The Easy Way to Write a Research Paper
Can writing a research paper really be easy?
Well, yes and no. It can be easy if you do enough research, which can be time-consuming. So if you think of "easy" as being "quick," you will be disappointed. However, if you follow just a few steps and do plenty of research, it can be "easy" enough. Of course, beginning as soon as you get the assignment is a good idea. Usually for a huge research paper you are given four to eight weeks, which is completely doable.
Build a Topics Inventory
Your assignment could be specific to a topic, or could just be "write an argumentative research paper." Either way, it is good to start with a topics inventory. Find topics that fit in with the assignment, but also topics that you are interested in. Topics that you are actually interested in are going to be much easier to research, because you're not going to nod off every time you start reading. So just list out all these topics that you think you can develop into a research paper. After you have your basic topics, try to develop it several different ways. Take your personal interest in the topic, combine it with the academic subject, and from there you should be able to come up different, more condensed topics to write about.
Compose a controlling idea statement
Once you have chosen your topic from the topics inventory that you constructed, it is time to write a controlling idea statement. This statement can be your thesis statement, an enthymeme (a "because" statement), or a hypothesis. This statement should be drafted and saved. You can change the wording later, but for now it gives you a great starting place.
Write a short proposal
Use your controlling idea statement and write a nice, cohesive paragraph proposing to your professor or teacher why you want to write this paper. This step is not always required, but it is a great step to take regardless. When you get to your outline, it is nice to have this information to come back to. The information in this proposal should show your interest in the subject. Make sure that you cite your sources, even if you're not turning it in. That way, when you lean on this information later, the source will be cited and will save a lot of headache.
Construct your research proposal
This proposal will bundle all of your preliminary ideas about your topic and will allow you to develop them academically. This is definitely a paper you will come back to when doing your drafts. 500-600 words will develop the project nicely. If you have less than this word count, it is likely that you do not have enough information. Remember to cite your sources! Again, we want to avoid plagiarism, and we also want it to be easy to cut and paste sentences directly from this proposal to your formal sentence outline.
The Annotated Bibliography
Personally, I think this is about the easiest part of a research paper. If you get a separate grade for an annotated bibliography, that should be an easy A! In the proper formatting designated by the professor or teacher, simply list out your sources, and follow each one with a good 150-200 word synopsis of the information you are planning to use from each one. No citing is needed on this assignment since it is listed under the work. Be mindful of your word count, especially if your instructor has given you a specific range. Your instructor may also give you a certain amount of works to cite.
The Review of Literature
The review of literature should be fussed over. Take your annotated bibliography, and any other informative notes that you've taken from your sources, and group them into like subjects. Write out each of your subjects as separate paragraphs. Make sure to cite the sources on this one, and also make sure that it ebbs and flows and makes sense. This step is neither hard nor time-consuming, however, it can be annoying to try to make all the information work together. Usually this review will be included in your final draft.
Write your formal sentence outline
When it comes to outlines, the formal sentence outline beats the "idea" outline hands-down. If you have your basic outline, just develop each heading, sub-heading, and topic into full, formal sentences. When it comes time to write that paper, the outline basically becomes the paper with just details filling in. At this point, you are very close to finishing the paper. Take your time with the formal sentence outline. It will end up saving time in the long run.
Onto the introduction
It's time to write the introduction. You should be getting your second wind right about now, and should find any passion about your subject that you may have lost during all that research. Your introduction should include your controlling idea statement, and then a broad, general idea of what your paper is about. Two or three well-formed paragraphs should easily spew onto the paper and introduce the reader to all of the wonderful research that you are getting ready to share. You are so close to being finished now, and it hasn't been too hard!
It is time to take all that wonderful information on your formal sentence outline and plug it into the bulk of your paper. Using that outline and all of the research that you have done, you should be able to write tight, concise paragraphs consisting of a topic sentence, and explanation of that topic sentence, an introduction to evidence, the evidence, and explanation of the evidence, and then be able to transition to the next paragraph. Never forget to cite your sources.
And the conclusion is....
...that this is easy! Okay, so now it's time to start wrapping this all up and write a conclusion to your paper. Make sure that your conclusion is substantial, and not a summary of your paper. The conclusion should close out the entire paper with a strong thought. Somewhere in your conclusion there should be a restatement of your controlling idea.
Your abstract should be a short little summary of your research paper. Write this last (duh!). Your abstract should make sense when read alone. It shouldn't be very long, and usually a word count will be assigned if you are assigned to write an abstract.
Put it all together now!
You should have:
- A cover page in the proper formatting
- An abstract
- The introduction
- A review of literature
- Body paragraphs
- References page
Good luck on your research paper! Hope the experience is rewarding and EASY!
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