Writing Guide: Writing a Research Paper

There'll come a time in many students' careers when they can be assigned a research paper. This kind of assignment frequently creates an excellent deal of unneeded stress, which might lead to a sense of inadequacy and confusion and procrastination. This tension often comes from the fact that many are inexperienced with this genre of writing. Writing a research paper shouldn't be prevented on account of one's stress and is a vital facet of professors. Actually, the procedure for composing a research paper can be among the more rewarding experiences one may strike in professors. Furthermore, many students will continue to do research throughout their careers, which is among the reasons this issue is so significant.

Becoming writer and a seasoned researcher in any subject or area takes an excellent deal of practice. There aren't many people for whom this procedure comes naturally, it takes practice. Recall, even the most experienced academic experts have had to learn the best way to compose a research paper sooner or later within their profession. So, with diligence, organization, practice, willingness to learn, and, maybe most significant of all, patience, a writer will find that she can attain amazing things through her research and writing.

This guide includes these four critcal sections:

Genre- This section will provide an overview for understanding the difference between an argumentative and analytic research paper.

Selecting a Subject- This section will direct the student through the procedure for selecting subjects, whether the issue be one the writer selects himself or one that's delegated.

Identifying a Crowd- This section will help the student comprehend the often times confusing issue of crowd by offering some fundamental guidelines for the procedure.

Where Do I Begin- This section also supplies a summary of the final stages of writing a research paper.


Genre and the Research Paper

A research paper is the culmination and final product of an associated procedure for critical thinking, research, source evaluation, organization, and composition. It's, possibly, helpful to think as a living thing, which grows and changes as the student investigates, interprets, and evaluates sources related to a particular subject of the research paper. Primary and secondary references are the core of a research paper, and supply its nourishment; without the support of and interaction with these sources, the research paper would morph into another genre of writing (e.g., an encyclopedic post). The research paper functions to supply the pupil with an extraordinary chance to raise her knowledge in that area, but also not only to further the area in which it's composed. It's also possible by what it's not to identify a research paper. Research: What it's not.

A research paper isn't only an educated overview of a subject by way of secondary and primary sources. It's neither a book report nor an opinion piece nor an expository essay consisting only of one's interpretation of a text nor a review of a specific subject. Rather, it's a genre that demands one to spend time assessing and investigating sources with the objective to offer not unconscious regurgitations of those sources, and interpretations of the texts. The aim of a research paper isn't to tell the reader what others must say about a subject, but to draw on what others need to say about a subject and engage the sources in order to offer an unique view on the problem at hand. This is achieved through two important kinds of research papers.


Two important kinds of research papers.

Argumentative research paper:

The argumentative research paper is composed of an introduction where the writer tells his audience just which position he means to take and certainly introduces the subject; this position is frequently identified as the thesis statement. An important aim of the argumentative research paper is persuasion, which means the subject selected should be controversial or debatable. By way of example, it'd not be easy for a student to successfully claim in favor of the subsequent position.

Smoke smoking can result in cancer for both the smoker and presents medical risks.
Maybe 25 years ago this issue would have been debatable; yet, nowadays, it's presumed that smoking cigarettes is, really, dangerous to the health of one. A thesis that is better would be the following.

Although it's been shown that cigarette smoking can result in sundry health problems in the smoker, the social acceptance of smoking in public places shows that secondhand smoke is not still considered by many as dangerous to one's health as first-hand smoke.
In this sentence, the writer isn't challenging the present position that is approved that both firsthand and secondhand cigarette smoking is not safe; instead, she's positing the societal approval of the latter over the former is indicative of a cultural double standard of forms. The pupil would support this thesis throughout her paper with the aim to carry her audience that her unique interpretation of the scenario is workable, by way of both primary and secondary sources.

Analytic research paper:

The analytic research paper frequently starts with the student asking a question (a.k.a. a research question) on which he's taken no position. Such a paper is frequently an activity in assessment and investigation. By way of example, maybe one is interested in the Old English poem Beowulf. He's read the poem intently and wants to offer the academic community a new reading of the poem. His question may be as follows.

