A very big academic challenge in both high school and college is the research paper. Instead of solely expressing your opinion, the research paper requires facts and analysis to prove your point – something not all students regularly do.
Although seemingly difficult, there is a method to it. The following are the essential steps to follow to complete this daunting task.
- Select a topic you like
Because of all the reading involved, it will be hard to create your paper if you do not like your topic. So if your teacher gives you free rein to choose, be smart and pick something you are interested in. And should your teacher provide a small list to select from, go for the one closest to your heart.
- Create your thesis statement
This is a tricky part as your paper will revolve around what you wish to prove. So invest some time reading as you will only be able to make a good thesis statement once you are familiar with the issue. Many find that they must read a minimum of three sources before they have a clear idea of what they would like to prove, disprove, or explain in their paper. Your thesis should not be too broad, and you should have enough sources to back up your thoughts.
- Research well
Once you have a working thesis in mind, it is time to do some thorough research. The initial three sources are good to have, but you will need more to make your paper more credible. A good rule of thumb is to have at least three sources per side of your topic to show your reader that you understand both positions well.
- Make your first draft
In a research paper, you will need more than one draft. To create your paper’s introduction, body, and conclusion. As you write, try to find ways to insert key facts to strengthen your work.
Usually, the introduction and each of the key points in the body should have at least one reference. For the conclusion, it is necessary to summarize the main points and end in a way that strongly proves your point.
- Revise and proofread
Oftentimes, your teacher will check your first draft for things to improve. Once the comments are in, it is time to revise accordingly. This may include searching for more references to strengthen your argument or even changing how you tackle the idea. But once those changes have been made, it is now time to have your paper proofread. Some use online grammar websites to help them, while others hire a professional proofreader. Though the latter is a bit costly, if you consider the effect of your research paper’s score on your final grade, it is often worth it to have professional eyes looking at your work.
The research paper is a challenging project, but something that can be done with hard work and patience. Take note of the steps above so that you can complete your paper well.