Before anything else, it is important to keep in mind that a thesis or a dissertation is different from a research paper. Although both papers are academic and require the student to do knowledge search, a research paper does not obligate the student to present original findings—a practice which is always required when writing a thesis. A research paper allows a student to visit as many published studies as possible to prove or disprove a hypothesis by utilizing them as evidences. It may sound simple, but it is not that easy to write a research paper, not without efficient preparation. The following steps will help you.
Choose a topic
Usually, a topic for a research paper assignment is assigned by the instructor. If not, find a topic which interests you so that it will feel like you are doing your research because you want to, not because you have to.
Narrow your topic
A common mistake (and perhaps the worst mistake) when writing a research paper is discussing a topic without focusing on a single aspect. Research papers are often limited to a certain word count. Hence, the best thing to do is to select just one aspect of a given topic to avoid losing the room for discussion of the more relevant concepts.
Knowing how to write a research paper involves the mastery of gathering information. You cannot write about something that you do not know, so read as much as you can on the specific aspect you choose, and do not forget to take notes. List the information you need and list down the bibliographical details of the material where you got that information. The last thing you want to be called for is because of a plagiarism case.
Decide on a question to answer
Since the realm of information is endless, deciding on a specific question to address can give you full control on what information you will seek, which consequently, will reduce the possibility for mistakes.
Formulate your thesis statement
A research paper is called a research paper because you really do have to research information. Hence, you cannot do the first three steps without doing research. In fact, in between those steps is the need to read and gather information. The real writing begins in formulating a thesis statement.
Organize your thoughts, create an outline!
Now, this is an optional step, but it is highly recommended because since you have read a lot, your thoughts have the tendency to scatter all over the place, and you would not want to get frustrated because you forgot to mention one important thing in your paper. Creating an outline will also allow you to get a good look on how your paper will flow. Thus, you can spot the parts where you lack information.
Write your first draft
The hard part of preparing how to write a research paper is over now. All you have to do now is sew all the information you got into one coherent paper. Technically, you now have all you need; you just have to lay them down for formatting. Just follow your outline and again, and do not forget to cite your sources.
Revise, revise, and revise
Take a few minutes of rest before starting to revise your paper because chances are, your brain will not pick up the errors you made (typographical, etc.) right after you have written your first draft. After that, proceed to reading your paper, find every error you can find, and correct them.
When you are done, read it again.
This is how you will finish that research paper you have been meaning to deal with, but just do not know where to start. Remember: read before you write. Knowing how to write a research paper requires reading, proofreading, revising, reading, and rereading. Do it over and over again until you feel satisfied.
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