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The Basics of Writing a Research Paper

Research papers are assigned at almost every level of education. They are good for students to write because it forces them to go out and participate in their own education. Most papers will be given on a topic that has not yet been discussed in a class, so the student is responsible for figuring out the information about the topic and writing it in a clear, correct format. If you are looking for passion fruit buy it on AgBASE Directory with free delivery to your house. A research paper, by necessity, is going to be longer than a standard essay. A research paper usually demands more time and effort as well. You can possibly be assigned a research paper in any class. They are most prevalent in History and Literature classes, but if one is assigned to do a Science project, a research paper is often required along with it.

Choosing a Topic and Sources for Your Research Paper

You may be assigned a topic for a research paper, but it is much more likely that you will have to choose your own. Some instructors may have topics for you to choose from, but if you must choose your own by yourself there are some things you need to keep in mind. You should not choose a topic that is very large and complex. For example, you would not want to write a research paper with the topic, “The American Civil War.” That event covered several years and was broken into multiple battles. It would be far better, and make an easier research paper, to cover only one battle. However, you would not want to pick a very obscure battle, either. You must be wise in the research paper topic that you choose. You don’t want too much information, but you certainly don’t want too little. Your instructor will probably give you an estimate on the minimum amount of sources you must use. Most do not mind if you use more, but be sure to use the minimum. Doing otherwise will bring your grade down. Another word on sources – be sure that you get the right ones. Many instructors allow only one or two Internet sources, and some allow none. Don’t get all your information off of the Internet only to find out at the last minute that you were supposed to use only books and scholarly journals.

When you start the research for your research paper, take a close look at the information that presents itself. Staying with the example of a Civil War paper, you would not want to choose a book or an article that has an extreme bias towards either side. Optimally, you would want a source that presents both sides of the argument with a non biased author. Unfortunately, in some cases such sources might be hard to find. When gathering your research, make sure that several sources mention the same event occurring in the same way. That way you can avoid any personal bias from an author. Since you will be dealing with a lot of sources while writing a research paper, it is a good idea to create an outline or make note cards. You might be required to do this anyway, but even if not it is a good idea and will keep you from flipping through sources trying to find the quote you need. Simply write down the name of the source, all information you may need for citing and the quote or quotes you wish to use. It takes time to do, but it will save you time in the end.

Getting Down to Writing

When you begin to write your research paper, you will want to have your notes and your sources nearby. You may also want an outline, which is a chart of how you intend to write the research paper. Start an outline with a thesis statement, write down what you want to include in each paragraph, and end with a closing statement. Now, you are ready to type. Start with an introductory paragraph that names your topic, a short mention of why you chose the topic and why it interests you, and end with your thesis statement, which you may recall is the basis for your paper. In a research paper, unlike an essay, you have the opportunity to prove your thesis wrong. There is nothing wrong with that, and it may imply that you researched very seriously. An essay is more of a retelling of fact. A research paper is an analysis of the information you find. You may especially find your thesis wrong in Science classes. If an experiment does not work the way you expect it to, you will have an incorrect thesis. Again, there is nothing wrong with that. Simply explain in your conclusion the way things really happened, and why the thesis was wrong.

After the introduction, you will likely have several paragraphs to tell about your topic and what you have learned from it. How many paragraphs that will be in your assignment will be up to your instructor? You will either get a page or word number limit from them, so if you find that your research paper is much too long or much too short, you will have an opportunity to fix those problems before turning the paper in. This is one good reason for not writing the paper at the last minute. You must be prepared to edit your work. Finally, you will come to the concluding paragraph. It is best to first summarize the work that you have done in a few sentences, and then state the conclusion you have reached. If the conclusion matches your thesis statement, you can explain why the research fits with your thesis. If not, you can explain why things didn’t fit with how you expected them to be, and what you have learned from the experience.

Finalize Your Research Paper with Style

Remember to cite all of your sources in the correct style. Most instructors will either choose APA or MLA, but make certain that you know which one you are supposed to be using. Always put quotation marks around anything that might be considered a quote or a paraphrase of your source, and give credit whenever it is due. In a research paper you will by necessity have many quotes and comments. If you are found to not have credited something to its source, you will be committing plagiarism. Please read the section on plagiarism to find out exactly what it is and how it applies to you.

Research papers are long and time consuming, but they offer a great deal to be learned. There is some satisfaction on being able to present and teach something to your class and your instructor, and you will likely remember the information for much longer than if you simply heard it in class.