Do you experience problems when writing research papers? If so, you are not alone – it is one of the most troublesome types of academic work, and hundreds of students look for assistance with it every day. Do not worry – there is nothing unique about your case. What is even more important, there are ways to deal with your difficulties. If you want to do it on your own, the first thing you have to do is to learn the rules that determine the success of a research paper. Follow them, and you will significantly improve your chances of writing a paper that will impress your professors and earn you a good grade. In this article, we will cover some of the most important such rules.
Do not Expect to Be Done with It in a Single Draft
The draft you start writing when you first set about to work on your research paper should not be your last. If you want to write a good assignment, you have to get it through at least two, and preferably three iterations. The first draft is needed to put your thoughts onto paper, to formulate your main ideas and determine the general structure of the paper. At this stage, do not pay too much attention to how you express your thoughts and connect your ideas – your purpose is to give your preliminary thoughts a more specific expression.
When you write the second draft, feel free to rearrange parts of the paper to better fit each other, work on your evidence, quotations and other data. Check how individual parts of the paper are connected to each other. Look for ways to improve the overall flow of your text.
In the third draft, you add final touches and extra polish to your writing.
Write an Outline
An outline is a detailed plan of your future research paper. Here you specify what segments you will divide it into, what you will write in each of them, what sources you will refer to and where, what your thesis statement is and so on. If you manage to write a good and exhaustive outline, you will not have to worry about forgetting to mention something or repeating yourself. When the time comes to write, you will have to simply follow your outline and flesh it out.
Gather and Study Your Sources in Advance
Before you begin the process of writing per se, you have to know what sources of information you have at your disposal. This will determine what direction your research is going to proceed in, what points you will cover and how you are going to support them. Depending on what you can find about the subject matter, you may even have to adjust the topic of your research paper – after all, no research exists in isolation, and if you cannot find enough context for a certain topic, you will have to move on to something else.
Evaluate Your Sources before You Use Them
Sources of information differ by a number of factors, and before you refer to any of them in your research paper, you have to make sure they are worth mentioning in a serious academic assignment. The most common way to determine the value of a source is CRAAP test, according to which you check the source for:
- Currency (how timely is the information, when was it published, was it revised since then?);
- Relevance (how does the information in the source relate to the topic of your paper?);
- Authority (does the author and publisher have sufficient credentials to talk about the topic, are they authoritative enough?);
- Accuracy (is the information true? Is there evidence that supports it?)
- Purpose (what is the purpose of the source? Does the author or the publisher have an agenda? Do they make their intentions clear?).
Be on the Lookout for Superfluous Elements
The style requirements for research papers are very clear – your main purpose is to get your point across. You have to make your writing as clear, understandable and concise as possible. One of the primary ways of achieving it is removing everything superfluous from your text and leaving only the elements that are necessary to make yourself clear. Therefore, when you write and later, when you edit and proofread, constantly ask yourself, “Do I really need this word/sentence/paragraph/quotation? Does it support my argument? Can I do without it? Can I replace it with something more effective?” As a result, you will leave only the most powerful and persuasive elements while removing everything that adds to word count without pulling its weight.
Separate Writing, Editing, and Proofreading
As you write, you will often be tempted to return to an earlier part of your research paper to correct a mistake, rephrase a passage or add/remove something. Do not act on it. Make a note that you have to make such and such alteration so that you do not forget about it and write on. Every time you switch to another task, the flow of your writing suffers and you have to accumulate momentum all over again. Do editing and proofreading as two separate stages and do not mix them up. It will allow you to focus all your attention on the current task and, in the long run, achieve better results.
Even a well-written paper is likely to raise questions and attract critique, and you have to be ready for it. Other people always see an assignment differently from its author, so look for trustworthy individuals you can ask for feedback, and check their opinions. Can they point out ways to improve your writing? Do they see gaps in your logic? Do they ask questions you do not know how to answer?
If even after learning these rules you continue to run into trouble with your work, there is always another alternative – you can pay for research paper writing and hire a dedicated specialist to help you out. There are plenty of services that offer this kind of assistance – you just have to find one you will be able to trust.