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How To Start A Research Paper?

Shiv Ratan07 June 2019


Decide on a topic:


Deciding on a topic is a tricky part because of all the different options available will overwhelm you. You will most likely bounce around from topic to topic until you get that one topic. For this, you need a lot of time. So, start working on your research paper as early as possible without procrastinating.


You should have a rough idea of what sources can be used, how long it should be, the array of topics you can choose from, and the deadline to turn it in. After understanding these parameters, you can set a schedule to complete the paper on time. 


Now, read whatever has been already written about the topic you chose. This is the best way to narrow down your research. You can consult Google scholar or do a web search. The topic you choose should be one on which you can find suitable information. Narrow down your content to a manageable size. If there is a difficulty in finding information about your topic, don’t waste time and immediately change the topic. 


Assembling a Thesis:


Draw a mind map or an outline based on your previous reading. Include all the interesting and important points with your ideas about the same too. It can also have questions to which you want the answers to. This mind map you make can be edited and reorganized any time further while you are developing your research paper.


Try to formulate different hypotheses. They are the probable answers to your research question. Answer the question with all the information you know about the topic. Your thesis statement is the highlight of your research paper. Include all the essential information in it so the reader knows what the paper is going to be about. It should be a 3-5-line statement. This will control the direction and development of your research paper.


Performing the main research:


Decide on the sources you will be referring to for your extensive research further. For a science research paper, you will have to conduct the necessary experiments, observe them and collect data from the experiment performed. If you feel too overwhelmed by the amount of research, make an appointment with the research librarian as they are well updated about research and can help you guide your research. Use resources like reference books, internet, newspaper articles, and books to balance the sources.


Make notes for every important point you come across. For instance, when you are conducting research or performing your experiment in an archive or a library, you will have to create a detailed record of your findings. Take notes on a digital device or using your notepad. Write the author’s name, title and publication information so that it is easier for you to type the reference list at the end of the research paper. Avoid copy-pasting data from the internet to your actual draft of paper due to plagiarism issues. 


After you have read about your topic deeply and gathered plenty of information, expand and revise your working mind map or outline by adding or subtracting information, explanations, and examples. Your aim must be to balance and develop each of your main points. 


Writing your Research paper:


Write an outline of everything you have researched so far. An outline is meant for you to organize your thoughts before you sit down to write. It will also make it easier to figure out what needs to come first. Once you have a basic idea of the trajectory of your research paper, you will be able to introduce the paper more professionally. Have a list of questions you would like to answer in the outline. You can initiate with your thesis in the beginning and then break it down into subdivisions that back up your argument. Continue doing your research if you need to fill holes in your outline. Make sure you gather bibliographic information as you read.


You must figure out what major points you are planning on covering. All these major points must be listed in your introduction and as a part of all your major headings for the body of your research paper.

Start the paper with a factual statement about your topic. Some like to work their way into the topic they chose. This will reach the people who want to know the broad appeal of your work. 

Write the body of the research paper. Start with the thesis statement and omit the introduction for now. Support the details to systematically and logically validate your thesis statement. For now, omit the conclusion also.


Read and revise to make sure that your ideas are well organized and they back your thesis statement. Every paragraph should have one topic that is derived from the thesis statement of your research paper. If any paragraph does not have it, omit that part or revise your thesis if you think it is warranted. Check if you have quoted and paraphrased your content accurately. Make sure to acknowledge your sources even for your paraphrasing. Every idea which did not come to you as a personal epiphany or as a result of your own logical reasoning should be credited to its owner.


Remember to spell check your work. But even this is not 100% foolproof. You must always edit grammar, spelling, and content personally. Spellcheck in word won’t tell you if you have used the wrong word unless that word is misspelt. Try to be aware of homonyms too.


Revise the draft of your research paper again for argument and clarity. Rephrase and restate your thesis statement. Get your research paper printed out and start making notes with a pen or pencil on it. Some people prefer to read their papers aloud. When you hear your own words, your brain tends to process them differently. This process can make finding errors in your research paper a little easier.

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