In college, you may encounter different kinds of research papers. But regardless if it is not that long or very, very long, most research papers follow very similar patterns.
If you expect to tackle one this semester, keep reading to learn the needed steps for your research.
- Selecting a topic
The topic you choose will greatly affect your resulting grade. If your topic is very difficult or boring for you, the paper will give you a lot of sleepless nights. But if you enjoy your topic, it will not be that hard for you to keep reading and writing.
- Read a lot
Before you finalize your topic, you will need to consult a lot of resources. First, it will give you a clearer perspective of what you would like to do. Second, your initial readings will give you an idea already of whether your potential topic has enough sources. If there aren’t any, you will have to choose something else.
- Get resources and take notes
Once your topic is finalized, it is time to get your resources and take notes. Check the library and online to get what you need. Teachers often require around 3 to 5 sources per argument, so keep looking until you find the said amounts.
Note-taking will lessen the need to reread everything over and over again. Some students prefer index cards, while others save their notes on their computers. Choose what is best for you.
- Make your thesis statement
This is an important step as your paper will revolve around this. Your statement should aim to prove or disprove something. Make sure it is not too broad, or you will not be able to complete your research.
- Create an outline
An outline will make the writing process a lot easier. You list down the important details you want to include, so you do not forget, and then follow the outline as you write. Fewer mistakes will be made if you do this.
Some key details for your outline are the “hook” for the introduction, the main arguments and counterarguments, and your “call to action.”
- Know your style guide
Research papers always follow a particular style guide like MLA or APA. Make sure you know this before you start writing so that you can already cite your sources properly. If not, you will have to go back again to do it.
Writing your paper will take much time. To ensure you finish it before the deadline, you will need to manage your time by assigning particular days and times just for your paper. Don’t forget to follow your outline so that you do not lose your way.
- Proofread your paper
Before submission, ensure you spend time proofreading your work. If you will do it yourself, it helps to use a grammar-checking app. You should also take a break from your work before proofreading so your mind is fresh and clear.
But if you are unsure about your grammar skills, you can hire a proofreader to help you.
So those were the steps for a research paper. If you will be dealing with one soon, take note of the steps so you won’t waste too much time.