in, you can proceed to editing and writing out your final paper. Check for grammatical and typographical errors and spelling. Also, make sure that every source used is in your bibliography page.
Do your final adjustments and read over it as many times as you’d like to make sure that it meets your professor’s requirements.
Sandra Miller is a New York University graduate. Now she is a freelance writer and lives happily with her husband and lovely daughter at Brooklyn. She uses professional editing services to make her writing perfect. Loves creating tips for writers and students. Passionate about Indian culture and yoga.