Research Paper Writing Help


(Updated on August 14, 2018 by Michelle Williams)

The research paper has been a part of your life since grammar school.  Even in kindergarten, teachers introduced you to the idea of collecting data and subsequently writing about your findings.  You may have completed your first research paper with crayons and attached cute drawings of flowers, butterflies, clouds, and lady bugs, but that early work still provided a glimpse into your future of academic writing and research.  Even though research papers—especially those that professors will assign to you in college—are undoubtedly more complex and time-consuming, you can morph into an amateur scholar and immerse yourself in a fascinating subject.

Be Creative: Choose a Topic That Inspires You!

Research Paper Writing Help

Most teachers and professors will give you an adequate amount of time to settle on a topic before you begin to gather research.  More often than not, your assignment will be focused on a narrow subtopic of a particular subject.  For example, an engineering paper may permit you to conduct research about robotics and the latest trends in artificial intelligence.  Papers focused on the life sciences, like zoology or marine biology, may require you to conduct in-depth field research; therefore, your topic will take you out into the world to collect fascinating specimens of indigenous insects, plants, fish, algae, or even small mammals.

When choosing your research paper topic, work within the assigned parameters and find a topic that not only works for you, but allows you to bring something truly fascinating to the table.  A research paper won't be boring if you're completely engaged in your topic and taking away a valuable educational experience.  Don't stress about getting that coveted "A."  Just enjoy the step-by-step process of unraveling the mysteries of an interesting area of research.

Establish Your Angle: Argumentative or Analytical?

Depending on the course in which you're enrolled, you may be required to take a certain type of approach to your research paper.  If your course is political science or literature, the paper may have an argumentative slant, so your collected data would be used to persuade a reader as to the validity of your side over another.  On the other hand, your instructor may ask you to take an analytical approach to your document; therefore, you would be required to take a fresh look at your topic without arguing against another established point, but you would still need to convince the reader that your analysis and research have merit.

Let the Games Begin: Conducting Your Research and Gathering Data

The research process is arguably the best part about completing a research paper, for it takes you out from behind the school desk and into the world!  Before you begin hitting dusty literature books or drudging through a marsh, it's good to have all your materials organized and ready to go.  Not all research papers are made alike, so it's best to understand the appropriate mode of research before rolling up your sleeves and jumping in head first.

When your instructor asks you to conduct "primary" research, he/she is requiring you to collect original sources only; primary sources will often include original newspaper articles, authentic archived letters, and real specimens gathered from sources like marshes, forests, or the ocean.  However, should your instructor also require "secondary" sources, then you must continue to gather research compiled by a scholar or published writer; these sources would be published PDF research papers, academic journals, or a data survey.

Organization is key to successful academic research, so plan out all the details prior to collecting your data.  Scientific research will often require you to set a specific timetable if specimens must be gathered at a specific point during the day, week, or month.  For example, if you're conducting research on tide pools, then you have limited opportunities to collect your sensitive data.  You may be completing a research paper on crystal growing environments, so you would need to draft up a daily log to document the progress of crystal growth in lukewarm or freezing temperatures.  If your document is centered on the obscure history of a neighboring town in your city, then you may have limited windows of opportunity to access archived materials.

Conveying Your Research to the Reader: Buckling Down and Writing Your document

After the research part is over, it's time for the inevitability of turning your collected data into a comprehensive paper.  Throughout the course of your research, you probably stumbled upon a killer thesis statement or two, so this is your moment to put those ideas into practice and blow the reader away with your ingenuity.  In order to do your research justice, bring your all to the writing portion of the assignment and reveal how fascinating your data is.

It's important to ask yourself why this research is important and how it benefits the subject or even those reading the paper.  While conducting your thorough research, you may have come across some issues and discovered a problem never discussed before; that's a perfect opportunity to engage the reader because you're giving him/her true insight into your mind and process.

Every student has strengths and weaknesses; many excel in the research and analysis arena but feel less confident about their writing skills.  It's not uncommon for exceptionally bright students to struggle with grammar, run-on sentences, structure, or conveying their point correctly.  Therefore, it's best to establish a brilliant idea first, like your thesis statement, and seek help from on-campus tutors to guide you and proofread your document.  By virtue of seeking help alone, you're vastly improving your abilities as a writer and will have a template to reference for future research papers.

Before turning in your groundbreaking research paper, it's always wise to do a final read-through of your finished work.  Given how much data you've collected, you don't want to miss out on an important piece of evidence, but you don't want to include anything that doesn't contribute to the objective of your research, either.  Regardless of the added anxiety that comes with a "grade," if you've followed all the necessary steps and truly gave it your all, then you've succeeded.  Congratulations—you're an amateur scholar!

How to Write a Good Research Paper

The best way to learn how to write a good research paper is to practice the skills related to academic paper writing (see below).  A research paper is a popular assignment in college courses, and often one that counts for a significant portion of student grades.  Such papers are assigned so that students can (1) become familiar with scholarly research—a central skill for college success and, often, career success, as well; (2) gain expert knowledge on a particular subject related to the course; and (3) learn how to synthesize and report on secondary research in such a way as to make it available to others.  There are many skills necessary to successfully accomplish these three goals; thus, even students who know how to write a research paper may find themselves wondering how to write a good research paper—how to transform a C paper into a B paper or a B paper into an A.

  1. Read research texts.  Students often overlook the importance of being familiar with the genre in which they're supposed to write.  This is the equivalent of attempting to draw a cartoon without ever having seen one.  One of the best and most important ways to learn how to write a good research paper is by reading a variety of investigation-based texts.  This will help students become aware of the tone, style, language, and organization commonly used in research papers.
  2. Research thoroughly.  Some students believe that the research for a research paper can be done exclusively on the internet.  This isn't the case.  Most sources on the internet will not be appropriate for a college-level research paper.  The majority of scholarly materials aren't available on the internet, but must be accessed through libraries.  In order to truly fulfill the research paper assignment, a student will have to browse through a variety of academic materials found in or through a university library.
  3. Organize wisely.  One of the most noticeable differences between a good and a mediocre research paper is sound organization.  The report should guide the reader through the subject in such a way that each concept or idea introduced builds on what has come before in a logical, gradual, and natural progression.  When learning how to write good research papers, learners will find it helpful to create research paper outlines before beginning the drafting process, as this will assist the student in organizational planning.
  4. Be discriminating.  One of the most important lessons to acquire when learning how to write a good research paper is how to determine which quotes, paraphrases, and pieces of information to include and which to leave out.  A general guideline is as follows: only quote when (1) the way the writer put the words can't be changed without changing the meaning of the passage, or (2) when what the writer said is exceptionally important or insightful—important or insightful enough to make the words worth repeating.  Paraphrasing should be used liberally, but must always be properly cited.  Information does little to contribute to the understanding of the topic of the document should be omitted.

The differences between a mediocre research paper and a good one are marked by how well a student executes these skills.  Mediocre research papers are unclear and wandering.  Good research papers are focused and direct.  Mediocre research papers don't engage the reader; good research papers make the reader care about the subject matter.  Mediocre research papers are poorly cited and stylistically weak; good research papers are properly documented and stylistically polished.  In essence, the difference between a mediocre and a good research paper is can be linked to how fastidious a student is about analyzing, engaging, and revising.  Most students can learn how to write good research papers; it just takes effort and time—significant effort and significant time.

