An important requirement today in high school, college, or higher education is a research paper. Although daunting for a beginner, once mastered, such papers teach you a lot about the topic you are investigating and the methods of research.
The following are 5 helpful tips for first-timers to consider.
#1 Carefully select your topic
For most students, half the battle is won once you’ve chosen the right topic to research. Make sure you pick something you are truly interested in; otherwise, you won’t enjoy the research process as you need to read many things.
Narrow it down to something you can easily handle. Something like “The Difference in Math Techniques in Schools in the 20th Century and the 21st Century” is much too wide a scope, but a topic like “A Study of Math Problem-Solving Techniques of 5th Graders in Public Elementary Schools in Orange County in the 1990s and the 2010s” might be easier to handle.
#2 Consider your position
Once you’ve selected your topic, the next thing to consider is your position, which is also known as your thesis statement. This is what your paper aims to prove. Knowing this guides you toward what to read to support your point.
Returning to the math example above, a sample thesis statement could be like this: “Even though math concepts are generally the same over time, 5th-grade math problem-solving techniques have probably evolved to keep up with the changing times.”
#3 Do the research
You’ll need a lot of credible sources to write a good paper. Some are needed to define important terms, while the others will be similar researches done that help refine your study. Do take this seriously as teachers consider this a necessary part of the paper.
#4 Organize it all and write
Because of all the data involved, you’ll need to organize your notes first. This means separating researches and theories that go against your idea and those that support what you have in mind.
Then you write. Since research papers have a general format, you can find an example and follow what is done there.
#5 Listen. Revise. Proofread. Submit.
Teachers often expect you to submit your paper in stages. You’ll be asked for a first draft, a second draft, and then the final one. In high school, this pattern is often strictly followed as the teacher wants you to learn “how” to make such papers in preparation for college. In college, it will depend on the class and professor. Sometimes it might just be a first draft, followed by the final paper.
Regardless, stay humble and listen to what needs to be fixed. If more studies are needed, research some more and include them in your expanding paper.
But before final submission, take care to proofread it carefully, following the necessary guidelines (APA or MLA)
A research paper is not something to sneeze at. It requires a lot of patience, study, and effort. But it’s not as difficult as many people claim it to be. Consider the abovementioned tips so you can have a paper you can be proud of.