Writing a Research Paper
Writing a research paper requires a significant investment in both the perusal and assessment of scholarly research and the coherent synthesis of that research into a readable paper. Many college students are inexperienced in writing research papers and are therefore intimidated by the prospect; however, they will soon discover that writing a reference report is far more time-intensive than it is difficult. In addition, they will find that writing research papers is quite different from writing essays in that the bulk of the work for the assignment is not writing at all, but research.
Writing a research paper at a level appropriate for college requires students to perform extensive investigation into the scholarly materials available on their topics. Effective research requires a learner to examine the major sources of information in the particular field in which he or she is writing. These information sources are frequently pointed out to the student by his or her instructor. If not, a research librarian at any university library will be able to suggest where students should begin their search for information. In almost every case, this search will focus on library resources and online databases rather than the internet. There are many valuable online sources, but they typically must be accessed through a library database. The internet is often not a valid resource because many sources on the internet are not peer-reviewed. Sources found on the internet can assist students begin their research, but unless they are peer-reviewed, they should probably not be included in the body of the project itself.
Once the research has been completed, a student is ready for the writing process. The most difficult aspect of the writing component of writing research papers is organization. Therefore, the student should determine how he will present his research by constructing an outline. This outline should follow a general-to-specific order. Nearly all reference reports will be organized in a general-to-specific fashion. This means that the first page or pages of the document will provide background information on the topic and present the writer's thesis, and the report will then progress to increasingly more complex ideas about that topic. This helps the reader follow the argument.
After a rough draft of the report has been completed, the student must invest significant time in editing and revision. This includes devoting attention to matters of grammar and clarity as well as matters of proper citation. When writing research papers, learners should ensure that all of their sources are carefully and accurately documented both within the text and in a references or works cited page. This ensures that a student's text is polished and academic, and protects her against any issues of plagiarism.
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