Steps to Writing a Good Research Paper

There are many elements that go into making a good research paper, including extensive research, writing, editing, and proofreading.  Therefore, in order to create good research papers, students need to develop a timeline and a plan that ensures that they have ample time to complete each step of their research, writing, and editing process thoroughly.

The first step to creating a good research paper requires that students understand the assignment requirements and topic .  In most cases, professors will give students written assignment requirements that they can reference during the researching and writing processes.  However, learners should also be sure to ask professors any inquiries that they have about expectations, requirements, and more.

After a student understands the topic of the report, he/she can begin his/her research.  Students need to keep in mind that the difference between good research papers and bad research papers often comes down to how comprehensive the research is.  Additionally, the nature of a good research paper writer requires that the writer keep detailed research notes that remind the student of details he/she discovered through research.

Students should spend a great deal of time working on the outlines for their documents before they begin the actual drafting.  The outlines will help to create good research papers by ensuring that the student has an appropriate amount of content and that the flow is as smooth as possible from one idea to the next.

After a student has completed his/her research paper outline, he/she can begin the writing process.  Students should always remember that a good research paper is completed and rewritten several times before it's ever submitted for a grade.  Therefore, students need to be sure that they have plenty of time for several drafts.  Many students are also able to improve their documents when they have it reviewed by an on-campus writing center or professional writer.

There are many differences between a good research paper and a bad research paper.  Not only are good research papers well-researched, well-written, and well-developed, but they also follow style guidelines properly.  Many professors require their students to use particular style guides, such as MLA or APA.  A good research paper will follow these guidelines perfectly so that the professor receives a paper format that he/she expects.

However, a bad research paper may be poorly researched and developed, and loaded with formatting and grammatical errors.  All of these elements can cast an unfavorable light on the student, which may result in a lesser grade.

Research Paper Thesis

A research paper thesis is a sentence or group of sentences that asserts the main point or argument.  Research paper theses should be easily identifiable and presented within the first 1/4 of the text so that the reader is fully aware of the primary objective early in the reading process.

Developing a research paper thesis is different from developing an essay thesis only because a research paper thesis can't usually be developed until after the student has already done significant research.  This is because a student must be aware of the general thoughts presented in the body of literature available on his/her topic before he/she can truly develop an idea about the focus of his/her assignment.  The thesis articulates this focus, so it can't be composed until after the student is aware of some of the research.  The student should therefore select a topic for the document first, and then perform preliminary research on that topic in order to develop a thesis.

A research paper is an academic document; therefore, the reader will expect the report to follow the conventions of academic writing.  One of these conventions is that the document should outline the primary point in addition to providing one or more reasons supporting that point.  A research paper thesis is, in essence, an indication of what will be discussed and in what order.  The thesis shouldn't leave room for the reader to be surprised later in the text; rather, it should assert in precise language what the report will explore and how it will explore it.  For instance, if a student were completing a research paper on the influences of J.S.  Bach on the music of Ludwig van Beethoven, the report thesis would first present some assessment or interpretation regarding that influence (such as "J.S.  Bach's innovative harmonic structures had a huge impact on Beethoven's own harmonic exploration, particularly in regard to Beethoven's keyboard works.") and then discuss how that point is going to be supported in the text (such as "This influence can be seen through a comparative harmonic analysis of some of Bach's organ and keyboard works and Beethoven's early piano sonatas.").  In this way, the reader is absolutely clear on what the report will be about (the influence of Bach on Beethoven's keyboard works) and how it will explore that idea (through an analysis of both composers' keyboard works).

Research papers that engage or focus on particular bodies of research should mention those bodies of research in their document theses.  For instance, if a research paper were going to focus on the research of a particular institution or group of thinkers, the document should indicate such by saying, "Recent research out of _____ University has suggested that it may be possible for pigs to fly by 2020; however, close investigation into pig anatomy and general aerodynamics reveals that such an event would be physically impossible."  Research paper projects that are cast in this way indicate to the reader that the report will be focused on exploring a specific body of scholarly literature.

Organizing a Research Paper

Students new to research paper writing often struggle with how to organize a research paper.  This is because research papers are long documents that present a great deal of information.  This makes determining how to organize research papers quite difficult.  However, there are several tips and tricks that students can learn to help them develop a sense of research paper organization.

First, learners should firmly commit to the idea that the way of organizing a research paper is different from the way of organizing other texts a student may have had to write.  This is because a research paper is likely much longer than other texts a student may have done, and it's also reliant on the inclusion of many and varied secondary sources.  Therefore, the organization of a research paper must account for the successful integration of those sources into the text alongside the student's own words.  In other words, a research paper can't present its research in only one section—it must be threaded throughout the entire document.

The best way to learn how to organize a research paper is to study the organization of other reports—particularly successful projects.  Often, reading accomplished research papers will give students a feel for how to organize research papers of their own.  Students should examine such documents to determine how long the introduction and conclusion are, how the writer transitions from one topic to another, how each topic is defended, and how the conclusion comments on the report as a whole.

Nearly all research papers 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 will then progress to increasingly more complex ideas about that topic.  This helps the reader follow the argument.  Sometimes, students struggle with how to organize a research paper within that general-to-specific order.  For instance, they may not be sure of which topic is more general or specific or which seems to fit better in a certain place.  To remedy this, it may be helpful for students to experiment with different orders by using a word processor to cut and paste paragraphs into different sections.  This can allow the student to see how his/her assignment may look in several different forms.

The process of learning how to organize research papers is best facilitated through the composition and analysis of several drafts.  In this way, a student can determine any given research paper's best organization, and by so doing, learn the process of determining any text's best organization.

How to Begin a Research Paper

No matter how many papers students have completed over the years, it can be tough to know how to begin a research paper anew.  Each new research paper not only requires that students become familiar with a new subject of study, but it also requires that students take an entirely different approach to their documents.

One thing is for sure when it comes to research papers: no two papers are the same.  Therefore, questions about how to begin a research paper may depend on the type of project that a student is writing.  For example, students completing a research paper about legal issues may have a very different approach to their research than students completing a research paper about science projects.

Regardless of the subject matter of the report, when it comes to how to begin a research paper, the first few steps should always be the same.

First, a student should begin by making sure that he/she understands the research paper.  Often, teachers will explain in detail how to begin research paper assignments by using specific resources, such as Lexus Nexus or a database that the teacher prefers.  Some research papers may also be centered on specific resources, such as a book or other literary item that will then be the focus.

After a student understands everything that he/she can about the report assignment, he/she should do some preliminary research into the topic.  For example, if a student needs to research the Civil War, he/she should try to find out if there's a particular battle, technology, or idea that he/she would prefer to focus on.  Often, questions about how to begin research papers will begin with in-depth research into the potential research paper topics or broad genre.

Once a student has selected a specific topic, he/she should research that topic until he/she understands as much as possible about the topic.  Only once the student feels that he/she has enough information to complete an informative and original report should the student actually begin formulating the research paper outline and drafts.

When it comes to how to begin a research paper outline, many learners benefit by including as many details as possible.  Some students color-code their outlines to match their research notes in order to ensure that the information is as clear as possible when he/she begins to write the actual draft.

