Knowing how to write a research paper for a college student is crucial because most courses require it. In this article, we’ll discuss the leading elements of a research paper.
How to Write an Academic Paper
Here are steps to writing a successful research paper:
Take time to plan your paper; it will save you time and inconvenience later on.
- Ask for Clear Instructions
Ask for clarification on the guidelines from your lecturer/professor regarding the required format and suitable topics. Your teacher may give you topic options, but in most cases, you’ll select one yourself.
- Brainstorm Ideas
Before choosing a topic, you should first brainstorm research paper ideas. Ask yourself which essay topics do you consider intriguing and pinpoint those that evoke strong opinions in you.
- Select a Topic
Having identified those topics that seem more promising, narrow them down by assessing your academic strengths and market gaps. Do make sure there’s enough source material for the topic you chose.
- Plan Your Outline
Outline your overall aim here. What do you want to demonstrate to your readers, and how will you do it?
In this stage, you’ll be doing information gathering. Below are some pointers on how to carry out research:
- Befriend Your Librarian
Yes, although old-fashioned, you can still gather information from a library. You can find relevant sources much quicker and easier with the help of a qualified librarian.
- Look for Quality Sources
Make sure you’re citing from reputable source materials. These could include textbooks, scholarly articles, and academic databases and websites. Consider keeping a record of your references to help build your paper’s bibliography later.
- Have a Good Understanding of Your Topic
Understanding your topic makes you come across as an expert on the topic to your readers. Read broadly on the subject before narrowing to a particular area of concern and critically assessing your findings.
- A Comprehensive Outline
Once you ascertain you have a firm grasp on your topic, you can then create an outline. It should be detailed and include your thesis statement and explain how you plan on supporting it.
Having understood your subject fully and gathered reliable quality source material, you can start writing.
Your language should be clear and simple, and your points detailed but brief. You will also need to be creative to make your paper more interesting by finding original perspectives and new insights on your topic.
Finish Your Thesis Statement
The thesis statement, which is usually 1-2 sentences, should clearly explain what your paper intends to achieve. The other sections should support the argument or viewpoint your thesis statement presents.
Your subject area will determine the correct format style for your academic paper. Your instructor should provide you with clear formatting instructions.
All research paper projects, to a degree, involve sourcing information from other people’s works. It’s, therefore, crucial that you correctly cite the sources you use to avoid accidental plagiarism.
You’ll likely write a couple of drafts before arriving at the final draft. The editing procedure may involve:
- Fixing of weak points
- Better balancing of both your primary & secondary sources
- Checking that you meet the required amount of words
- Ensuring your argument and evaluation is clear and more balanced
If you’re satisfied with the balance and depth of your paper’s points of argument, you may double-check finer details. These include formatting, punctuation, spelling, and ensuring you have included all your references and cited them correctly.
Once you’ve made the final check, submit your essay as per the submission guidelines, preferably before the deadline day. And if your schedule permits, take a study break and unwind.