Writing a research paper is probably one of the most dreaded assignments in school. Most students spend way too much time writing their papers and then they get a bad grade because they didn’t follow the rules or they didn’t write it well. We’re not here to tell you how to write a research paper, and how the research process to make it easier.
The process of writing a research paper might seem intimidating at first, but it really isn’t that difficult if you break the research process down into smaller steps. First, you gather information—reading the material and outlining the structure of your paper. Then, you write an introduction and a conclusion in the . Finally, you proofread everything and correct any mistakes.
The truth is, any research paper writing has five steps that are always followed in the same order every time:
Step 1 – Write an Introduction
Research papers can go in many different directions, so the best place to start is by thinking about what your topic is and where you would like it to go. Are you going to focus on a narrow subject or cover a broad area? Would you prefer to conduct primary research or secondary research process? What types of things would you be most interested in looking into more?
2. Gather your Materials
Once you’ve decided what kind of project you’re working on, the next step is gathering all the materials that you’ll need for it. Remember that every project is different depending on the subject matter in the research process, but there are some things that are almost universal: books, journals, articles from magazines/newspapers, and online databases (like EbscoHost and JSTOR). You can also find links to other databases through Google Scholar or these sites: http://tinyurl.com/research-resources.
For this step, start thinking of places where you might find useful information and take note of any specific keywords or phrases that could help when searching for sources later. It can be helpful if you have a system for organizing your notes as you write them so that they’re easy to find when you need them again later.
Step 3 – Outline your Content
Take each of the related topics and decide how you want to organize them in your paper. You should have about three to five sections for most papers. Then, for each section, write down each point you want to make in that section. Once you’ve finished doing that, read through it again and make sure it flows logically from one idea to the next—the best way to do this is to read it aloud! Now that you have your outline laid out on paper (or on-screen), start writing your rough draft using this skeleton as a guide.3. Start with the introduction since the introduction is usually one of the shorter sections of a research paper, start there—you’ll need this first part done before moving on any further.
Step 4 – Begin with a Rough Draft
If you’re writing a research paper, the first thing to do after you’ve finished your outline is to write the rough draft of your paper. Just because this is a rough draft doesn’t mean that you should skip over it or rush through it. It’s important to take the time to think about what you’re going to say in each paragraph before you actually put it down in words. Once you’ve written your first draft, go back through and look for weak sentences and phrases that don’t convey your meaning clearly. These are good places to make changes. Once you’ve made all of the changes you want to make, read through the paper again and make sure it flows well. You may need to add transitions between paragraphs, or simply clarify something that came out awkwardly in the draft stage.
The goal of this step is to get as much of your argument down on the page as possible. Don’t worry about getting it right yet—this is just a rough draft, so feel free to go way off the beaten path and stray from your outline if necessary. You may want to first use a highlighter or scrap paper to mark sections that need more work. Then, once you have a good idea of what you want to say, sit down at your computer and start typing.
Step 5 – Proofread and Revise your Paper
Proofreading is the final step in the process of writing a paper and the overall steps in research process, and it’s very important to do. It may seem like a small thing to check for typos and grammar mistakes, but doing so can make a big difference in how your reader will perceive you. Even when you have written what you think is an error-free paper, it’s best to proofread it multiple times.
Revising is a little different, though: revising means thinking about what you’ve written, really going over the ideas in your head, and deciding if they’re as good as they could be. Revising is more challenging than proofreading because it requires more creativity on your part, but it’s also important because it gives you the chance to improve your ideas before you hand them in.
When you’re done with each reading, go back over anything that struck you as odd or confusing while reading it, whether it be a sentence that didn’t make sense or a word that seemed wrong. Be sure to look over any citations as well, making sure they’re formatted correctly and are attributed to the right source—a quick internet search might be necessary here! The more eyes that look at your work, the better!
When you’re writing an essay for school, it’s easy to get caught up in the varied steps in research process of that your professor will love. But it’s helpful to remember that the end goal isn’t necessarily a captivating piece of literature; the goal is to present your ideas and research clearly, so that your professor can understand them. When you’re writing a research paper, don’t forget to focus on clarity over everything else. If there’s something you need to explain or elaborate on, go ahead and do it, but don’t overdo it. As you’re writing, read each piece out loud and ask yourself if what you’ve written is clear to someone who doesn’t know anything about the subject. If not, fix it until it is.