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How to Write a Research Paper
Edited by Jackie Sinclair, Jack Herrick, Jamie Littlefield, Imperatrix and 50 others Pin It
A research paper is an important part of academics. Most students will be assigned at least one research paper in high school and many research papers in college, regardless of their major. For help, follow these steps. EditSteps
Sample Research Papers
Sample Scientific Research Paper
Sample Literary Research Paper
Sample Environmental Research Paper
Writing Your Own Research Paper
Choose a topic that interests you. The more enthusiastic you are, the easier the research paper will be to write.
Choose one that overlaps with things you’ve already studied so that the work goes quickly. 2.
Identify the goal of the paper. Generally, speaking, there are two types of research paper:
An argumentative research paper takes a position on a contentious issue and argues for one point of view. The issue should be debatable with a logical counter argument. o
An analytical research paper offers a fresh look at an important issue. The subject may not be controversial, but you must attempt to persuade your audience that your ideas have merit. 3.
Find good sources. Ideally, you should use a variety of sources, including websites, books, academic or professional journals, and interviews with experts. Realistically, however, a lot of your sources will be found online. While using a tertiary source like Wikipedia is not generally accepted in academic papers, Wikipedia articles often have citations linked to source material. Look for credible websites that end in .edu or .gov. Only use .com addresses that have a well-established reputation for excellence (ex. MayoClinic.com).
If the academic credibility of a source could be questioned, do not use the source. o
Make note of page numbers, URLs, and quotable passages so that you can properly cite your sources. 4.
Write a working thesis statement based on the goal of the research paper. A thesis statement summarizes the overall point of a paper by making a claim and then listing points that will be used as evidence to support it. At this point in the process, you should only write a working thesis statement because it may change during the course of your research.
The thesis statement is almost always presented in statement form (roughly speaking: such and such is true because of x, y, and z). Unless otherwise instructed, avoid weakening your stance by saying “I believe,” “I think,” “some believe,” etc. (After all, the whole point of the paper is to prove that the thesis is correct.) o
If your assignment is to write an argumentative research paper, the thesis statement should state your position on the issue and offer several main points indicating why your research backs up your position. o
Your assignment is to write an analytical research paper, make your working thesis a research question (without taking a position) for now. Your answer to the question will later become your thesis. For example, if your topic is on the book To Kill a Mockingbird, your research question might be, "What role does honor play in To Kill a Mockingbird?" 5.
Compile and structure the “meat” of the essay. The meat of the essay (which will later become the body paragraphs) is where all the evidence is addressed and analyzed. If it helps your process, write the meat of the essay in outline form as a placeholder until you have a better sense of the direction you’d like it.
A good way to begin this process is to simply arrange your evidence on paper so that it tells a story – that is, introductory information first, then elaborating details and supporting evidence, then (seemingly) contradictory evidence, and, finally, information...
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