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How to Write a Research Paper

Research Paper Examples and Samples

❶Your paper should be written in the third person.

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Research-Based Writing
The Five Commandments of Writing Research Papers
Teaching Yourself

Bring all your skills to bear on the topic. Use works in foreign languages. Use software packages to analyze statistical data. Or say you want to write about how conceptions of national identity have changed in Britain since the s.

In this case, you might examine the speeches of British political leaders, editorials in major British newspapers, and voting support for the Scottish National Party or other regional parties. You might also arrange an interview with an expert in the field: There are, however, gradations of primary evidence. The best sources are those in original languages that are linked to persons directly involved in the event or development that you are researching.

Next are the same sources translated into other languages. Then come sources that are studies of or otherwise refer to direct experience. In your research, you should endeavor to get as close as possible to the events or phenomena you are studying. But, of course, no one can speak every language and interview every participant in a political or social event.

Part of being a creative scholar is figuring out how to assemble enough evidence using the skills and resources that you possess in order to make a clear and sustainable argument based on powerful and credible sources. One other note for Georgetown students: Thou shalt make an argument. Unfortunately, many undergraduate research papers are really no more than glorified book reports. You know the drill: Check out ten books in English from the library, skim through three of them, note down a few facts or mark some pages, combine the information in your own words, and there you have it.

This will not do. There are no once-and-for-all answers in any scholarly field, but there are better and worse arguments. The better ones have powerful evidence based on reliable sources, are ordered and logical in the presentation of evidence, and reach a clear and focused conclusion that answers the question posed at the beginning of the paper. In addition, good arguments also consider competing claims: What other counter-arguments have been put forward or could be put forward to counter your points?

How would you respond to them? Plagiarism is definitely out of the question. Document all ideas borrowed or quotes used very accurately. As you organize your notes, jot down detailed bibliographical information for each cited paragraph and have it ready to transfer to your Works Cited page.

Devise your own method to organize your notes. One method may be to mark with a different color ink or use a hi-liter to identify sections in your outline, e. Group your notes following the outline codes you have assigned to your notes, e. This method will enable you to quickly put all your resources in the right place as you organize your notes according to your outline. Start with the first topic in your outline.

Read all the relevant notes you have gathered that have been marked, e. Summarize, paraphrase or quote directly for each idea you plan to use in your essay. Use a technique that suits you, e. Mark each card or sheet of paper clearly with your outline code or reference, e. Put all your note cards or paper in the order of your outline, e.

If using a word processor, create meaningful filenames that match your outline codes for easy cut and paste as you type up your final paper, e. Before you know it, you have a well organized term paper completed exactly as outlined. The unusual symbol will make it easy for you to find the exact location again. Delete the symbol once editing is completed. Read your paper for any content errors. Double check the facts and figures. Arrange and rearrange ideas to follow your outline. Reorganize your outline if necessary, but always keep the purpose of your paper and your readers in mind.

Use a free grammar and proof reading checker such as Grammarly. Is my thesis statement concise and clear? Did I follow my outline? Did I miss anything? Are my arguments presented in a logical sequence? Are all sources properly cited to ensure that I am not plagiarizing? Have I proved my thesis with strong supporting arguments? Have I made my intentions and points clear in the essay? Re-read your paper for grammatical errors. Use a dictionary or a thesaurus as needed.

Do a spell check. Correct all errors that you can spot and improve the overall quality of the paper to the best of your ability. Get someone else to read it over. Sometimes a second pair of eyes can see mistakes that you missed.

Did I begin each paragraph with a proper topic sentence? Have I supported my arguments with documented proof or examples? Any run-on or unfinished sentences? Any unnecessary or repetitious words?

Varying lengths of sentences? Does one paragraph or idea flow smoothly into the next? Any spelling or grammatical errors? Quotes accurate in source, spelling, and punctuation? Are all my citations accurate and in correct format? Did I avoid using contractions? Did I use third person as much as possible? Have I made my points clear and interesting but remained objective?

Did I leave a sense of completion for my reader s at the end of the paper? For an excellent source on English composition, check out this classic book by William Strunk, Jr. Place yourself in the background, Revise and rewrite, Avoid fancy words, Be clear, Do not inject opinion, Do not take shortcuts at the cost of clarity, … and much more. A research paper on literary criticism, for instance, is less likely to need a call for action than a paper on the effect that television has on toddlers and young children.

A paper that is more likely to call readers to action is one that addresses a public or scientific need. Let's go back to our example on tuberculosis. This is a very serious disease that is spreading quickly and with antibiotic resistant forms.

A call to action in this research paper would be a follow-up statement that might be along the lines of "Despite new efforts to diagnose and contain the disease, more research is needed to develop new antibiotics that will treat the most resistant strains of tuberculosis and ease the side effects of current treatments.

The conclusion of a paper is your opportunity to explain the broader context of the issue you have been discussing. It is also a place to help readers understand why the topic of your paper truly matters. For example, if you are writing a history paper, then you might discuss how the historical topic you discussed matters today. If you are writing about a foreign country, then you might use the conclusion to discuss how the information you shared may help readers understand their own country.

Part 1 Quiz How should you summarize the main points of the paper in your conclusion? Reread the topic sentence of each paragraph or section. Briefly restate each point. Do not include your supporting arguments. Avoid introducing new information.

