Are you staring at a blank screen in front of you with no idea how to start writing your college-mandated research paper?
While research papers may seem difficult and painstaking at first, they’re not all too complicated when you go through the proper steps. Here are some guidelines on writing a strong research paper:
Organize Your Notes Before You Start Writing
The first tip for writing a great research paper—and avoid feeling overwhelmed—is to organize the research you’ve collected before you start writing. This step will give your research paper the much-needed focus.
Creating a bibliography (a list of articles, books, and other sources you plan to use in your research) can help you better organize the factual information. Bookmarking the resources on your web browser also helps you quickly locate the resources you came across during the research process.
Additionally, you can print a list of these resources, and jot down relevant points on sticky notes or table cards and refer to them from time to time.
The Thesis Statement
Now that you have a better idea of your research topic, you’re ready to articulate an argument, opinion, or assertion of your own.
A thesis statement summarizes the main idea of your research topic and gives a preview of the supporting points. A well-thought-out thesis statement guides the readers on the central idea you’re putting forward and how you will continue to try to explain or prove it.
Creating The Outline
An outline further helps you organize and structure your paper before you begin the writing process. The main points you’ve discussed in your thesis statement can be your sub-headings or main sections.
So, for instance, if you’re asked to introduce the research topic, discuss the different opinions on it, and then choose one to support it with your own research and opinion. It also helps to discuss your need to include a main section for each of those objectives.
When creating the outline, think critically about what you need to communicate to the readers and what kind of structure will help you do that best in an organized manner.
The outlining stage is also the perfect stage to determine which information is actually relevant to your research paper. Topics that don’t fit within your outline and don’t directly support the thesis statement need to go, no matter how interesting. Keeping your focus narrow is key when writing a research paper.
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