Rasmussen University Answers. Answers Ask a Question. What are the steps to writing a research paper? Answer Steps to follow : Choose a topic Find information Identify the issues related to your topic Locate books, articles, and reports that give you background information and more Create and state your thesis Organize your thoughts and notes Make an outline Find more information ; this time find content that supports your points Write your introduction Write the body of the paper Write the conclusion of the paper Set your rough draft aside for a while Submit your paper to Grammarly , our automated proofreading service.
Submit your paper to the Writing Lab in the Online Tutoring center! Edit and revise your paper Submit your paper Watch the instructional video series below for more information! FAQ Actions. Was this helpful? Yes No The conclusion paragraph shouldn't add any new information. Now it's time to edit your essay. Think about what synonyms you can use to eliminate repetition and make the piece stronger—and of course, look for spelling and grammatical errors as well.
Ask a friend to review it as well; a fresh set of eyes can do wonders. Once you're satisfied with the final product, create your works cited page. You've likely completed a similar task in high school, but college bibliographies can be tricky.
Depending on which format you used to write your paper—likely MLA or APA—research how to compile your references accordingly. Make sure your in-text citations are correct and formatted according to the right style as well. Take note of these steps to perfect paper writing.
For more writing and assignment advice, check out our Majors and Academics section. Join the CollegeXpress community! Tags: academic papers college academics essay writing writing. Alyssa Abel is an education writer who helps students and teachers pursue their passions. Read more of her work on Syllabusy. CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.
Break down the topic Most essays provide a prompt. Construct an outline Don't jump directly into your final product. Start with the body Every writer takes a different approach to a new project, but many students like to start in the middle and expand outward.
Here are some key paper writing tips to keep in mind: Keep your thesis in mind as you write. Begin each body paragraph with a topic sentence. And end each with a connecting sentence to the next paragraph. Stick to third person.
Unless it's a narrative essay, terms like "I am" or "I think" may discredit your points , as they're overly casual. Format quotes correctly and provide enough evidence for your points. As you write, make notes of what sources you used after quotes and information—this is important for when you go back to add proper in-text citations. Consult your style guide and follow guidelines for the assignment.
In MLA style, for example, you should never use contractions, and all your in-text citations should follow a specific structure. Write clearly and concisely, aka without fluff. Learning to communicate effectively in writing is a skill that will help you achieve success both in college and later in your professional career. Remember to continuously consult your outline for guidance and structure as you write.
Add a few final touches After you've completed the body paragraphs, it's time to circle back. Cite all sources Once you're satisfied with the final product, create your works cited page. Join Now. Join our community of over 5 million students! Join CollegeXpress.
By the time you start writing, you should already have conducted research and assembled your evidence. You should also know from your outline which pieces of evidence you want to use to back up each claim. What you have probably not finished working out is how you want to present those pieces of evidence and tie all the claims together.
The first draft is the time to focus on doing that. Writing drafts makes the work more manageable. It also builds in the time necessary for your brain to integrate the information and come up with new ways to present it. With that in mind, here are some ways to maximize the benefits of drafting:. You can always return later to fix the mistakes that drove you crazy.
If you get stuck, just jump to the next paragraph. At this stage, your goal is to keep writing. Allow time between drafts: One of the great benefits of writing a series of drafts is that it allows your brain to sift through the information layer by layer. Enjoy the benefits of that. The first thing you should assemble is evidence.
You cannot make a good argument unless you have strong evidence in sufficient amounts. It is the foundation of the rest of your paper—every claim you make and conclusion you draw must be backed up by the evidence you present. Evidence can come in many forms: data, written reports or articles, graphs or visual representations, even anecdotes and interviews. Choose whatever forms work best for your argument. While it is important to provide enough evidence to support your argument, be selective about what you use.
It is better to choose several very convincing pieces of evidence than to have many different pieces that are only vaguely convincing. Also be careful about how reliable your evidence is. Faulty evidence can damage the credibility of your entire paper, so make sure that everything you use is accurate and comes from a trustworthy source.
