When a student hears the phrase “you have to submit a research paper,” his/ her heart skips a beat. The very idea of writing a research paper makes students anxious and nervous, and this is actually for a reason. If you have to write a research paper fast, read on the article below and find out some great tips on successful academic writing.
1. Differentiate a research proposal from a research paper
A research proposal aka prospectus is an academic piece of writing the core aim of which is to convince your readers or target audience in the significance of your research and its further value. The proposal is a starting point of writing a research paper.
A research paper is an extensive piece of writing that demonstrates student’s skills and knowledge of the subject as well as critical thinking. Unlike a research proposal, a research paper is a finished academic product.
2. Delve deeper into the research process
Although this article mainly deals with the organization and structure of the very writing process, we could not ignore the role of the fundamental process of gathering and researching information. In-depth research of your topic will help you with the following:
1) You will understand your subject in depth;
2) It will be easier for you to collect ideas faster and formulate the core ideas for the paper;
3) You will have no difficulties formulating a thesis statement;
4) You will be more confident when speaking about your topic.
Therefore, as soon as you are assigned a topic, start gathering resources and reviewing them. You can find credible sources in the following databases:
• Google Scholar (online);
• Peer-reviewed scholarly journals;
• Government publications;
• Books and periodicals.
While you read information and come across some new and interesting facts, pay special attention to them and take notes. Writing down the most important facts will help you trace the central idea and find the information on the source when you need to provide in-text citations. To better understand the rules of proper citations, visit the Purdue Owl website, where you can find the rules and samples of how to cite references in different academic styles.
When taking notes, try to store them in a spreadsheet – it will help you access them regardless of the place you are at. Besides, you will be able to access the notes from different devices, such as a laptop, a PC, a tablet or your phone. Spreadsheets are also convenient for creating tables, where you need to write down the most important information about each source (such as the title, the author, the medium of publication, the year, the main quotations, etc.).
Before citing sources, make sure you clarify with your professor which citation style you should adhere to. Use the help of Grammarly Premium, which can help you identify the information that needs to be cited.
4) Organize your ideas before you start writing
Before the actual writing process, it is important to structure all the ideas in your mind. Free writing is good only when you write rough drafts or when you need to jot down just any information on the topic. If you overlook the organization process, your essay will not be properly structured and you will have the chances of being confused with your own ideas.
5) Work on formulating your thesis statement
The thesis statement is written as the last sentence of the introductory paragraph and it contains the focal claim you would like to put forward. It not only informs the reader what your paper deals with, but it also contains a brief summation of supporting points.
The significant role of the thesis statement lies in the fact that it guides your reader through your essay ideas from the very first to the very last body paragraph.
Although a thesis is normally written as the last sentence of the introduction, it is not always a rule. Some essays require a thesis at the very beginning of the paper (i.e. as the first sentence of the introduction).
The type and structure of the thesis statement depends on the type of the paper (whether the essay is a persuasive, analytical, argumentative or expository one).
Make sure you devote sufficient time to the thesis statement formulation. It represents the core idea of the paper and makes it clear to readers what you are writing about and why your topic is worth paying attention to. Without a well-organized thesis statement, your paper may be jumbled and chaotic.
6) Pay attention to devising an outline
An outline is a must if you want to organize your body paragraphs in a clear manner. With the help of the outline, you will provide a backbone for your paper and will have a clear vision of what each body paragraph should contain. Upon your thesis statement completion, think of how you will elaborate on it and support it in the body paragraphs. Identify at least three main points of the essay – these will be your subheadings in the paper. Now provide more detailed information under each subheading with supporting facts, details, and examples.
Any information that does not reflect subtopics or is not related to the ideas pertaining to your topic is irrelevant and not suitable. Therefore, do not even dare to include it in the paper as, no matter how interesting or important it is, it does not fit in. Make sure the focus is kept narrow. There are many new fascinating things that you learn every day but can all of them actually fit into any research?
Tips on Structuring the Body of the Paper
1. The introductory paragraph.
Here you have to provide background information on the topic to make sure that your readers know the context of what you are writing about. One of the core strategies that predetermine success for your introduction is a catchy opening sentence that grabs the attention of your reader.
Moreover, make sure you explain the purpose of your writing in detail so that the topic and its purpose are understandable. Also ensure you make it clear what kind of paper it is. Finish your introduction with a thesis statement.
All in all, the information provided in the introductory paragraph should cover three most important questions:
1) What is the paper about?
2) Why should I read it?
3) How can I discuss the core ideas?
As such, make sure you set the specific context for the paper. It does not mean you should focus on providing much general information but you ought to include 2-3 sentences with the most important facts/ aspects that led to your topic development. The background information should reflect the main sense of the paper.
Next, provide argumentation why the idea you focus on is worth attention. Here a reader should know for sure why the paper is worth reading till the end. At this point, try to be very convincing.
State your main claim. Preferable is one well-formulated sentence but you might as well write two sentences where you present your standpoint with sound reasoning, emotional appeal, and indication of discussion credibility (logos, pathos, and ethos).
2. The Main Body
At this point, take your previously written outline and see which structural parts of the paper you have identified. An outline comes in handy here as it will help you economize your time. With the outline, you already have a structural plan and what is left to do is to provide more details to each aspect and expand the plan with examples, illustrations, and supporting evidence. If you have written an extended outline, you will already have topic sentences and thus the process of organizing body paragraphs will be much easier and faster.
Finally, you will get to know how to write an effective conclusion for a research paper. The core purpose of a conclusive paragraph is to wrap up the ideas that have been previously discussed in the body paragraphs. Restate your thesis statement, but do not copy-paste it from the introduction. Rather argue whether it was proved throughout the paper. Focus on the results and outcomes of the paper (what you have actually gained).
After you have fulfilled the writing stages, it is high time to take a break before the paper revision. Editing and proofreading are the main stages of revising the paper. During the editing process, make sure to check on the content, logical structure, and coherent flow of ideas. During the process of proofreading, focus on grammar, spelling, punctuation, and typos.