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College Research Paper Writing Tips for Students
A college research paper is one of the many compulsory assignments every student will have to undertake. It's a demanding type of task that requires time and great effort. In our article, we will define the meaning of a research paper, explore its structure, and follow the process of creating one.
Let's start by answering the first question: what is a research paper? It's a rather detailed and elaborate piece of writing that explores a topic from a research-oriented viewpoint. To put it differently, there is a heavy emphasis on fact-finding, which is the definitive characteristic. Suffice it to mention that their requirements and approaches vary depending on academic discipline.
The underlying reasons why college students have to tackle such an assignment are as follows:
- To develop and polish their research and writing skills at a higher level of academia.
- To build their ability to dissect complex issues and present them in a lucid manner.
By presenting research findings clearly, you can enable the reader to grasp any given subject matter much better. Research paper assignments are required for main courses connected with the major tightly. That way, it helps to ensure the education you get yields transferable skills that can be applied in practice.
When given such a task, students could be given a particular topic to work with. But, a premade list of research paper topics for selection could also be distributed. In a more liberal situation, the course instructor may allow them to come up with a subject matter of their choice. If you are given the option to come up with a topic, we suggest you consider such factors as:
- Personal interest and aptitude for a subject area
- Availability of research materials and equipment
- The time given to you for research
For a research paper to fulfill the requirements and fit your topic, prior to writing, you should consult with your college professor. That is a crucial thing to do if you want to ensure that you're on the right track. It saves a lot of time and prevents you from making major changes when it becomes clear that the necessary requirements are not met.
Exploring the Structure
Before we examine the process of drafting, we will take a better look at a typical structure of a college research paper. As was earlier mentioned, the initial instructions may vary based on the discipline. That might result in some discrepancies (structure-wise). For instance, natural sciences will frequently require the inclusion of an abstract, literature review, empirical method and design, the result analysis, and conclusions. To dispel any doubts, you should always ask your instructor when feeling uncertain.
- The body of the paper
The introduction is an opening section that gives compressed information regarding the paper's topic. There's an important element of this section that mustn't be omitted - a thesis statement. It is a central idea or a research question you'll aim to prove or disprove through the research. The introduction of your research paper is what will help the reader get an overview of the work even before reading the whole thing.
The body is the core section of your paper where everything about the topic is explored, analyzed, and laid out. All your main points should be organized into separate paragraphs. Should it be required to appear within the body of the text, in-text citation should be applied wherever unoriginal ideas are used or mentioned. You should try to make your work as clear as possible. Also, in supporting your thesis, ensure to use the facts and data only from reputable sources to lend credence to the paper.
The conclusion is the closing section where all your major points are to be summed and the thesis statement reiterated. It's helpful to mention how the work you've done fulfills the intended purpose of the paper. Be ready to admit there are lapses with your approach and identify them. Provide as many ideas as you can on how those faults could be improved and advance to eliminate them one at a time.
The Process of Creating a Research Paper
Now, we'll focus on the main idea of this article: how to write a college research paper. Although loosely used, writing is strictly not all there is for a research paper. That is why we use a different construct - the process of creating it. As can be observed from the list below, writing is just one of the four steps involved.
As the popular saying goes, "When you fail to plan, you plan to fail." It couldn't be more apt here. As this is the starting stage, you should have a pretty good idea of what is expected from you and deal with it accordingly. You should think about how you'll undertake all other steps starting with research and ending with proofreading and editing your finished work. Is it necessary for you to get help with getting some research materials? Should you need to take a trip to someplace in order to get much-needed input for your work? Should you have to seek help with writing or editing of your paper due to lack of time or any other circumstances beyond your control? These are the questions you should be asking yourself when handling the planning phase.
This is arguably the most daunting and vital step. Much of the work that has to be done to produce compelling and engaging content will be done here. You should know what the scope of your topic is and keep your research focused on it. As you gather relevant materials, try keeping a list of references that will help you to keep up with various sources. Write down relevant pieces of information and organize your notes in an orderly manner. With the help of an outline containing the points to be developed in a sequential way, you can arrange your content much more effectively. Putting it simply, your outline should be the "skeleton" or "building block" of your paper.
This will usually not happen at once. Normally, writing will be done in drafts as the work develops until it's eventually completed. But that's still not the final paper since there is still revision to be done. Writing at college level comes with exacting standards around the use of proper vocabulary and grammar, accurate spelling, delivery of complex ideas, and adherence to required citation styles. Hence, great care should be taken to ensure the expected standards are met in your paper.
No matter how tempting the thought of finishing the paper might be, there is bound to be errors of different kinds. When revising, you should proofread your writing and make the necessary changes. It would not be out of the ordinary to spot spelling mistakes, capitalization errors, and the absence or wrong use of punctuation marks.
Wouldn't it be safe to say that you have learned quite a lot about the topic by now? But the journey doesn't end here, and you should be prepared to proceed at an unrelenting pace toward your ultimate goal. Now that you found out what's involved, you can take the next step by working on your assignment.
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