Next, you want to be clear on what conclusions you are drawing. Make sure that every conclusion corresponds to some piece of evidence. Also have an idea of how you want to organize your conclusions, particularly the order in which you will present them. Conclusions should build on each other. Warrants are the way in which you link evidence to conclusions. Even though you will not state every warrant openly, you need to make sure that they all hold up under questioning.
If required, you need to be able to articulate to the audience why evidence supports claims and conclusions. You should also have an idea of what parts of your argument are complex or important enough that your warrants will need to be stated explicitly. You have your thesis and all of the points of argument and counter-argument mapped out, along with their supporting evidence.
The thesis often appears in the opening paragraph of the paper, although you may choose to construct a different form for your paper. Each point of argument or counter-argument will have a paragraph of its own. Let your topic and style of argument guide your method of introduction: A controversial topic that includes strong parries with counter-arguments might best be introduced by a provocative statement.
A story about how the topic garnered your interest might be an inviting introduction to a paper that includes personal anecdotes. You might decide to begin with the question or conundrum that leads to your topic sentence. Some topics are best described with imagery. Even if on the first round there will be only one reader, write as if you have a broad audience.
You need a strong start if you want the reader to read more than the first few sentences. You make it interesting by making strong statements. Take a risk and be bold. Why should anyone care about this topic Show us! He sits on the ground a few feet from the rubble, open-mouthed and barely breathing. And something inside him is dying too. Asking for additional assistance can simply be too stressful for an already vulnerable veteran.
It is our responsibility as civilians to ensure their treatment and recovery. What technique did the writer use to capture your attention? Did it work? What other elements of a good introduction did you notice here? What elements are missing? Can you find the thesis? What do you think about the use of statistics in the second paragraph? What would you do differently if you were introducing this thesis? When analyzing your evidence, be as thorough and clear as possible.
You may be familiar with the rhetorical strategy of logos, or step-by-step rational argument. It will probably be helpful to adopt that as a model and conduct your analysis through progressive points, each one of which builds off the previous one.
Even if it seems like you are oversimplifying things, it is better to give your audience too much analysis than too little. You do not want any part of your process to be ambiguous for your readers, or they may stop understanding or agreeing with your argument. Whether you start off with your strongest point or a counter-argument, or you reel your reader in slowly, your body paragraphs will each have the following elements:.
Each paragraph addresses one and only one idea in support of the thesis: Think of each paragraph as a point to be made, and then gather the resources around it. You can have several pieces of evidence in a paragraph, but each piece should be supporting that one point. In turn, of course, each paragraph each point supports the thesis.
Each paragraph needs its own focus. You want the reader drawing the conclusion that this point supports the thesis. Scholarly articles should be evaluated based on criteria such as thoroughness, credibility, and accuracy. Take the same approach with your paper. Think about the sub-claims you will need to make to clarify and support your main argument. If you make a claim, what other things will you need to prove in order to back that up?
What assumptions have you made that need to be articulated to your reader? There is a subtle art to transitions: You get a better sense of this art as you read and write more. Therefore, you link your paragraphs with transition sentences that make the path clear:.
You can guess that this body paragraph follows others that discuss wind and solar power, and the thesis is about the use of alternative energy sources. This paragraph will likely show that geothermal power is also viable.
If you find it difficult to create a transition, it may be that you need to move the paragraphs around so that a natural transition arises. You have permission to get creative. You might take the perspective of a skeptic and experience the argument through his eyes, or you might show us a vision of a brighter future now that your thesis has been implemented. The watchword is synthesis, rather than repetition. Tie in the more compelling elements from the introduction and body paragraphs to provide a sense of cohesion: If you used an image in your introduction think of the soldier from the example above , consider recalling it in the conclusion.
Similarly, you can recall images or stories used in other parts of the paper. Think of the crescendo in a piece of music, where the theme is woven together with other elements of the piece, and the listener is moved to tears. Revisiting and weaving, making something new in the process, is what makes a conclusion effective. Read over your paper. What stands out to you? What gives you chills? The same will probably be true for your reader.
These are the points to recall in your conclusion. Just as a lawyer lays out his case to the jury most powerfully in closing arguments, this is your chance to make your case clearly and concisely. Revising happens on many different levels of your paper, from individual words and sentences to larger issues of organization and coherence.