  • How should one interpret the poem Beowulf?

His research may lead him to the subsequent decision.

Beowulf is a poem whose intention it was to function as an exemplum of heterodoxy for tenth- and eleventh century monastic communities.

Though his subject may be contentious and debatable, it's not the pupil's intention to convince the crowd that his thoughts are correct while those of others are incorrect. Rather, his aim would be to offer a critical interpretation of secondary and primary sources through the entire paper--sources that should buttress his unique investigation of the issue. The following is an example of what his thesis statement may look like after he's finished his research.

Though Beowulf is frequently read as a poem that recounts the supernatural and heroism exploits of the protagonist Beowulf, it might also be read as a poem that functioned as an exemplum of heterodoxy for tenth- and eleventh century monastic communities.

This statement doesn't negate the conventional readings of Beowulf; rather, it offers a thorough and fresh reading of the poem that'll be supported by the research of the student.

It's usually not until the pupil has started the writing process that his thesis statement starts to take solid shape. The truth is, the thesis statement in an analytic paper is frequently more fluid than the thesis in an argumentative paper. Such is among the advantages of approaching the issue with no position that is predetermined.

Selecting a Subject

Step one of any research paper is for the pupil to comprehend the homework. If that isn't done, the pupil will regularly go down many dead end roads, squandering a whole lot of time along the way. Don't hesitate to approach the teacher with questions if there's any confusion. A clear comprehension of the duty will let you concentrate on other facets of the procedure, for example identifying your audience and selecting a theme. Subject

In regards to selecting a subject for a research paper a pupil will usually fall upon one of two scenarios. The first scenario occurs when the teacher provides a list of subjects from which the pupil may select. These issues are deemed worthy by the teacher; so, the pupil should be assured in the subject he selects from the list. Many first-time research workers understand this kind of arrangement by the teacher because it removes the worry of having to decide upon a subject independently.

On the other hand, the pupil may additionally locate the issues which were supplied to be restricting; furthermore, it is common for the pupil to have a theme in mind that will not fit with any of those supplied. If that is true, it's always advantageous to approach the teacher with the thoughts of one. Be respectful, if the issue you've got in mind would be a potential research choice for the homework and ask the teacher. Recall, as a first-time research worker, your knowledge of the procedure is quite restricted; the teacher may have really exact reasons for selecting the subjects she's offered to the group, and is experienced. Trust that she's the best interests of the class in head. If she enjoys the theme, wonderful! If not, don't take it and select this issue from the list that looks interesting to you.

The second scenario occurs when an assignment sheet that covers the logistics of the research paper is only handed out by the teacher, but leaves the option of matter up to the pupil. Generally, assignments in which pupils are given the chance to to select the subject need this issue to be related to some facet of the class; thus, keep this in mind as you start a class in which you understand there will be a research paper near the ending. This way you can be looking for a subject which could interest you. Don't be troubled on account of a perceived lack of knowledge or authority about the subject selected. Instead, understand that it requires training to become an experienced researcher in any area.

Strategies for selecting a subject

To beginning early believing leads. If the pupil starts when the duty is granted thinking about potential issues, she's already started the arduous, yet rewarding, job of preparation and organization. Once she's made the appointment a precedence in her head, she may start to have thoughts through the day. Brainstorming is often a successful means for pupils to get several of those thoughts down on paper. Seeing one's thoughts in writing is often an impetus for the writing procedure. Though brainstorming is especially powerful when a theme was selected, additionally, it may benefit the student who's not able to narrow a subject. It contains a timed writing session during which the pupil jots down—often in bulleted or list kind—any thoughts that come to his head. For patterns of uniformity, the pupil will peruse his list at the end of the timed interval. It may be wise to pursue this as a matter possibility in case it seems that something appears to be standing out in his head more than others.