All of the above. Stick with a basic synthesis of information. Since this sort of conclusion is so basic, it is vital that you aim to synthesize the information rather than merely summarizing it. Instead of merely repeating things you already said, rephrase your thesis and supporting points in a way that ties them all together. By doing so, you make your research paper seem like a "complete thought" rather than a collection of random and vaguely related ideas.

Bring things full circle. There are several ways to do this. Ask a question in your introduction. In your conclusion, restate the question and provide a direct answer.

Write an anecdote or story in your introduction but do not share the ending. Instead, write the conclusion to the anecdote in the conclusion of your paper.

For example, if you wanted to get more creative and put a more humanistic spin on a paper on tuberculosis you might start your introduction with a story about a person with the disease, and refer to that story in your conclusion. For example, you could say something like this before you re-state your thesis in your conclusion: The images may or may not appear at other points throughout the research paper.

If your research paper presented multiple sides of an issue, use your conclusion to state a logical opinion formed by your evidence. Include enough information about your topic to back the statement up but do not get too carried away with excess detail. If your research did not provide you with a clear-cut answer to a question posed in your thesis, do not be afraid to indicate as much. Restate your initial hypothesis and indicate whether you still believe it or if the research you performed has begun swaying your opinion.

Indicate that an answer may still exist and that further research could shed more light on the topic at hand. Instead of handing the reader the conclusion, you are asking the reader to form his or her own conclusion.

This may not be appropriate for all types of research papers. Most research papers, such as one on effective treatment for diseases, will have the information to make the case for a particular argument already in the paper. A good example of a paper that might ask a question of the reader in the ending is one about a social issue, such as poverty or government policy.

Ask a question that will directly get at the heart or purpose of the paper. This question is often the same question, or some version of it, that you may have started out with when you began your research. Make sure that the question can be answered by the evidence presented in your paper. If desired, you can briefly summarize the answer after stating the question. You could also leave the question hanging for the reader to answer, though.

If you are including a call to action in your conclusion, you could provide your reader with a recommendation on how to proceed with further research. Even without a call to action, you can still make a recommendation to your reader. For instance, if you are writing about a topic like third-world poverty, you can various ways for the reader to assist in the problem without necessarily calling for more research.

Another example would be, in a paper about treatment for drug resistant tuberculosis, you could suggest making a donation to the World Health Organization or research foundations which are developing new treatments for the disease. Part 2 Quiz True or False: Avoid saying "in conclusion" or similar sayings. This includes "in summary" or "in closing. Moreover, using a phrase like "in conclusion" to begin your conclusion is a little too straight-forward and tends to lead to a weak conclusion.

A strong conclusion can stand on its own without being labelled as such. Do not wait until the conclusion to state your thesis. While it may be tempting to save your thesis in order to create a dramatic end to your paper, doing so will create a paper that seems less cohesive and more unorganized.

Always state the main argument or thesis in the introduction. A research paper is an analytical discussion of an academic topic, not a mystery novel. A good, effective research paper will allow your reader to follow your main argument from start to finish. This is why it is best practice to start your paper with an introduction that states your main argument, and to end the paper with a conclusion that re-states your thesis for re-iteration.

Leave out new information. All significant information should be introduced in the body of the paper. Supporting evidence expands the topic of your paper by making it appear more detailed. A conclusion should narrow the topic to a more general point. A conclusion should only summarize what you have already stated in the body of your paper. You may make a suggestion for further research or a call to action, but you should not bring in any new evidence or facts in the conclusion.

Avoid changing the tone of the paper. The tone of your research paper should be consistent the entire way through. Most often, a shift in tone occurs when a research paper with an academic tone is give an emotional or sentimental conclusion.

Even if the topic of the paper is of personal significance for you, you should not indicate as much in your paper. If you want to give your paper a more humanistic slant, you could start and end your paper with a story or anecdote that would give your topic more personal meaning to the reader.

This tone should be consistent throughout the paper, however. Do not make statements that downplay your authority or discoveries. Apologetic statements include phrases like "I may not be an expert" or "This is only my opinion. Avoid any statements in the first-person.


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Each journal specializes in a specific area of research. Hence its readership varies. A proper choice of journal can make a larger impact of your research. Get to know the focus and readership of the journal that you are considering. - general vs. specialized area journal Select 2 or 3 journals in the chosen area with relatively high impact factors.

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Research paper is quite a challenging task to complete but following a clear and proper structure will help you avoid all possible mistakes and will teach you how to gather and analyze information in a simple and fast way.

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The Five Commandments of Writing Research Papers To write first-rate research papers, follow the following simple rules—well, simple to repeat, but too often ignored by most undergraduates. 1. Thou shalt do some background reading, think hard, and speak with the professor in order to identify a topic. As with writing a regular academic paper, research proposals are generally organized the same way throughout most social science disciplines. Proposals vary between ten and twenty-five pages in length.

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Research tips (including how to do research, how to write and present a paper, how to design a poster, how to review, etc), by Sylvia Miksch Notes on presenting theses, edited by Aaron Sloman, gives useful guidelines and ideas for PhD students writing their thesis. Sep 03,  · Expert Reviewed. How to Write a Conclusion for a Research Paper. Four Parts: Sample Conclusions Writing a Basic Conclusion Making Your Conclusion as Effective as Possible Avoiding Common Pitfalls Community Q&A The conclusion of a research paper needs to summarize the content and purpose of the paper without 80%(41).