Drafting and revising is a dialogue between the inner artist and the inner critic. The artist should not be bothered by the critic while in the creative zone, and the critic should be let loose unfettered during the revision process. Revision is almost universally reviled initially, but the more experienced a writer becomes, the more he or she appreciates this pruning process. In the prewriting stage, we ask the inner critic to take a nice long nap all the way through the first drafting phase, but now we awaken it and put it to work.
Revision : Revising ideas so that they are persuasive, cogent, and form a solid argument is the real work of writing. The break will give you the necessary distance from what you have written to look at it with a critical eye and will give you the psychological space to shift from artist to critic. Reviewing : Re-reading completed work is essential for more than just catching typos. We first need to distinguish revising from editing.
The first thing to look for when revising is purpose. Is it still what the paper is about? And if so, does everything in your paper relate back to that argument? Read through the paper now and check for purpose. The next step is to ensure that your argument makes sense and has power. All of your claims may relate to your thesis, yes, but are you convinced? Make yourself very hard to please. Then go through the paper and make notes on these aspects and any others that strike you as you read.
So, if you have the time, it would be wise to take a break from the paper again at this point, at least for a little while. You can even go back to your outline and move things around again, reevaluating the order of the argument. Thesis, claims, order: these are the bones of the paper—the foundation.
We begin with the body of the paper, leaving the introduction and conclusion for later. The body is the meat on the bones. It needs to be evenly distributed and form a powerful whole. For each one, ask the following questions, but ask them in gentler artist mode, rather than in ruthless critic mode:. Again, not a bad idea to take a break before addressing these two paragraphs. Take time to revise the introduction now, but consider beginning the revision with a prewriting exercise to get the creative juices flowing again.
If you can leave the revision of the conclusion for a few hours after answering these questions, your brain may solve any question of how to skillfully weave your argument together. Allow yourself some quiet time to let images and stories to arise. Re-read the revised introduction as a source of inspiration. Revising can be a metaphorical journey in letting go. Yes, you know it will make for a better paper in the long run, but you may bemoan all the lost time and effort.
Your final paper will be successful because you trusted the process—trusted your creative mind to come up with new material even better than the old. After revising for purpose, you still have two levels of revision left: editing and proofreading. When you move on to editing, the emphasis is clarity. Then, once your sentence structure and language have been cleaned up, you move on to proofreading, where you check the accuracy of your spelling and grammar.
Editing, like revising, is something that you will do throughout the writing process. Most of the editorial process will take place after you have worked out your final argument and organizational structure. Editing looks at your work on a sentence-by-sentence level, considering ways to make everything you say as clear and precise as possible.
With language, the overall question is whether you are using the most accurate language possible to describe your ideas. Be sure to check for the following. Finally, pay attention to wordiness. Writing that is clean, precise, and simple will always sound best. If you want to make everything easy for your audience to read and understand, start by simplifying your sentences. If you think a sentence is too complicated, rephrase it so that it is easier to read, or break it into two sentences.
Complicated is not a synonym for artistic! Consider how balanced your sentences are within a paragraph. Instead, vary your prose. Editing for style is more difficult, because as writers gain practice they usually develop their own unique stylistic quirks.
Instead of thinking that you should write a certain way, what follows is general advice for the kinds of writing that can help or hurt your work. Think about how you use active and passive verbs. Often, rewriting a sentence to take it from passive to active will make it simpler and easier to read.
Consider the following sentences:. The second is shorter, less wordy, and clearer. In this case, changing from passive to active made a major improvement. Some sentences do read better with them. Another thing to look at with your verb use is parallelism—using the same pattern of words to provide balance in a sentence.
If you are listing things, try to make them all the same part of speech. Look at these examples:. Proofreading is the final stage of revision. Wait to begin this step when you are sure that you will not be changing anything else in your paper.
Try reading each page backward. Know your errors. As you get used to revising, you will probably realize that there are some errors you make more frequently than others. Maybe you have a tendency toward wordiness. Whatever your particular weakness is, you can pay special attention to it when revising. Secondly, take the time to do multiple re-readings.
