Towards the end of the year or the semester, students are often asked to submit at least one research paper. More often than not, this comes with much stress, sleepless night, coffee, and a lot of work. Of course, some may seek help online, some hire tutors while others frantically google “do my homework for money.” However, it doesn’t have to be this way. The trick to a stress-free research paper is planning and dividing your work into smaller, more easily manageable stages. To write a winning research paper while staying motivated you will need advice, a well-thought-out plan of action, and some useful tools.
Choosing an interesting topic.
Your topic choice is crucial. Because each research paper demands studying various approaches, techniques, hypotheses, etc., you need to be sure that your topic of choice has been investigated by other scholars. If not, you will be spending twice the time and effort doing substantial research of your own. Another reason topic selection is important is since you will be spending a lot of time working on this project, you need to make sure you don’t get bored, which will certainly show in your writing. To stay engaged, you must work on a topic that grabs and retains your attention.
A trick to finding something that interests you is writing a few questions about a particular subject that makes you curious and formulating a topic based on which question grabs you the most.
Find reputable sources.
When you are doing a deep dive into a topic, you have to be certain that your research is based on statistics and checkable facts. Therefore, it is crucial that you only use verifiable sources. Some examples would be Google Scholar, Google Books, or Microsoft Academic. These allow you to find various articles, books, journals, or other types of research material. You can simply type in your inquiry into the search box and browse the list of relevant links. Here are a few other websites:
- Site with .gov or .edu extensions
- Online libraries such as NSDL (National Science Digital Library) or NAP The National Academies Press)
When you are compiling your list, don’t forget to make a little note next to each to remind you exactly what you will be using them for.
Crafting a thesis statement
Once you have your list of sources, it’s now time to create your thesis statement. A good way of going about this is to look through the list once more and order the sources in a logical way. Add some of your own ideas to it and be as precise as possible. Be sure to avoid wordiness, though, and break up your sentences when possible. Omit any unnecessary adjectives, adverbs, and other “fluff.” The purpose of this statement is to clearly explain what this research will be dedicated to. Make sure the below states bullet points are covered:
- How will you reach your goal?
- Methods used?
- Expected results?
The Outline and the Draft
Creating a detailed outline for your research paper is a major step. This outline will serve as your guide as you navigate the process to your final point of destination. To help along the way, you can also add subheadings for further clarity. A little tip – make sure that keep your sources, and your notes separate to prevent unwanted plagiarism.
Cite your sources and bibliography correctly.
You have to cite materials in your paper if you are to avoid blatant plagiarism. Make sure you cite these sources accurately and correctly. You can consult various style guides such as APA or MLA in order to heal you along the way.
The final step.
Once your research paper is done and ready to be submitted, take the take to double and triple-check it for grammar, stylistic mistakes, punctuation, typos, format, and proper citation. It also never hurts to have a colleague or a friend look it over.