Writing a research paper is something all college students will have to do at some point before they graduate. However, writing such a document is not the same as writing a high school essay. If it is your first time handling such a task, the whole process may seem daunting, and you are more likely to stare at a blank page for a while before you know where to begin.
It should not be intimidating to write a good research paper. You need structure and have arguments that flow from one section to another. An excellent paper will move from being general to specific and start with the context of the work. It should either test a theory or develop one. If it does not have either, it will look basic. However, how do you go about writing a good research paper? Here are some steps for you.
- Know your topic
You can write a research paper on anything. However, try and narrow down on a specific topic and focus on it to make things easier for you. If your topic is not specific, you will have a broad argument that will prove challenging to support as you continue writing.
The more focused your topic is the easier it will be to present clear arguments and support them well with data.
- Understand the sections of your paper
Research papers follow specific structures. That will mostly depend on what your instructor needs. It could be APA or Chicago format. Regardless, such a document needs specific components that form an inherent part of your work.
The components may include the cover page, title page, abstract, and content. Also, they must consist of an introduction, the body, findings, a discussion, conclusion, references, and appendix.
- Get your data ready
You need to gather all the essential data, plots, analyses, and tables before you begin. When collecting data, ensure they come from reliable sources. For example, library catalogs, bibliographies, and periodical indexes can work well.
Once you have the data, you need to organize your results in a way that they stick to a logical sequence. Next, discuss the data and only include the essential points.
- Build a thesis
Building a thesis means you are ready to articulate your arguments. Regardless of your opinion, a research paper must have a thesis. It is a statement that tells the readers what you are trying to prove.
The statement tells them what your research paper is all about. Make it simple and clear. After that, begin writing and organize your work with data.
- Revise your work
Read your finalized paper again. Ensure that the figures provided are accurate and subtle. You should also ensure you have correctly referred them to the text. Give yourself enough time to revise the document before you submit.
When writing a research paper, ensure you understand the topic and the format. However, perhaps the most crucial thing is to ensure that the document is explaining a problem that you seek to resolve. Your paper should have concepts that are specific to the issues you are investigating.