How to Properly Write a Research Paper

Research writing is one of those skills that most college students will have to master at some point or another if they wish to excel in the academic and professional worlds. But research writing doesn’t come easily to all, and there are certainly a number of problems – some minor and some major – that can adversely affect how well one does on these types of assignments. Here are some ways of handling common but tough issues when writing a research paper:

Pre-Writing Process

Problem: No clear thesis and no idea of what to do your research on.

Solution: Brainstorm some ideas on topics you have been given or have studied in class. Think of some questions you would like answered within your favorite topic and formulate a draft thesis to guide your work.

Planning and Logistics

Problem: You haven’t considered where to start your research nor have developed a research writing plan.

Solution: Now that you have a draft thesis you can decide where the best place to find resources is. Ask your instructor, speak with a reference librarian, and check multiple databases. Don’t forget to look through several bibliographies for related content on your topic.

Research and Data Collection

Problem: You have not found enough resources nor do you know how to interpret and analyze your findings.

Solution: After your initial phase of research you may find that your topic is too broad or too narrow to find ample resources on. Adjust your topic and thesis to accommodate the information that is available to you. Gather your information in note cards or notebooks so that you can easily access and make connections with new information.

Drafting and Writing

Problem: You’ve collected your information but don’t know how to organize it into a well-written research paper.

Solution: Develop an outline or mind-map to organize your research. Start drafting a paper that includes all of your thoughts and arguments on your topic and each of the subtopics. Don’t worry about any grammar or spelling mistakes at this point. The goal of this exercise is to get all of your ideas down on paper.

Revising, Editing and Proofreading

Problem: You’ve written your draft but still have a number of logic, organization, grammar, spelling and punctuation mistakes.

Solution: Now that you have a draft you are able to revise it should the organization or logic seem off. You can also start making corrections to your grammar, spelling and punctuation. After you have a completed revised draft you will benefit from proofing and editing one more time before handing in your work.

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