Questions about how to author research papers are different than questions about how to write other academic works, such as literature reviews and essays.  Other academic papers will require research, but the research may vary.  For example, when a student has to complete a literature review, he/she has to read a specific literary work.  When a student has to complete an essay, he/she has to write the assignment from his/her perspective.  However, when a student has to complete a research paper, he/she needs to perform objective research into the subject matter in order to provide an impartial collection of information about the particular topic.  Research papers often require a wide variety of sources, as well.

The Standard Research Paper

A research paper is an academic document that's based on a body of data collection.  It shouldn't only address the reason for the research, but it should also discuss methods used during the research, resources, and conclusions.

Research papers vary in length and format based on the academic subject, assignment requirements, findings, and project scope.  The level of study will also influence the information contained within the document.  For example, a university student may be required to include charts and graphs in his/her assignment, whereas a high school student may be able to include more basic information.

All standard research papers should contain at least the following information organized in the following order: title page, introduction, body, conclusion, references.  The title page should contain the title of the report as well as the name and contact information for the author.  Different professors may also require additional information on the title page, such as the course number, keywords, date, and more.

The introduction provides a brief background into the particular subject that will be addressed.  The introduction introduces the reader to a particular problem that the author has attempted to address through the research and summarizes the conclusion.  Unlike an essay, the introduction doesn't contain a thesis statement.

The body should be the longest part of the document.  It will include information about the methodology and procedures that were used during the research.  It will also contain conclusions that the author found during each step of the research, problems that the author faced, and detailed information about the purpose and implications of the research.  The conclusions mentioned in the body of the text should address problems and concerns related to the methodology; they aren't conclusions related to the research as a whole.

The conclusion needs to include specific findings that the researcher discovered from the entire body of research (not just from step-by-step procedures).  Research paper conclusions also discuss the variables that could have influenced the findings as well as any other pertinent discoveries that the author made during the course of the research.  Many research paper conclusions also contain suggestions for further research, especially higher-level research papers.

The reference section of the report needs to include specific references that the researcher used, such as papers, books, surveys, and other materials.  These materials should be cited.

Research papers are often confused with essays.  It is easy to confuse the two—after all, essays are often based on research.  However, a research paper follows a specific format, which describes a researcher's procedure, methodology, and conclusions in detail.  In contrast, an essay is designed to provide information and opinions on a particular topic, but doesn't necessarily describe the methods used to come by those opinions or information.

Examples of Research Papers

Research papers are academic documents that students produce as part of a high school, undergraduate, or graduate school program.  In order to produce such a report, students need to invest a significant amount of time into researching a particular subject.  After the student has completed his/her research, he/she can create a project based on that research.  Many students benefit by looking at examples of research papers before they write their own.

When students need to look for an example of research paper documents, they may find success online.  There are many online resources available to help students learn about research papers and academic writing in general.  Students may not only find examples of research papers, but they may also find an example of research paper outlines, drafts, and more.

If a student looks for examples of research papers online, it may be in the student's best interest to look for examples that are in line with the particular subject about which a student needs to complete a research paper.  For example, if a student needs to complete a research paper about Shakespeare, the student may wish to look at examples of research papers that have also been written about Shakespeare.

In many cases, when a student uses an example of research paper drafts or outlines, he/she can create an effective and thorough paper on his/her own.  By beginning with a draft, the learner will be able to see the flow and amount of content that may be required or recommended.  In such a situation, by starting with the draft, the student can flush out additional research and information in order to create a custom project that meets the specific needs of his/her assignment.

There are many ways to find an example of research paper drafts and outlines.  It is always a good idea for a learner to be aware of the specific requirements of a research paper before looking online for examples.  The student should then not only check to make sure that the report drafts and outlines meet the needs of the student's assignment, but he/she should also check the sources of the examples.  Students need to ensure that the supplier of an example of a research paper outline or draft has received a high grade for the example or that the example meets standard research paper guidelines.

An example of research paper drafts isn't always a research paper draft that a student can buy or use as his/her own.  In some cases, an example of a research paper may be copyrighted or not for public use.  Students who are considering basing their own papers on drafts that they find online need to make sure that they're legally allowed to use that draft before copying it and using it as the basis for their documents.

Research Paper Process

A research paper is an academic text that presents scholarly studies and opinions in order to inform or persuade.  Such papers are often assigned in college and graduate courses to encourage students to become familiar with the scope of scholarly study on a particular topic.  They shouldn't be confused with essays; the primary purpose of a research paper is to present the writer's individual ideas and opinions on a topic.  Though many essays will require a research component, an essay isn't a research paper because it's centered in the writer's own thoughts and opinions.  A research paper, on the other hand, is a more objective text.  It may attempt to persuade the reader to a certain opinion held by the writer, but it does so through the presentation of scholarly opinions rather than the writer's own logic and ideas.

The first step to completing a good research paper is to pick a clear, specific topic.  A research paper is an assignment, not a book; therefore, learners should avoid selecting topics that require book-length research.  An example of a topic that's too large for a research paper is the Spanish Civil War.  This is an enormous subject.  Prefer a very specific part of the Spanish Civil War, such as the role of women in the Spanish Civil War.  This is still a very large topic, but could be written about within the span of a several-page research paper.

Often, research papers are assigned in order for the writer to investigate a topic thoroughly and then synthesize the most important aspects of that research.  To do this effectively requires the writer to perform considerable investigation into his/her selected topic.  The research component of the project is often the most time-consuming and difficult aspect of the composition process.  Effective research requires a learner to investigate the major sources of information in the particular field in which he/she is writing.  These information sources are frequently pointed out to the student by his/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 aren't peer-reviewed.  Peer-reviewed means that a text is read and critically assessed by experts in the field in which it's completed.  Those experts decide whether or not the text is valid for publication.  Many sources found on the Internet can assist students begin their research, but unless they're peer-reviewed, they should probably not be included in the body of the project itself.

Once a student has gathered and reviewed many sources on the topic at hand, he/she is ready to begin the writing process.  Because a research paper presents so much information, however, a student shouldn't sit down at his/her desk and launch into the writing process without first organizing how all of his/her sources are going to be presented.  A research paper is a type of text that benefits greatly from a general outline.  This need not be a detailed document, but merely a rough sketch of the order in which the information is going to be presented.  All sources that refer to the same subject or make a similar point, for instance, should be grouped together.  Furthermore, the writer should take care to organize the entire paper so that it progresses from general ideas to specific ones.  In the research paper on the role of women in the Spanish Civil War, for instance, a description of the roles of women in Spanish society during this time shouldn't come after a discussion on women's participation in battle—it should come first.

Students should take care when completing research papers that all of their sources are carefully and accurately documented both within the text and in a references or works cited page.  These citations and references should follow the specific style format required by the student's instructor and discipline.

Research Paper Requirements

Research papers are common writing assignments given to college students.  Students will likely be required to produce at least one research paper for each course they undertake.  Designed to help supplement the information presented in the course text book, research papers are a way for instructors to ensure that students are keeping up with the material and that they understand the material that's being presented in the course.

