Research papers are among the most time-consuming and complicated writing assignments you can get as a college student. It will take you weeks, if not months, to compile a list of sources, analyze them, create an outline, write and edit your research. The task seems so complicated that most students succumb to the urge to put it away for later. However, a research paper written during the sleepless weekend before it is due will never get you an A. Instead, try using our step-by-step strategy, and you will be able to write a research paper with no fuss and unnecessary stress.
Choose A Topic
It might not be an option for you, but most instructors will allow you the freedom to select the research topic on your own. You don’t have to pick the boring issues everyone has already covered. Instead, choose something you are genuinely interested in, be it popular culture or online gaming. Of course, the topic should fall within the assignment parameters and be related to the class you are taking. Always consider the required length of the research paper and select a problem that you will be able to cover within its volume. Do not fall into the trap of choosing the subject too broad or too narrow for your assignment, or you risk losing points off your grade.
Develop A Thesis
Your first instinct might be to start research as soon as you select the topic. However, this decision will only waste your time. Don’t go looking for books and journals before you have formulated a thesis statement, or at least its first draft. This simple trick will save you from wasting away in the library under a mountain of useless books. A thesis will be your guiding light to help you identify usable sources quickly and painlessly. When you know what you need to look for, the search will go much faster.
We’ve covered the intricacies of writing a thesis statement before, so make use of our advice before storming the library.
Select The Sources
Not every website and article can be used in your research paper. You need to be extra picky when selecting the sources, as they will form the basis of your research, and your credibility will suffer if you choose wrong. Ideal sources should meet several requirements:
- The information is current, not outdated by several decades.
- There is enough information in the source to be useful.
- The source’s credibility is supported by the peer-review process or experts.
- The data is not promotional.
- The source covers different sides of the problem.
- Other sources support the findings and data.
Reading the sources should involve copious note-taking either on paper or digital. Always identify the source of information and write down interesting facts, numbers, statistics. Copy the quotes you would like to use to strengthen your argument, otherwise, summarize and paraphrase. If you take notes on your laptop, organize them on different pages or in separate files. If you prefer pen and paper, use loose paper and arrange the records either by source or by argument. These notes will lay the groundwork for your research paper, so do not take shortcuts and pay close attention to detail.
Create An Outline
Unlike a typical five-paragraph essay, a research paper is a large piece of writing that requires a rigid structure to be logical and organized. Therefore, you should never start writing it without an outline. First, divide your paper into introduction, body, and conclusion. Then, separate different parts of the body into chapters or sections according to the data you have gathered and the arguments you wish to make. You don’t have to outline each paragraph in your informal outline. But you should be able to understand which points come where with a single glance at your notes.
Write A Draft
After the preparatory steps, writing a research paper seems like a piece of cake. You have your notes, an outline, and a thesis statement. These should be enough to beat your writer’s block and the fear of a blank page. With a structure in mind, you don’t even have to start at the beginning. You can write whichever section you like most first. Don’t be too hard on yourself at this stage. You should write down everything you think is pertinent to the subject of the research paper. You will edit this draft later and make it into a meticulous piece of writing of which you can be proud. Right now you need to get everything you have learned on paper before the information evaporates from your mind.
Edit The Paper
Ideally, you should find someone willing to do you a favor and edit the research paper for you. If it’s not an option, finish the work several days before the deadline and put it away for at least 24 hours. This short break will let you rest, and your brain will be able to reboot. Read the paper after a break and imagine you are reading someone else’s work. Turn into a ruthless critic and strike out any inconsistencies, illogical transitions, and rambling passages.
When the writing is up to your high standards, switch into a proofreading mode. Try reading the paper aloud or upside down to catch small mistakes and typos. Every error you correct will increase your chances of getting an A. Make sure to follow formatting requirements and add a title page, contents, and a list of references. Some professors take missing commas very seriously and might give your excellent research paper a C just because you forgot to proofread it.
Writing a research paper might seem like a lot of work, and it is, even when you divide the process into small manageable chunks. If you have no time to complete the research on your own, you can always turn to our professional writers. They will help you deal with this complicated assignment quickly and efficiently.