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How to Write a Successful Research Paper

For many college students, even the mention of the term ‘research paper’ is enough to conjure up sentiments of tediousness and monotony, with many having ingrained ideas of studying and researching for weeks on end. However, this type of university paper is only as boring as you make it out to be.

Writing a successful research paper doesn’t all happen at once. It can be handled in a much less stressful way if you approach it in sections. Don’t get overwhelmed by the pressure: you’ll always be given enough time to complete the paper and we’re going to show you how to do it right the first time round. Simply follow the steps laid out here to create your own awesome paper.

  1. Selecting your research paper topic
  2. You can either go for an analytical type of paper that delves into heaps of quantitative data to support a personal viewpoint, or a paper that addresses a particular argumentative standpoint which requires a more qualitative, debatable approach. Whichever approach you choose, it needs to be backed up with your own individual ideas and take on the subject, appropriate and relevant to your title.

  3. Accumulate and organize the information
  4. This can be a great exercise that really kick-starts your brain into generating ideas of how the paper is going to take shape. You need to be gathering and storing information from a myriad of sources such as:

    • Internet searches, Google Scholar, academic sites, government sites;
    • Library books, peer reviews, other research papers with a similar theme, encyclopedias;
    • Reports, magazines, topic-relevant quarterlies, journals, vertical files, newspapers.

    After the researching stage, make sure that you read through all your pieces of information and only extract the pieces that will serve to support your thesis. Don’t get distracted by data which is not relevant. You need to take your research and begin to place it all in a logical order according to how they relate to each other. Use highlighter pens and coloured post-it notes to categorize notes into their interrelated sections to make the writing task easier.

  5. State your main thesis
  6. The thesis is the bedrock of your paper and you should keep referring back to it, providing supporting information to uphold your argument. Doing the data collection above thoroughly should help to develop the wording you require for your thesis, giving your paper an interesting direction and purpose.

  7. Create a basic outline
  8. Begin to decide how your information is going to fit together. You will need an introduction which highlights the thesis, gets the reader interested and lets them know what to expect. After this, you will have the main body of the paper where your arguments are discussed in a coherent and impacting way. Finally, a short conclusion is needed which refers back to the initial thesis.

  9. Create the first draft
  10. Take your organized information and, section by section, start typing the skeleton frame of the draft. Sentence structure and grammar needn’t be an issue here, you’re simply getting things down in a logical way so that your argument can begin to take shape. Try and lay it out in paragraph form, so you can chop and change the format later on, and move parts around to maintain a good flow of argumentative information. Remember to write in your own words and only quote directly when absolutely necessary.

  11. Revise and redraft the paper
  12. This should ideally be done a couple of days after the previous stage so that you approach the original draft with fresh eyes, yet still have a good idea of how you would like the layout. Start to form clearer sentences that really express your own ideas and thoughts, linking information together so that it builds and expands on the previous arguments.

  13. Final touches
  14. Now you can write the research paper in its entirety using the final draft as your model. Make sure to recheck everything from grammar and spelling to plagiarism checking, formatting styles and citations. Read the sentences out loud and see if they are too wordy, making alterations where necessary.

Not only do research papers have a huge amount of educational value for yourself and your peers, but they also train students how to write in an intellectual fashion which considers all possible avenues around a specific subject matter. Writing papers such as these at college level prepares you for the rest of your working life, when you’ll no doubt be writing topical papers on issues that really interest and engage you personally. Now’s your chance to perfect the art to a tee!