In addition to supplementing the material that students will study from the text book, research papers are a way to encourage students to explore subjects which are related to the course material but which may not be directly studied as a part of the course.  However, many times, the instructor will use the text book, research paper writing, and supplemental materials present the most comprehensive picture of the topic as possible.  In essence, the text book, research paper exploration, and supplemental material such as in-class presentations, lab study, and out-of-class assignments all work together to help students learn.

All research papers have a few basic requirements.  Regardless of the type of paper, there should be an introduction, a paper body, and a conclusion.  The introduction should include a thesis statement as the last sentence or two of the introductory paragraph.  The paper body should include three or more paragraphs designed to support the research paper's thesis.  And, the paper's conclusion should be a well-written paragraph which pulls all of the information together, restates the thesis, and concludes the presentation.

Other requirements for research papers might include paper formatting.  The most common formatting requirements are one-inch margins, double-spaced text, and basic in-text citations.  Depending on the type of paper, a bibliography might also be required.  Some research paper assignments will require that students create what is called an annotated bibliography.  It is simply a biography that includes the basics of authorship, publisher, and title information for the reference materials used to write the assignment, in addition to a brief synopsis of the source material and perhaps a sentence or two about its usefulness to the project.

Following the guidelines set forth by the course instructor is one way for students to earn the best grade possible for their submission.  Students must also take care to pay attention to such aspects as spelling, grammar, sentence composition, and basic writing skills.  These skills are rarely mentioned by the college-level instructor because, by the time a student has reached college, such skills are assumed.  For students who are having trouble, help is often available in the university writing lab.

How to Do Research Papers

When students are learning how to do a research paper, one of the first things that they learn is that the research is the most important part.  After the research, the writing is important, of course.  Yet, unless students can perform a suitable amount of research and be able to organize that research in a meaningful way, learners will have a very difficult time actually composing a research paper.

When students ask about how to do a research paper and want to know where to begin, they should start by considering their topic.  Many professors will assign a topic that a student must write about.  Sometimes professors will also assign a question that students will need to answer by researching for the document.  However, when a professor allows students to select their own topics, students may have a more enjoyable time completing research papers.

The exact methods that students take to research the topic depend on the topic and the professor.  Therefore, when students ask about how to do research papers research, students may get very broad answers.  To begin, students need to plan an approach.  The approach should help the student who has questions about how to do a research paper schedule, as the approach will help the student to organize his/her time and plan how he/she will go about the research.

Next, the student needs to find resources and begin to review those resources.  Some students will benefit by reading books and magazines about their topics.  Other students may need to interview experts.  Some students may even need to perform experiments.  Therefore, how to do research papers research always depends on the subject and the student.  The student and professor may work together to determine which methods will work best for a particular research paper.

As the student begins to write the report, he/she may note that research papers are objective documents that require learners to write about facts.  How to do research papers writing will depend on the student's preferences.  However, learners should refrain from providing commentary or from being too subjective.

When a student goes about studying and completing a research paper, he/she should be careful not to follow the same approach that he/she would when completing an essay.  Of course, when a student completes an paper, he/she will need to perform research in order to complete the document.  However, essays tend to be subjective works that a learner will complete from a particular point-of-view.  On the other hand, research papers are objective documents that learners write in order to convey facts and information.

How to Write a Research Paper

In order to find the right information about how to write a research paper, students need to begin by reading over the research paper requirements that were given to them by a professor.  Many professors will even provide students with their own instructions for how to write research papers, which students should follow if they want to submit a project that a professor is more likely to approve.

Once a student has read over the report assignment requirements, he/she should consider his/her assignment writing experience.  Many students who don't have a wealth of research paper writing experience may look for examples of research papers in order to get a better idea of how to write a research paper and of what types of information should be included.

There are several different elements that students should consider when they're learning how to write research papers.  Such papers aren't just about the research or the writing; they're also about finding the right topic to write about and following the right format.  Therefore, students may need to familiarize themselves with several different variables that influence a well-written research paper.

For example, if a student needs to complete an MLA style research paper, the student will need to learn specifically about how to write a research paper in MLA format.  If a student needs to complete a research paper essay, he/she will need to learn about how to write a research paper essay, which may be different than completing a traditional paper.

Whenever students look for information about how to write a research paper, it's important that they not only find information specifically about how to write a research paper, but that they don't confuse this information with details about other types of academic works.  Because there are so many different types of academic works and requirements, students should learn how to recognize the difference between each so that they can write in the proper format for each of their different assignments.

Completing a Research Paper

Students who are unfamiliar with how to author research papers often find such assignments intimidating and stressful.  Typically, this is because those students are unsure of the process of writing such a text, or even of how to begin.  Writing a research paper is actually a very straightforward process than can be completed in a series of methodical steps:

  1. doing the research while taking research paper notes;
  2. assembling an outline;
  3. writing the draft(s) and editing;
  4. turning in the final paper.

Because most students already possess the skills of taking notes, writing outlines, and composing drafts, they need only refine those skills or apply them in new ways to learn how to write research paper notes, research paper outlines, and research paper drafts.

Learning how to author research papers is very similar to learning how to write essays.  When students are taught essay writing, their instructors don't simply assign an essay one night for homework and expect to receive essays the next day.  First, the instructor teaches the class how to write paragraphs, then how to write multiple paragraphs on one topic, then how to write to a specific audience, etc.  Learning how to write a research paper is no different; the student must understand and acquire the skills to complete the many steps/components before synthesizing all of those things into a finalized text.  The primary difference between learning how to write an essay and learning how to write a research paper is becoming familiar with academic research.  Most essays include only limited research.  A research paper, on the other hand, will include significant research.  Therefore, a student must become familiar with how to find, assess, and comment on scholarly research before he/she can successfully complete a research paper.

One of the most significant skills that a new research paper writer needs to acquire is knowing how to write research paper notes, which are different from the type of notes that a student will take in class.  They must be very detailed and carefully distinguish between the words of the note-taker and the words of the source by properly using quotations and citations.  Research paper notes must be extremely thorough so that the student can later turn the notes into a complete and comprehensive outline and draft.

Once a student's research is complete, he/she must apply his/her writing skills to learning how to write research paper outlines.  A research paper outline will differ in only one way from the type of outline that a student would write in preparation for an essay: it must incorporate the student's research notes.  Like an essay outline, it should detail the primary sections and then list the points that will be discussed in each section; it simply must also include an indication of which research studies will be discussed in each section.

After composing an outline, a student need only follow the outline to create the research paper draft.  This process is the same as completing an essay draft: the first draft should get down the main ideas of the text and begin to structure them in an organized way.  The next draft should refine both the ideas and the structure, and the final draft should finesse the grammar, spelling, and style.

Even students who have never completed a research paper before have the skills they need to complete an accomplished one.  They must simply rely on the report-writing skills they already have and learn to apply them to a new genre of writing.

What Is a Research Paper?

One of the most common questions that many learners ask is "What is a research paper?"  Students are especially curious about how to author research papers when they transition from high school to college.  While many learners do write research papers in high school, then tend to be more common (and frequent) in undergraduate programs.

When students ask what is a report, one of the best ways to explain to them the nature of research papers is to simply state that a research paper is an academic body of written work that describes research that a student performs.  Research reports shouldn't only include information about the background and purpose of the research, but also specific information about the research that the student has performed, as well.

