Today HowToLearn.com guest EdTech writer, Sandra Miller will tell a step-by-step procedure in writing a research paper.
So What is a Research Paper?
A research paper is a written documentation revolving around a single topic that is supported by evidence-based on facts and relevant information.
Although it may be a tedious process, writing a research paper can be easy, as long as you follow the following procedures.
A Step-by-Step Procedure in Writing a Research Paper
1. Selecting a Topic
Finding a topic is probably the most challenging part of the whole process, especially when no topic is assigned.
Take this as an opportunity to know more about things around you by writing on something that interests you, or that you’re passionate about.
You can also browse the Internet, keep an eye on social media, or watch television to see what’s trending.
Once you find your topic, narrow it down by listing specific questions out of it.
One of these specific questions can be your thesis statement.
Keep in mind that a research paper focuses on one particular subject only.
For instance, if your chosen topic is about technology, narrow it down by looking into the effects of technology on children or how technology has made people’s lives easier.
2. Looking for Sources
Now that you have a topic look for sources and materials that will supplement your thesis statement.
There are various reliable and trustworthy sources you can use, such as:
- Periodicals, which include magazines, newspapers, journals or scholarly articles
- Online sources (however, avoid quoting blogs or personal websites, and Wiki sites since these are not reliable, will be subjective and are most likely getting information from other sources)
Make use of card catalogs or computer databases or any other guide in the library to locate the books or periodicals you can use efficiently
Also ensure that you are using the latest available information – journals published within the past five years, news articles as recent as possible, the latest editions of books, etc.
In this way, you can ensure that your findings are all current and unlikely to be out-dated.
3. Take Notes
Once you’ve gathered your sources, scan through it, and eliminate those you will not need in your research.
As soon as you establish which ones are relevant, read through all the information and make notes from it.
It might seem overwhelming at first, and in the beginning, you might not have any idea what you’re going to write about, but the picture will become clearer as you read.
You’ll begin to discover relevant points, branching out of your thesis statement, so make sure you note these down in an orderly manner to refer to later.
For organization purposes, use separate colors for each sub-topics.
Using the technology example, you can highlight topics related to the mental development of children in yellow, physical development in orange, and so on.
This will be easier for you to pinpoint and sort the information you need when writing your paper.
At the same time, arrange your notes according to sub-topics and relevance.
And don’t forget to write down the bibliographical information from where you got the details.
Remember that in writing a research paper, citing your sources is VERY important.
By citing your sources as you collect and organize your information, you’re making your life much easier.
You avoid having to go through everything again to input your citations, have everything in one place when you’re making your reference list, and don’t run the risk of forgetting a citation.
An outline is a systematic and logical representation of how the paper will look.
In making an outline, go back to your notes and incorporate your topic and the corresponding arguments.
This allows you to organize your ideas and points in a meaningful way and helps you keep on track when you start writing.
Planning ahead in this way will reflect in your final research paper – the reader will be able to logically follow your argument, whereas a lack of planning might make you stray from the point more often.
5. Write the First Draft
It is essential to establish your thesis statement at the start of your paper.
After establishing your claim, support it with data and information based on your research.
Again, your notes will play an essential role in this process.
If you feel that there is not enough information to supplement your research, look for additional materials.
If you’re unsure how to write a compelling essay or paper, there are plenty of resources to help you write a great one every single time!
6. Edit and Proofread
The first draft may be messy.
That is why it is also important to edit your paper by rearranging and adding paragraphs, omitting or adding information, and ensuring the flow and continuity of ideas.
Also, check that you have included whether all the sources you used in your bibliography.
Once you’re through with the editing process, there is a need to proofread your paper by making sure it is free from spelling, grammatical, or typographical errors.
Further, ensure that you have complied with all the instructions related to writing the research paper.
Ensure that you’re using the correct formatting specified by your professor in the assignment brief.
Often, students lose marks in the final leg of the race because they are so relieved to have finished writing the paper they overlook requirements like the formatting and submission procedures.
Is there a requirement to include a plagiarism report for your paper?
Ensure that you finish your final draft a couple of days before the submission deadline.
As such, you have enough time to check your paper for plagiarism.
If the rate is above the allowed limit, this gives you time to edit your paper and check again to get it to an acceptable level.
By following these steps, you will surely write your research paper effortlessly.
It may require a lot of work, but knowing how to write a research paper in an organized and systematic way cuts down on time you might waste and boosts your efficiency.
And it also results in a high-quality research paper!
Now that you have a step-by-step procedure in writing a research paper, do you feel more prepared to write your next essay?
Do you have any further questions on how to write a good research paper?
Let’s discuss below!
Sandra Miller is an edtech writer from Brooklyn, and helps students to make their research papers perfect!
[ Updated – October 15th, 2020 ]