Research papers are a regular part of the curriculum. American students usually start writing them toward the end of elementary school.
But no matter how many years of experience we have writing these papers, it can still be a challenging thing to tackle.
Are you struggling when writing a research paper?
In this article, we’ll tell you how to write an academic research paper like a pro.
Choose a Topic You’re Interested In
Sometimes, we’re given a prompt and that’s all we have to work with. But if you’re given several, then you’re in luck.
Take a look at the topics and see what you have an interest or passion in. When you’re able to choose one you like, the academic research paper won’t seem as boring. Instead, when you do your research, you’ll actually have a vested interest in finding out more and uncovering fascinating details.
Make sure that when you choose a topic, it’s not too broad or general. See if you can narrow it down to something more specific, as that’ll probably get you a higher grade.
If you’re not able to choose a topic, you can still make something of it. Maybe there’s a way to take a different or unique approach.
Establish Your Thesis First
Now that you have a topic picked out, you need to first establish your thesis. Do this before you start doing your research.
Many people make the mistake of doing research first and then determining their thesis. This just causes them to do a bunch of unnecessary work.
If you can form a robust thesis first, this means you can cut down on a lot of work. For instance, if your thesis argues in favor of something and you see a chapter of a book that argues against it, you might be able to skip that chapter completely (unless you want to point out some counterarguments, of course).
In any case, if you know what thesis you want to support, you can sift through all your research a lot quicker and in a more targeted fashion.
Set out to Do Thorough Research
Next up after your thesis is the research, of course. When you write a research paper, it’s absolutely vital that you cite credible sources. This means you need to find secondary sources; if you can get primary ones, even better.
While doing your research, don’t forget to earmark physical books or take notes on where important passages are (this goes for both physical and digital books). You might think you know exactly which paragraphs you want to refer back to, but when you get into heavy research, it may be difficult to go back and retrace your steps.
To save yourself some time, make some detailed notes as you go along. Don’t make them too detailed, as it may eat up precious time. But make sure your notes are thorough and not just one or two words; they might make sense now, but when you refer to them later, it may just look like gibberish.
Outline Your Paper
When it comes to how to write a research paper, it’s essential that you don’t just dive straight in. You need to come up with a “game plan,” which can help you stick to what’s important and not stray onto tangents.
Refer to your notes you’ve made during research. This is all great information; now, all you need to do is organize it in such a fashion that’s cohesive and supports your thesis in a strong fashion.
Think about what points you want to drive home about your thesis. You can make these your headers and then find the corresponding research that supports each one.
You might be tempted to cram every single bit of information into your headers. You did spend a bunch of time on research, after all, so shouldn’t you utilize everything?
The truth is, you probably won’t be able to use every piece of information in your research paper, and that’s ok. What will make your paper stand out above the rest is your ability to discern between what’s necessary and what’s extraneous.
Write Your First Draft
Now that you have a good outline, you’re ready to write your first draft. Take all that information you’ve filled out in your paper and flesh them out.
Make sure you’re using a good word processing program. There’ll be nothing more frustrating than getting your paper done and then struggling for hours to get it formatted just right.
If you’re used to using the Microsoft Office suite and you’ve got a Mac now, you’ll be pleased to know there are ways to get the suite on iOS. You can follow the directions to do so here: https://setapp.com/how-to/setup-and-use-microsoft-office-suite-for-mac.
Revise, Revise, Revise
You’re not done after writing your first draft.
Let it sit for a bit, then go back to read it. Make note of anything that’s awkward or is grammatically incorrect. Obviously, you should also correct spelling mistakes.
After revising, let it sit for a little bit again. Then repeat this whole process a few times until you’re satisfied with the results.
If possible, have a friend or family member read over it as well. Sometimes, you can be too close to the paper, and your brain might automatically skip over errors and assume they’re correct. A fresh set of eyes can help catch some mistakes.
Make Your Next Academic Research Paper a Fantastic One With Our Tips
The next time you have to write an academic research paper, keep our tips in mind. You’ll no longer wonder how to do a research paper; instead, you’ll be able to tackle it head-on like a pro.
For more on writing, please take a look at our other blog articles.