Students who are curious about "what are research papers" should know that a research paper requires its own type of writing style.  For example, unlike other forms of writing, such as essays, research papers will always require that a student performs research.  Therefore, the first step towards completing an effective project involves doing research.  The second step involves processing that research in a way that's easy to understand.

When a student wonders about what is a report, he/she should be aware that a research paper is centered on the student's research.  Because research can lead to a variety of ideas and results, learners should begin to write their documents only after they have completed a research paper outline.  After all, what are research papers good for if they don't include all of the information that a student wishes to include in a succinct and easy-to-read format?

The basic format for a college report should include an introduction, which states the purpose as well as background into the topic and a brief introduction into the steps that the student has taken (or will take) when performing the research.  The introduction basically explains what is a research paper purpose.

The body of the document will describe the results that the student has found from the research itself.  Students should write this section objectively, taking time to explain what the results of the research indicate and why they think certain results were achieved.

The conclusion of the document should summarize the research paper results.  In the conclusion, learners shouldn't only recap what they discovered during their research, but they should also provide their own conclusions and input.  The summary of the report may be subjective.

When students wish to know what research papers are, it's important that they're aware that research papers aren't essays.  Reports can be completed based on research, though; essays are academic documents that can be based on research, information, or ideas.  They are often considered to be one of the most informal academic papers.

A research paper is generally a formal academic work that's always based on research.  While the subject of the research may differ, the style and format of the project is always centered on the specific research.  Therefore, when students ask," What is a research paper?"  they need to understand that the report will not only require in-depth research, but it will also require that students follow a strict structure and include a substantial amount of information about their research topic.

Thesis Research Paper

A thesis research paper is a standard type of academic writing that students may have to complete for a variety of different grade levels.  Whenever a student needs to complete thesis research papers, he/she should follow a standard process in order to ensure quality and completeness.

The standard process for completing a thesis research paper at any level of academic study involves several steps that students should take seriously if they wish to create an effective project.  First, the student needs to select a topic.  When it comes to thesis research papers, professors usually allow students to create their own topics because the thesis is usually a long document that students will have to spend an extended amount of time writing.

After the student has selected a thesis subject, he/she needs to spend a good deal of time researching the topic.  During the research, the learner will likely get a better idea about what angle he/she wishes to take with the project itself.  In other words, researching a broad topic will help a learner to choose a subtopic that he/she will focus on.

When the student chooses a topic, he/she can start to draft the outline for the document based on his/her research.  The outline should contain contents that flow smoothly from one to the other.  The student may also revise the outline multiple times before he/she actually begins writing the document.  Revising the outline is far easier than revising the project itself.

The format for thesis reports should always include an introduction, body, and conclusion.  The introduction should provide background information about the topic of the report as well as any definitions for terms that the learner will use.  The introduction also needs to contain a thesis statement.

The body of the research paper should contain separate paragraphs that support the thesis statement.  Each paragraph should have new information and ideas.  The conclusion will tie together all of this information and ideas so that the student can express his/her own conclusions about the research.

A thesis research paper is similar to a standard research paper in many ways, including format, style, and method of creation.  However, students may create standard research papers many times for one course.  A thesis research paper is usually only completed once per course and it's generally the last assignment that a learner will work on for a course.  Therefore, students often work on thesis research papers throughout the semester, even as they work on other smaller research papers.

Research Paper Steps

All college students will have to complete a research paper at some point.  In fact, it's likely that they will have to write several, since research papers are a favored assignment for most professors.  Research papers require learners to explore a topic in-depth, become familiar with scholarly ideas on that topic, and synthesize those ideas into a single, informative, and exploratory text.  Such papers are therefore excellent learning tools; however, learning how to author research papers can be overwhelming to some students, since research papers require a significant time investment and utilize several academic skills.  Therefore, it may help learners to break the composition process down into several easily-manageable tasks.

First, the student needs to determine a topic on which to complete a research paper.  A good research paper topic is complex and intriguing, but is narrow enough that it can be explored in the span of a college report.

Once a topic has been determined, the student needs to complete a thesis, which is the main point or argument of a text.  Every research paper must have a thesis that clearly and assertively expresses the document's main idea.  An example of a thesis for a research paper is as follows: "Current research reveals that glacial melting is directly correlated to the worldwide consumption of fossil fuels."

Once a thesis has been determined, the student must head to the library for intensive research.  This research process will take several days and perhaps weeks, as it will require the student to browse through, assess, and read dozens of scholarly sources on his/her topic.  Throughout this research process, the student must take detailed notes.

When the research has been done, the student is ready to write.  A research paper is typically expected to be between 10 and 20 pages.  It is therefore not advisable to complete a research paper in a single day, or even in two days.  Sometimes, the best way to write research papers is to write several small (1-2 page) papers on each of the primary points the report will explore, and then to synthesize these small reports together.  This is a tactic that's particularly helpful for writers who have trouble structuring their documents, staying focused, or managing their time.  In this approach, the student should write one small report every day for five or more days, beginning with the introduction.  Once these are complete, the student can merge these small texts into one large document and begin editing.  It is likely that the learner will need to do extreme editing to eliminate repeated or excess information; however, it's always easier to pare down than it's to add.  The student will also need to add transition sentences between each of the short papers in order to make the report appear to be one cohesive text rather than several different texts pasted together.

Once a student has experience with research paper writing, he/she will develop his/her own ideas on the best way to write research papers.  This is an expected and important evolution in a student's writing development, as it marks a student's comfort with the form and ability to innovate within that form.

Write a Research Paper Properly

When you complete a research paper, your main objective is to present information to the reader about a particular topic.  Your goal isn't to present your opinion or to try to sway the reader in any way.  Rather, you're simply presenting information in a non-biased manner.

In order to properly complete a research paper, you'll need to do an extensive amount of research on the topic and you'll need to utilize several different sources.  When completing a research paper for a class, your teacher might specify how many difference sources you must use.  Similarly, the teacher might restrict the number of sources you can use from a specific category of sources.  For example, you might be expected to use at least three books and no more than two Internet sources.

When you select your sources for your research paper, you want to be certain that they're ones that provide the most accurate and up-to-date information possible.  Therefore, while books generally have great information, you might not want to use one that was published twenty years ago and has never been updated.

As you conduct your research, you'll need to write down the information that you find.  In order to help keep your research notes organized, you should use note cards on which you only write one piece of information.  That way, you can easily move the note cards around into different categories and place them in order for your document.  If you aren't a fan of the note card method, you should at least have one piece of paper for different categories of research and you should place all of the information pertaining to that category on the piece of paper it pertains to.

Once you have gathered all of your research information together, you can begin the writing process.  The first paragraph of your research paper is the introductory paragraph, which contains your thesis.  It is often a single sentence that summarizes what the entire paper will be about.  All of your research and the paragraphs to follow the introductory paragraph should be completed to support the thesis statement.

The number of paragraphs that follow your introductory paragraph depends upon how long your document needs to be.  In most cases, you'll have at least three paragraphs after the introductory paragraph that will serve as the body of your research paper.