It's important for the pupil to remember an first matter that you simply come up with may not be the precise issue about which you wind up writing. Research subjects ordered more by the pupil's on-going research than by the first selected subject, and in many cases are fluid. Such fluidity is not unusual in research, and should be included as one of its many features.

Identifying a Crowd

The notion of crowd can be quite confusing for beginner researchers. Should the audience of the pupil be her teacher just, or should her paper effort to reach a bigger bunch that is academic? These are two extremes on the pendulum-class that's crowd; while the latter is overly extensive, the former is too narrow of an audience. Thus, it is necessary for the pupil to pronounce an audience that falls somewhere in between.

It's maybe helpful to approach the crowd of a research paper in exactly the same manner one would when preparing for an oral presentation. Frequently, one alters her design, tone, diction, etc., when presenting to different crowds. So it's with writing a research paper (In fact, you may have to transform your written work into a verbal work if you end up presenting at a seminar someday).

The teacher should be considered just one member of the crowd of the paper; he's part of the academic crowd that wants pupils research, to investigate, and assess a subject. Make an effort to envision an audience that would be interested in and gain from your research.

For example: if the pupil is composing a twelve page research paper about its value and ethanol as an energy source of the future, would she write with an audience of primary pupils in head? This would not be likely. Instead, her writing to be accessible to an audience of fellow engineers and possibly to the scientific community in general would be tailored by her. Moreover, she'd presume the crowd to be at a particular educational level; so, she wouldn't spend time in this type of brief research paper defining concepts and terms already familiar to those in the area. Nevertheless, she should also prevent the sort of esoteric discussion that condescends to her crowd. The pupil must say a middle ground.

The following are questions which could help the pupil identify farther her crowd:

  • Who's the general audience I'd like to reach?
  • Who's likely to be interested in the research I'm doing?
  • What's it about my subject that interests the general audience I've identified?
  • What should I do to pique its interest if the crowd I'm writing for isn't especially interested in my subject?
  • Will each member of the crowd that is generally conceived agree with what I need to say?
  • If not (which will probably be true!) what counterarguments should I be prepared to reply?

Remember, among the goals of a research paper will be to add something new to the academic community, and the first-time research worker should comprehend her purpose as an initiate into an unique community of scholars. As her involvement raises in the area, her understanding of her crowd will grow also. Practice lies at the center of the thing.

Where do I Start?

There's template nor shortcut for writing a research paper the procedure is, amongst other matters, one of organization, and practice, expertise, and starts with the homework being correctly understood by the pupil available.

As many college students understand, the writer may discover himself composing three rather distinct research papers for three classes that are rather distinct all at exactly the same time within a session. Each of these papers may have expectations, guidelines, and fluctuating page durations.

Thus, in order for a pupil to become an experienced researcher and writer, she mustn't only pay special attention to crowd, subject, and the genre, but must also become proficient in outlining, researching, drafting, and revising.


Drafting is among the last phases of composing a research paper in the process. No drafting should take place with no research question or thesis statement the pupil will find himself composing without course or a goal. Believe of the research question or thesis statement as a compass. The research the pupil has finished is a vast ocean of information through which he must browse; with no compass, the waves of sources will toss aimlessly around the pupil. Sooner or later, he might find the Americas (though the journey will be a lot longer than desired), or—and what's more likely—he'll sink.

Revising, Editing, Proofreading

  • Important, extensive, changes to the various drafts of a job
  • An assessment through the job of word selection
  • The removal paragraphs entire pages of text, and occasionally, rather painfully
  • Reconsidering the entire job and reworking it needed

Editing is a procedure interested in the general look of a text, and contains the following:

Evaluation of the uniformity of voice and tone through the entire job Correction of minor errors in typography and mechanics Assessment of the legitimate stream of idea between important thoughts and paragraphs

Since much of what's written on is bound to transform anyhow, this procedure is best finished toward the final stages of the job.

Proofreading is the final stage in the writing process, and consists of a comprehensive closing reread in order to discover any errors which could have been overlooked in the preceding revisions.