How to Write a Research Paper
Researching topics is just the story of your student life, isn’t it? Sometimes it even becomes too routine for you to be creative, and your grades might suffer because of that. We have collected some of the best tips to help you ease the process.
What is the first step you take when assigned a writing assignment? You choose a topic, conduct a preliminary search on the Internet, read a few sources, take some notes, and write the paper, right? That’s a logical course of action, but it could use some additional steps and methods to speed up the process and make it more efficient.
Research Paper Writing Tips
- Always select the topic for which you are most passionate. A research paper is not just raw data analysis. People will read it, and if you are genuinely interested in the topic, it will be easier to produce an engaging piece of writing.
- Today, everything is changing faster than ever before, so you need the most recent sources for your research. The first hits on your Google search aren’t always relevant to your topic. Use search tools and select a custom range; a five-year period is usually your limit going backwards. Use the library or peruse some journals related to your subject.
- Read up on a few methodologies. Do you need empirical or statistical data for your research? Can you find it on the Internet or do you need to gather it yourself? It is much easier to conduct a successful research project if you know what is going to happen and can prepare everything in advance.
- Plan your work and make an outline. It will be easier for you to write in chunks and for the audience to follow your thought process. Just remember that sections should be logically connected to each other.
- Decide beforehand if you are going to use primary or secondary sources. Primary sources are better because you get first-hand experience, but they also need more time for analysis. On the other hand, secondary sources explain the primary sources, but they also express a formed opinion. It’s your choice in how much time you can afford. The overall quality won’t depend on the type of sources you use, but how well you can interpret them.
- The best piece of advice you’ve ever heard is to take notes on everything. This includes questions that arise while you are researching, ideas, inconsistencies you notice, and so forth. Take your research paper a step forward by proposing a solution, or at least mention areas that need further investigation.
- Researching and writing isn’t hard unless you make it that way. Find topics that motivate and interest you, but don’t become distracted by too many choices.
- Be sure to provide for breaks in your schedule so that you get needed rest. For example, provide 10 minutes of rest for each hour, or 20 for two hours. When it is time to work, focus only on work. If you can’t focus at all, though, maybe you haven’t had enough rest, so don’t force yourself too much.
Other Helpful Thoughts
You know what topics should have been mandatory in high school? Three areas that help individuals to be successful in life are motivation, planning, and time-management.
- Motivation. If you are in a situation where you know you need higher education but you just can’t find it within yourself to keep studying, make up something. It is like that exercise where you have to write down three things you are grateful for in a diary, every day. Set a goal that can only be achieved through college, and feed it every day.
- Planning. Making an outline for your paper is always helpful. Introduction, body and conclusion are just the basics, but arranging your ideas and knowing what comes next is what will help you write more effectively.
- Time Management. Keep a schedule for classes and assignments. When you have bigger assignments to complete, don’t indulge in any major distractions or trips. This doesn’t mean you have to become a caveman with a computer; however, if you have too many demands all at once, everything will suffer.
One last thought is to seek help when you need it. It is important that you understand when that time comes. If you wait too late to get help, you may feel like giving up, and that is not acceptable.