Regardless of the number of paragraphs that follow your introductory paragraph, each one will have a topic sentence, which describes what the rest of that particular paragraph is about and it should be in support of your thesis.  All of the other sentences in that paragraph will then support the topic sentence, which also further helps to support your thesis.

Your final paragraph is your conclusion.  In the conclusion, you'll summarize the points you made throughout your research paper.  In addition, you'll restate the thesis, though you must be careful to write it in a way that's different from the introductory paragraph.

Write Research Paper Components

All students will have to write research papers in the course of their academic studies.  Research papers differ from other writing assignments that a student may be required to complete because—as their name suggests—they demand a significant reference component.  This means that the student can't simply sit down and compose the report, but that he/she must spend a considerable amount of time investigating scholarly resources on his/her assignment topic before beginning the writing process.

Research papers will differ in content and presentation depending on the subject and instructions of the professor; however, all research papers can be approached using the same process.  This process begins with research—typically research in a university library.  Often, to determine a specific topic on which to write requires the student to do some investigative work into his/her general area of interest.  For instance, psychology students wishing to write research papers on behaviorism would likely need to perform some light research in order to determine a more specific topic in the overall subject of behaviorism.  This would likely require brief perusals of reference books on behaviorism in general.  Through these perusals, a student can identify a sub-topic within behaviorism that's of particular interest, and then choose to write on that topic.

Once the specific topic of the report has been chosen, more detailed research ensues.  To write research papers at a level appropriate for college requires students to perform extensive investigation into the scholarly materials available on their topics.  This research should be limited to academic sources, which are also known as "peer-reviewed" or "referenced" sources.  Reference librarians can be extremely helpful in the discovery and assessment of such sources, and should be consulted during the research process.  While performing research, learners should keep detailed notes about each relevant source they examine.  Detailed notes allow students to efficiently write research paper outlines and, following, to write research paper drafts.

The research paper outline should be a organization plan.  The outline should begin with general information about the topic, and then progress to more specific sources and ideas.  Under each main point in the outline, the student should list and describe the sources that will be used when discussing that point.  This information should be readily available from the notes the student recorded when performing research.

After outlines are complete, students are ready to write research paper drafts.  The draft should stick closely to the outline, but fill out the information on the outline in a thorough way.  This process will be time-consuming, but shouldn't be difficult if the student has kept detailed records of his/her research.

After the draft is complete, the student should invest considerable time in revising.  This revision process should entail a close examination of the paper's readability, organization, grammar, spelling, and style.

Writing Research Papers for College

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 completing research papers and are therefore intimidated by the prospect; however, they will soon discover that completing a research paper is far more time-intensive than it's difficult.  In addition, they will find that completing research papers is quite different from writing essays in that the bulk of the work isn't 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.  Sources found on the internet can assist students in beginning their research, but unless those sources are peer-reviewed, they should probably not be cited.

Once the research has been completed, a student is ready for the writing process.  The most difficult aspect of the writing component of completing research papers is organization.  Therefore, the student should determine how he/she will present his/her research by constructing an outline.  This outline should follow a general-to-specific order.  Nearly all research papers 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 completing 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 his/her against any issues of plagiarism.

College Research Papers

During the course of their college studies, learners will be required to complete a college research paper on each one of many different topics.  Those same students who were filled with dread in high school at the thought of completing a research paper are probably going to have the same reaction when faced with the college research paper assignment.

College research papers don't differ greatly from high school research papers.  However, they're expected to be better researched and written better than what a high school student would write.  The papers that students wrote in high school should have helped prepare them to write satisfactory college research papers.  Any student who finds that he/she is unprepared to complete a college report should schedule an appointment with the college writing lab as soon as he/she receives the writing assignment.  College writing labs are designed to provide struggling students with the help they need to write solid college research papers.

Every college research paper begins with sound research.  Once the topic has been assigned, the student should immediately begin collecting credible research.  Credible research is almost never found on internet Web sites.  Because students might be tempted to use the internet to research their document, instructors might limit the number of internet references that students can use when completing their college research paper.

Although the internet shouldn't be used as the primary way to gather research paper references, there are some credible references to be had on the web and ways that the internet can be used to uncover sources.  Web sites that are sponsored by the government, universities, and other credible institutions or individuals can be used, within reason, for writing college research papers.  Again, the instructor will most likely limit the number and type of internet references that students can use.  The internet can also be used to find references such as books and journal articles.  Searching sources like Amazon, PubMed, and direct journal sources can help uncover reference material that the student can then request from the university library.  Some journal articles are published online and students can download the text directly from the internet for use as long as the reference is credible and adheres to the guidelines given to them by the instructor.

With a bit of hard work and planning, even the most paper-shy student can produce a well-written college research paper.  Working with the college writing lab, another student, a study group, and even the course instructor can help take the fear out of completing research papers.

Research Paper Guide

A research paper guide is an instructional document that helps a learner to construct his/her assignment.  Many students receive custom guides from their professors.  Other students may wish to turn to a professional writing center for a research paper guide.

In general, there are several things that should be included in all research paper guides.  First, the report guide should have a section that helps students understand the importance of the topic.  The topic may be assigned by a professor or students may be able to determine their own paper topics—as long as the topic falls under the subject of study.  The topic is the first step that the student takes when it comes to working on the report because it defines what he/she will research.

Once a student has the topic for the report, the report guide should help him/her to understand how to research areas within that topic.  Many research paper guides suggest that students go to the library or online periodicals for information relating to the topic.  As the student starts to uncover important information and form ideas, he/she may also wish to perform experiments or conduct interviews with industry experts for even more information.

After the student has completed his/her research, the guide should suggest that he/she draft an outline.  It should also explain that outlines show intended structure and help to ensure that students include an appropriate amount of content.

The research paper guide may then suggest that the students use the outline to form the first draft.  All students should be aware that the first draft shouldn't be the final draft; in order to create a well-written and effective project, students need to edit and revise a great deal.

Many students confuse a research paper guide with a research paper assistant.  A research paper guide is a physical/visual document.  An assistant is a human being with whom a student can interact to develop his/her assignment.  Therefore, while an assistant may guide students along with the composition process, the report guide is a document that students can use to help them accurately research and complete their work.

Research Paper Assistance

Research papers are lengthy and often difficult texts to compose, especially if a student is new to research paper composition.  Luckily, there are many avenues for research paper assistance that a student can use for help with the researching and writing process.

The type of assistance needed for research papers will likely be different from other types of writing help a student may have solicited.  This is because a research paper is based on research; therefore, both the method of approach and the style of writing are different from those required for other academic texts, such as essays.  There are three main components to research paper writing:

  1. performing the research;
  2. writing the assignment;
  3. formatting the report so that all the citation and reference information is correct.

There are different sources of research paper assistance for each of these components.

For performing the research, the best source for assistance with research papers is a reference librarian.  Reference librarians are individuals with higher degrees in library science.  Most university libraries will be staffed with one or more of these very helpful individuals.  Reference librarians will be able to point students towards sources of information they may not have known existed, and will also be able to help students navigate the library's databases and perform successful electronic searches.

