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At some point during their college careers, most students will have to face the challenge of writing a research paper. As those who have written one before know, it is no easy task. But the writing process should not intimidate students. Even those who write well do so only after many attempts and by practice. Many students come to college unprepared to write a custom research paper simply because they have not had the opportunity to do so during high school. Thus, they do not know the basic components of a research paper and are bewildered when assigned to write one. This paper attempts to remedy the situation and provides an overview on the fundamentals of writing a good research paper. This paper focuses on the major elements of a research paper and explains them in detail. In addition, this paper includes a list of dos and don'ts that work for most research papers. Finally, for interested students who are reading this article, (and chances are you are a pretty good one concerned with your grade) some strategies on how to get the grade that you deserve are discussed.
A good research paper is basically a sustained inquiry about a particular subject. Not only is the student answering a question, but he/she must also ensure that the statements one is making are valid. Thus, the research element comes into play. Most teachers are not only interested in the student's opinion, but also in the manner by which students support them. Students need to substantiate their claims when custom writing a research paper. For example, the statement, "Many women are no longer content to be housewives," is your opinion. Your opinion, of course, matters; however, what is more important is how you support your claims. Thus, the student would need to research sources that support the statement made. For instance, the student could dig up sources that describe why women are no longer content to be housewives. Or, the student could find sources that explain what exactly women are doing, now that they are no longer content with being housewives. Thus, conducting research is one of the most important parts of the paper.
One thing to keep in mind is that you will come across a lot of facts when conducting research and only some of these facts will be relevant to your paper. It takes some skill to separate the wheat from the chaff. The following categorization is quite helpful. Research can be divided into three categories: background information, supporting information and opposing information. The background information should be brief and to the point. It is basically a summary that either a) explains why the topic that you chose is significant or b)provides a brief history of your chosen topic. Either option provides the reader with a context in which to situate your topic. Supporting information helps to drive your argument forward. It is basically research that validates your opinion. Each source that you include in your paper should help make your opinion more believable and plausible to the reader. Opposing information is useful when it is necessary to strengthen your position on an issue. Many writers like to include opposing information before they substantiate their claims. One thing to remember is that the reason you are including opposing information is to counter it. After you state your opposing information, it is important to also state why it is not valid. This is a useful tactic to persuade the reader to take your side. Thus, the key points to remember is that research is necessary to validate your opinion and that research can be organized into the following categories: background, supporting and opposing information.
Finding a topic to write a custom research paper on should be easy but it isn't. Many students, from the outset, pick a topic that is too broad or too narrow for the purposes of their papers. This can be a big mistake. For example, imagine writing a five-page essay on "How Confucianism manifests itself in Chinese cultural beliefs." It is impossible! A trick to narrow down your topic is to focus on a particular aspect of the subject by asking the questions: Why? How? Who? and When? Let us apply this advice. For the previous example, we could ask the question, "Who?" and narrow down the subject to focus on "How Confucianism manifests itself in Chinese business practices." That is much more manageable. Thus, when choosing a research topic, students must be careful that it fulfills the requirements of the paper.
The heart of any research paper is the thesis statement. You will here this time and time again. It is important for a reason. A thesis statement lets the reader know a) your position on a particular issue or b) what exactly you are trying to prove or substantiate. Your paper should be organized around your thesis statement. Each paragraph should move towards supporting your thesis statement. Think of it this way: the thesis statement is your main argument while all other paragraphs are formed around sub-arguments or validations. If you think slowly and carefully about the direction of your paper, it is not even necessary to write an outline. Just keep asking yourself "How does this support my thesis statement?" and your paper will follow a logical trajectory.
The supporting paragraphs should all work to support the thesis statement. A tip to keep in mind is that the supporting statements will focus on a particular aspect of the thesis statement. Supporting statements can a)clarify your position on an issue b)provide key definitions related to the topic and c) discuss the "how" and "why" aspects of the thesis statement and d)discuss patterns or inconsistencies in development. Just remember, your supporting statements are important because they develop your thesis further and explain your position or perspective on a particular subject or issue.
So, you've finally made it to the end of the paper. Now, all you have to tackle is the conclusion of your essay. A good way to remember the purpose of the conclusion is to think of it as a "wrap-up." The conclusion is where you restate your thesis, preferably using different words, and sums up your argument. This is definitely not the time to add a new point or aspect of a subject. Don't mess up your conclusion by leading your reader astray. You may also want to briefly recap some of the major supporting statements. If you really want to impress your teacher, you may even want to discuss implications for further research. Or, in other words, state how your research can either be further developed or how it ties in to related areas of study. Thus, the conclusion should leave the reader feeling as if he/she has understood your point clearly.
Following is a list of Dos and Don'ts related to writing a good research paper:
Now that you have gotten the basics of writing a good research paper down, here are some added tips to ensure that you get the grade that you deserve. Remember to always proofread your term paper or essay. One cannot stress enough the importance of doing a spelling and grammar check. Another tip, a skill that comes with practice, is to become familiar with the tone of each source that you read. Just like you, the writer of a book or article is attempting to validate his/her opinion and wanting to persuade you to agree with him/her. An argument can be made more powerful if the student is acutely aware of the argument that the author is trying to make. Finally, the motivated student should make time to visit their professor's or T.A.'s office hour to get help on all aspects of the research and paper writing process and double-check if he/she is following instructions.
Spelling and grammatical errors have no place in a research paper. Many professors are quite strict about them and will find fault with your paper if it is littered with typos. Many word processors have a spelling and grammar checker. Become familiar with it. In addition, it is also important to review your work after the spelling and grammar check because sometimes they will miss particular errors. A good paper indicates that the student has paid careful attention to its presentation. Hence, the importance of proof-reading.
Most issues have two or more sides to them and a highly analytical style of writing is to organize your research paper into the different camps presented. This shows that you are not merely a "fact-seeker" but a person who can critically understand the dynamics of making an argument. In the beginning, most writers will assume that all that they read is factual. That is okay. But once a student becomes used to researching, they will notice that each source provides a particular perspective on an issue. A careful researcher will be able to discern the subtle inflections of an author and will be able to understand his/her arguments more thoroughly. Once a students becomes familiar with this type of reading, he/she can further develop his/her position by organizing their paper according to the different arguments made. This technique shows the reader that the student is quite capable of understanding arguments and making strong ones of his/her own.
The last word of advice is to visit your professor or T.A. during office hours. That way you can ensure that you are following their instructions precisely. It is also the perfect time to voice and questions or concerns that you may have about the paper. In addition, most teachers will be more than happy to help you find sources relevant to your paper. They hold a wealth of information in their field of study and are glad to share it with you, if you have the time to listen. These leads can help cut down research time and give you confidence that you are headed in the right direction. Make the effort to talk with your teacher during office hours.
In conclusion, this paper has provided a discussion on the fundamentals of writing a good research paper. It has examined the major components of a research paper and discussed them in detail. In addition, it has provided a list of major do's and don'ts that apply to most research paper. Finally, it has provided some added tips on how to get the grade that you deserve. This advice will come in handy and hopefully give students the knowledge they need to write good research papers.
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