How To Write A Great Research Paper

how to write a research paper
Written by T.E. Wing

Daunted by a new research paper assignment? We get it. Here’s how to write a research paper that really sings. By T.E. Wing

Research papers aren’t easy to write. If you’re new to the challenge, it might even feel like a near-impossible venture.

If you’re struggling with making your research papers sing, never fear. Here’s how to write a great research paper — or at the very least, a really good one.

A Strong Thesis

Like any piece of writing, a research paper needs a reason for being. That is, it needs to make a point. That point is the thesis. Not only should you reveal it right away, but you should make sure that all the research you mention afterward supports it or explains it.

Before you begin writing — indeed, before you do a lick of research — you need to think through your thesis.

That doesn’t mean that you should hang on to it at all cost. Sometimes, you will find that, in the face of facts, your thesis just doesn’t stand. If that happens, don’t hesitate to throw it out and come up with a better one.

Research Like Crazy

The quality and depth of research you turn out is the key to a great research paper. You do that research, of course, long before you start writing. Collect as much research as you can read way beyond abstracts and summaries.

Another thing: Research more than you think you’ll need. Take notes, record page numbers and list all your sources. Keep a working bibliography so you don’t lose any research as you’re doing it.

And do find evidence that disproves other possibilities. You want research that helps you fend off anticipated objections and strengthens your thesis. Don’t skimp here. It’s a lot easier to have more facts than you need than to have to start researching again while you’re in the middle of the writing process.

If you find yourself struggling in this area, don’t despair. There are lots of editors that can help you. Many students even opt to hire a writing service to help them create a top-notch paper. Ultius research papers are great for students looking for quality work from talented writers and editors and around-the-clock support.

Structure is critical

Look: Great writing is well organized. A great structure will make your paper a pleasure to read — and one that’s easy to follow, no matter how difficult the topic. If your paper is impossible to follow or understand, it won’t matter how good the thesis is or how much research you’re citing.

A great structure is logical. Of course, it will start with your thesis, but it should flow naturally from there. For inspiration, study some of your favorite papers in the academic literature. You might even outline them to see why their structures work so well.

And don’t forget to take the time to outline your paper before you write. The key thing is to structure it properly before you write word one.

Not only will it make the whole process easier, but you’ll end up with thoughtful, higher quality paper.

Writing is rewriting. Really.

You’ve heard this before, but we’ll tell you again. Great writing is rewriting. The key to great writing is revision — sometimes many revisions.

That’s why professional writers in all fields first write a messy first draft just to get everything on paper. Once that draft is finished, it’s time to put on your editorial hat and polish it up.

How to begin? Easy. Just sit down and read your paper carefully from start to finish. Many writers swear by reading the first draft out loud. No matter how you tackle it, what you’re looking for are structural mistakes, repetition, weak evidence and passive voice problems, just for starters. When you’re done, try to get a friend or someone at your school’s writing center to also give your first draft an honest read. They might find errors you totally missed, just because you’re so close to it.

Check those facts

You have to carefully proofread your research paper after you complete it. That, too, is tough when you’re so close to a document. If you don’t have a copy editor or proofreader around to help you, consider changing the typeface on the paper. Experts say that will help you see errors you might otherwise miss.

It’s tempting, we know, to skimp on the proofreading when you’ve already outlined, researched, written, editing and fact-checked. Typos, punctuation and grammatical errors make an otherwise high-quality paper look haphazard.

So don’t just skim. And definitely, don’t just rely on spell-checkers. Attention to detail is critical if you want to create a paper that reads smoothly. Typos and other errors distract from your research. And because they stop a reader, they break the flow that a great research paper needs.

For aNewDomain, I’m T.E. Wing.

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