Many students find themselves seeking assistance with research papers when they're in the writing phase.  This is because research paper writing requires the student to assimilate a large amount of information and present it in a logical way.  This is often a difficult task.  Therefore, one of the best sources of research paper assistance is a university writing center.  Writing centers are open to the student body of a university for all types of writing assistance.  A writing consultant will be able to help a research paper writer organize his/her assignment in a logical, orderly way that best suits the research paper's topic.

Because research papers rely on so much external information, it's necessary that a student spend significant time properly citing and documenting these external sources.  The way in which these sources will be cited and documented will vary according to a student's field and course.  A student can find valuable information on how to cite and document correctly by referencing the style manual the student's instructor recommends.  Popular style manuals include the MLA Handbook, the APA Publication Manual, and the Chicago Manual of Style.  In addition, learners can also find citation and documentation assistance in their university writing center.

Finally, perhaps the best source for assistance with research papers is a student's professor.  He/She will likely be able to point students in the right direction for research, provide pointers on the writing process, and help students with citation styles.

High School Research Papers

High on the list of teacher complaints is that students are entering high school without basic knowledge of how to write a high school research paper.  The writing assignments that should have prepared them for completing a high school research paper during their elementary and middle school years were either weak or failed to present students with valuable learning opportunities.  One of the reasons that students need to know how to write a high school research paper is because completing research papers is a skill students will need to know in order to perform well in college and in many professional careers.  Still, far too many learners have no idea how to write a high school research paper.

High school research papers don't have to be boring and frustrating writing assignments.  Students often have a variety of topics from which to choose, and writing high school research papers isn't as hard as many learners make them out to be.  Sometimes it helps for students to look at a high school research paper as an essay that requires a bit of data collection to write.

Just like any writing assignment, a high school research paper must have an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.  The introduction, no more than a paragraph for a one-page paper, should introduce the topic.  The introduction should conclude with a thesis statement, which is a one-sentence summary of the author's position.  For instance, if the student is completing a paper about farming, he/she might indicate that farming is the most important industry in the United States today.  Since the fact that farming is the most important industry in the United States today is the thesis statement of the high school research paper, the student must use the research paper body to present facts that support that statement.

The paper body, two to three paragraphs in a one-page paper, contains the arguments that support the research paper's thesis.  Students should use credible sources such as books and journal articles to support their argument.  Each argument should be correctly cited using the citation guidelines presented by the course instructor.

All high school research papers should have a well-written conclusion.  The conclusion should draw a line between the thesis statement and the arguments presented within the body.  The conclusion should clearly state how the research supports the thesis.  To ensure that a clear connection is made between the thesis statement and the arguments in the body, many learners restate their thesis in the conclusion.

Student Research Paper

A student research paper is an academic document that students in all grade levels have to complete as part of their normal academic curricula.  Student research papers require learners to spend a great deal of time researching a topic on their own and composing a document that provides information about that topic.

There are many reasons that professors assign student research papers as part of an academic course.  Some professors assign the reports so that students can have the opportunity to research a particular subject on their own.  Other professors assign research papers in order to ensure that students are actually able to research a particular topic in-depth using their critical thinking and research skills.

In order for a student research paper to be effective, students need to make sure that they're extremely thorough with their researching and writing.  There are some steps that all students can take in order to ensure that the report receives a high grade and is complete.

Students should first decide on a topic.  In many cases, a professor will assign a topic for a learner about which to write.  However, in many cases, students are able to decide on their own student research paper topics.  Students should choose a topic that interests them.

Next, students need to do as much research about the topic as possible.  During this research, students need to think carefully about any sub-topics that they may be able to address.  For example, if the broad topic is about pirates, students may be able to narrow down a sub-topic of the report to be something more specific, such as "Pirate wrecks around the British Virgin Islands."

Whenever students work on their student research papers, they need to be sure to keep detailed notes about the topics that they're researching.  These detailed notes will help them to create very specific and well-researched assignments when it comes time to start writing the reports.

After a student is finished with his/her research, he/she can draft the outline for the document.  This outline should be as complete as possible, helping the student to create the flow and content .  Students will use the structure and content of the outline to actually create the first drafts .

A student research paper is very different from a student essay, even though both are academic documents that require learners to think critically about a particular subject.  A student research paper requires students to do more research and to provide objective information in an informative style.  However, an essay often requires students to provide their own opinions as well as information about a topic.  Such compositions are usually shorter documents, as well.

Research Design

If a student is working on a research project that requires a large amount of research, he/she may need to develop a research design in order to ensure that he/she performs a suitable amount of data collection.  A research design can not only help learners to stay organized, but it can also ensure that the research is thorough.

When a student develops a research design, he/she should be familiar with different types of research that may influence his/her work.  For example, research that a student performs in a magazine or periodical is different from the research that a learner will perform by conducting an experiment.  Therefore, learners should understand various research methods in order to develop an effective research design.

Many research designs are developed by a student, reviewed by a professor, and then revised before a student begins his/her research.  Often, professors can provide essential feedback on a research design that will help learners to be more effective in their efforts.  For example, a student in a psychology course may have a certain research plan in place that he/she thinks will give him/her information about a topic.  However, the professor may suggest a particular experiment that may provide more enlightenment.

One of the most important things that students need to keep in mind when developing their research designs is that the designs are a plan for conducting the research.  However, as the research progresses, students may wish to revise those research plans in order to take the data in a different direction.  After all, research is about uncovering answers.  As answers are uncovered, new questions may present themselves.

It may be helpful for students to write their research designs on a chart or piece of paper.  The research design shouldn't only include information about research methods that the student plans to use, but it should also include information about the timeline that a student needs to follow in order to complete the research on time.  Therefore, research designs not only help learners to be thorough in their research, but they also help learners to stay on track.

A research design is very similar to a research plan.  However, it can also be easily confused with research resources.  Research designs may use particular resources in order to complete the research.  However, resources aren't necessarily wholly a research design.  Therefore, learners should regard the two as uniquely important aspects of research and research planning.

Research Paper Tips

Students are often stymied by the task of completing a research paper.  Many students consider writing a difficult and somewhat boring task.  Because of their misdirected attitudes about writing, students find it difficult to produce a good research paper.  Yet, there are several research paper tips that can help even the most discouraged student navigate the maze.

First, learners should be sure that they fully understand the requirements.  Most instructors would rather a student ask questions before turning in a document that fails to reflect the requirements than wait until the report has been completed and it's too late to make changes.  Instructors will generally provide guidance on how many pages or words the document should be, the style required, the general topic, and the number of required references.  Students can take advantage of all the research paper tips in the world, but if they don't pay attention to the basics, the paper is likely to receive a poor grade.

Another research paper tip is to completely understand style formatting.  Students often make the mistake of turning in a document that fails to adhere to the instructor's stated formatting requirements.  If an instructor specifically requires APA formatting and a student uses footnotes, the instructor may understandably give that student a poor grade.  Any student who doesn't understand the difference between APA, MLA, Harvard, Chicago, or Turabian style formatting, should either consult the instructor, visit the college or university writing center, or pick up a style guide at the library or university bookstore.  Style formatting is an important component of research paper writing and isn't to be taken lightly.

