Research papers. We all hate them. We are assigned to write so many pages, or so many words, on a topic, and, bonus round, maybe you’re forbidden to use Wikipedia as a source. Bleh.
I feel your pain. Yet, I’ve managed to knock out a number of these in the past few years, and get A’s on all of them.
So, I thought I’d share with you a few tips and tricks.
Research Paper Tips and Tricks
First, DO NOT START THIS THE NIGHT BEFORE IT IS DUE. I know, we’ve all done it, then we wonder why we didn’t do well on it. Maybe a source we really needed was unavailable, our coffee-addled brain made grammatical errors, or maybe it just didn’t flow well from one paragraph to the next. All these problems are avoidable by giving yourself plenty of time to review, and to have others review it for you.
Second, Budget about 1 – 1.5 hours PER PAGE, or 500 words, for the time it will take you to write an A paper.
Now that we have the first two rules out of the way, let’s look at some methods for writing good papers.
Pick a Research Paper Topic
- Develop a working thesis for the paper.
- Find several sources, books, articles, newspaper articles, journal entries, AND web sites that discuss your topic. Wikipedia, if permissible, should not be your only source. It is not considered a professional source, and is not, “peer-reviewed,” something of paramount importance for college-level research papers.
- Skim these sources to see if they provide enough content to support your thesis.
- If yes, copy and paste relevant portions of the content into your working document. BE SURE to copy and paste the web site’s information, date, etc. along with it. If a book, type this information in directly with your content. For example, my working documents for a research paper often look like:
First paragraph – Thesis
Content – The brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.
***************Above information came from www.xyzpdq.com on Feb. 23, 2012*****************
Content – Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy
******************Above information came from www.abc123.com on Feb. 22, 2013************
See how I’ve copied the content that I want to use into its own block, separated the blocks with the citation and reference information? This will help you when it comes time to write and document your paper.
How to Track your Research Paper Sources
6. Now, read, really read, each of the content pieces you want to include in your paper. How does each piece relate to the others? What is a good starting point? What is a good way to smoothly transition, called a segue, from one idea to the next?
7. Each idea should have its own paragraph. The last sentence of the preceding paragraph and/or the first sentence of the new paragraph should “point to” or segue from the last paragraph.
8. Several paragraphs, depending on paper’s required length, should provide evidence in support of your thesis.
9. Some papers may also include paragraphs which refute your thesis. Those, then, should be thoroughly evaluated and discussed, with quotes and other data to back up your thesis.
10. This should continue until the paper and the data are complete.
11. The conclusion should restate your thesis, and summarize the points made in support of it and demonstrate that your thesis has now been proven. It should NOT EVER introduce new ideas or information. It should pull together all major points of your thesis.
12. Spell check, grammar check, and, unless you consistently get high A’s on your papers, have at least two or three other people, who have good grammar, punctuation, and English skills, read your paper and critique it.
13. If required, submit your paper to www.turnitin.com to confirm its originality. Plagiarism can get you flunked or kicked out of a class.
14. Revise paper as necessary. I like to begin short papers (3-4 pages in length) at least three days ahead of time and write most of it the first day. I then walk away from it, go to the gym, do household chores, whatever, and let it roll around in my head for a while. I then come back to it, and reread. I almost always find revisions to make. I move paragraphs around, incorporate a new idea, fix formatting or punctuation, massage a sentence to give it more impact, something. This process is usually repeated at least three times before the paper is submitted.
Research Paper Writing Help
Good luck to you!! If you would like me to critique your paper, provide commentary, feedback, editing, or revisions, I am available for consultation. Call me at 858-848-0860