A final document tip surrounds the use of proofreading.  Students should always proofread their documents before turning them in.  Many students rely far too heavily on word processing software to catch any errors in their document.  But, word processing programs don't always catch every error and might assume errors where none exist.  For instance, a word processing program might not catch the misuse of the words "to" and "too."  Such programs might also not point out errors in punctuation, grammar, and syntax.  For these reasons, it's important for students to critically review their own documents for errors.  It is also a good idea to ask a friend or fellow classmate to read through the report, as well.  Sometimes a fresh pair of eyes can catch mistakes that were previously missed.

Research Paper Assignments

Research paper assignments are very typical in all grade levels and for all courses that a student may take in school.  The main goal of a research paper assignment is to help students research a particular subject in-depth and then communicate their findings in writing.  There are many different parts of a project that will help learners to communicate those findings clearly.

When it comes to formulating a research paper, learners should always be aware of the many parts of a research paper they need to include.  Some professors will specify.  However, if a professor doesn't provide specifics, then it may be up to the students to determine which parts of research papers they should integrate into their assignments.

Basically, the parts of research papers that should always be included are the cover page, introduction, body, and conclusion.  Depending on the type of research paper, some students may also need to include an abstract, appendix, acknowledgements, and a reference section.

The cover page of the document should be formatted according to the style guide that a professor has assigned, which may be MLA or APA style.  This is the part of a project that the professor will see first, so it should be neat and tidy and in accordance with normal style guidelines.

The next parts of a project that are important are the introductory paragraph and the thesis statement, which is a one-sentence position/argument that gives a preview of what the report will state.  This statement should appear in the first or last sentence of the introduction.  The introduction should usually be just one paragraph.  It may be longer for longer paper.

The body includes the parts of research papers that provide new information.  Each paragraph should share new information that should support the thesis.  This information will be tied together in the conclusion, which is the last paragraph or two paragraphs.

School Research Papers

A school research paper is an in-depth academic text that incorporates significant material from secondary sources in order to develop its point.  School research papers are assigned at all phases of academic study.  Students are therefore encouraged to become facile with this form and style of writing as early as possible in order to assure success in their academic pursuits.  Luckily, school research papers are more time-consuming than difficult, and students can invest in their success by learning just a few research paper skills.

School research papers report on topics in a sophisticated and academic way, using only scholarly and authoritative sources.  Students who are new to writing school research papers will quickly learn that the quality and type of sources used in a school research paper is a distinguishing characteristic of such a report.  Students are often accustomed to relying on the internet to uncover information about various topics.  For instance, if a student is interested in finding information about his/her favorite professional athlete or musician, or even a concept that has been discussed in school, he/she will often do a series of internet searches to uncover the ideas of various individuals and groups on his/her subject of interest.  The research required for a school research paper follows this same process of using multiple searches and looking at multiple sources; however, the primary and very important difference is that the research for a school research paper can only use scholarly and authoritative sources.  This type of research typically doesn't happen on the internet, but in a library.

The research process of completing a school research paper is the most difficult aspect of writing such a report.  A student must first find scholarly and authoritative sources using the resources available at his/her school library, then browse those sources to determine which are relevant to his/her project, then carefully read the sources that are relevant to his/her project, take notes regarding the important points of each of those sources, and finally make an outline that synthesizes all of the relevant research into an organized and orderly form.  This process is time-consuming, and therefore requires a significant investment.  However, once a student has found sources, the rest of the composition process is quite simple.

Once the research is complete, the student should use the outline he/she composed and add to that outline to determine a more detailed structure .  The outline should present information in a general-to-specific order, in which the beginning focuses on background and contextualizing information to inform the reader about the topic, and then progresses to more detailed and complex arguments and ideas.

Once this outline has been completed, the student can sequentially write the assignment following the information included in the outline, interspersing information from secondary sources throughout the course of the text.

Ivy Research Papers

An ivy research paper is an academic document that a student must write as a course requirement in an Ivy League school.  Because there are high expectations for Ivy League students, ivy research papers will likely be held to a higher standard than research papers completed for less-renowned institutions.  The primary difference between an ivy research paper and a regular research paper is likely not in the length, but rather in its depth; an ivy report should reflect an advanced-level student who has performed advanced-level work.

Because research papers are by nature syntheses of existing scholarly research, one of the most important aspects is the quality of research that the student includes.  For ivy research papers, the student is expected to have research skills that enable his/her to be discriminating in the sources he/she uses.  This means that the student must only use credible scholarly sources that have been peer-reviewed.  Typically, such sources aren't found on the internet, but through a university library database.  Furthermore, students must be conscious of when their sources were published.  In some disciplines, it's always preferable to use sources that are no more than ten years old.  In other disciplines, older sources are fine; however, a student should always think twice before including a source that was published several decades ago unless he/she is using that source to historicize or contextualize his/her topic.

In addition to using quality sources, a student must be able to present such sources in a way that creates an interesting discussion rather than a dull report.  The best way to do this is to ensure that in any given paragraph, section, or page of text, there's more of the student's commentary and analysis than commentary and analysis from the sources.  In other words, every time a source is quoted or paraphrased, the student should comment on that source to explain, analyze, argue with, or engage the information presented.  This will result in a document that both informs the reader about what others have said about the particular research paper topic and also presents the student's own opinions and analyses regarding the topic.  Every ivy report should strive for such a balance.

Finally, ivy research papers should be gracefully composed and correctly documented.  The standard of writing in Ivy League education is often held very high; therefore, learners should write multiple drafts of their documents, enlist the assistance of peers or writing centers as outside readers who can give feedback, and proof carefully to check for grammar and style errors.

Senior Research Papers

A senior research paper is a common academic writing requirement for seniors in high school.  It requires learners to commit a great deal of time to studying one particular subject and completing a project based on those studies.  Therefore, senior research papers are often the largest projects that students have to work on before they go to college.

Many students are given the opportunity to select their own preferred topics for their senior research papers.  When a student can select his/her own topic, he/she usually is able to study a topic that interests him/her in depth, which might also help the student to determine what he/she will major in while in college.  Therefore, many learners get a huge benefit from the opportunity to research and write senior research papers.

Students will be paired with advisers in order to ensure that the students stay on track with their senior research papers.  The students will check in with their advisers to tell them about their progress during the writing and research for the document.  Advisers may also provide direction for student who need help finding a topic or purpose for the document.

When students go about writing the senior research paper, they should begin with an outline.  It will help the students to organize a large amount of information that they have been studying throughout a year or semester.  Students can also change the outline more easily than they can change a paper once the writing as begun.

The first section of a senior report should explain the reason for the research and give background information about the topic of the research.  The introductory paragraph should also contain a thesis statement, which is a one-sentence assertion that basically provides a reason for the work.  Every paragraph of the report will prove the thesis to be correct.

The body of the document will contain many paragraphs.  Each paragraph should contain unique information or ideas that support the thesis.  These paragraphs and ideas will be tied together in the conclusion.  The conclusion of the senior research paper falls in the last paragraph and literally provides the student's conclusion to the ideas that he/she expressed.

A senior research paper is different from a dissertation, though some students can be confused by the two.  Both academic documents help learners to share information about topics that they have spent a long time studying.  However, a university dissertation is an academic work that usually segues into a career for a student who is pursuing a Ph.D.  degree.  Many dissertations take years to create.  A senior research paper can be equally important to a student, but it generally doesn't dictate a career and usually takes less than a semester to complete.

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