Start by going through for one particular kind of error, and only pay attention to that. Then choose another thing to focus on, and read your paper again. Step 2: Understand the Assignment Length? Free topic choice or assigned? Type of paper: Informative? Any terminology in assignment not clear? Library research needed or required? How much? What style of citation is required? Can you break the assignment into parts? When will you do each part?
Are you required or allowed to collaborate with other members of the class? Other special directions or requirements? Step 3: Select a Topic Find a topic which interests you you know something about you can research easily Write out topic and brainstorm. In a sentence or short paragraph, describe what you think your paper is about. Organize your bibliography records first. Organize notes next one idea per document— direct quotations, paraphrases, your own ideas. Arrange your notes under the main headings of your tentative outline.
Print Tweet Share on Facebook. Comments 0. Add a public comment to this FAQ Entry. Contact Us. Submit a Question. Powered by Springshare ; All rights reserved. Report a tech support issue. Login to LibApps. Chat Expectations and Guidelines. The answer might be something like the following examples:. But, what is important to remember, is that this is just a starting point. A thesis needs to be definitive, and should not be about you.
So, you might change the above answers to statements like:. Many universities require freshmen students to live on campus for their first year, which keeps students out of trouble, helps students get better grades, and increases their likelihood of staying in school. Can you see the differences between the first set of sentences and the second set of thesis statements? It is also very important not to be too vague. If you look at the above examples, each of them makes a specific point about the topic.
Another key to crafting a strong thesis statement is making sure that your thesis is arguable. Another way to check whether or not your statement is arguable: Is Pride and Prejudice a book? There is no point in writing an entire essay about that obvious fact. Checking whether or not someone could argue with your thesis statement is a good way to make sure you have written a strong, specific thesis statement that will guide you as you write your paper and earn a good grade for your efforts.
After you have worked to create a specific, arguable, definitive thesis statement, this is another place that it could be helpful to check in with your professor, a writing center tutor, or another trusted educator or mentor.
Show them your thesis statement and ask them if they think itis a powerful thesis that you will guide you as you build your essay. Like a bibliography, the way that you create your outline may depend on your assignment. If your teacher asked you to turn in an outline, be sure to make an outline that follows the example, guidelines, or requirements you have been given.
Creating an outline is really about structuring your paper. If you have two main points in your thesis, three or five main sections might not work for your research paper. If the assignment asks you to introduce a topic, explain different opinions on the topic, and then choose and explain your opinion, then your paper probably needs three main sections, one for each of those objectives.
As you create an outline, think critically about what you are trying to explain or communicate in your research paper and what structure allows you to do that in a clear, organized way. It usually makes sense to have an introduction and conclusion, but what goes between will vary based on the contents of your essay. The outlining stage of producing your argument is a great time to think about bad forms of argumentation you should avoid. You might feel like you should have started writing sooner, but, rest assured: the work you have done up to this point is important.
It will help you create a strong, clear, interesting research paper. There is time to perfect your research paper as you edit. Right now, you just need to write. You have done a lot of work already, so trust that and work from memory as you write your research paper.
Working from your own ideas will help you avoid plagiarism. If you quote something word-for-word, you need to cite your source. Use quotation marks and mention the source of the quote. You will also need to include more information about the quote on a Works Cited or References page. For example, Bill Gates is a billionaire who founded Microsoft. That is a common fact; you can find it stated in numerous trustworthy sources. You have done a lot of work to get to this point! And then, get back to work.
Start by editing for content. This means thinking about structure, organization, wording, and length. You carefully organized your paper when you created an outline. Now that you have written your paper, does that organization still make sense? If so, great. If not, what do you need to move around?
Did you communicate what you meant to get across? Can you make your paper clearer or easier to understand? This is also a good point to think back to Step 1. Does your paper include everything the assignment asked for? If not, where can you include the missing pieces? If your paper is too long or too short, now is the time to cut it down or build it up to an acceptable length. Be careful and thoughtful about these edits.
If you need to take something out, what makes sense to cut and how can you re-organize your paper so that it maintains a strong structure? Think about where you could expand or what you can add that fits in with the rest of your paper, further develops the ideas you are presenting, or adds valuable information to your research paper. Once you have made all the changes you think necessary, read back through your paper again to be sure it all makes sense.
If you are tired of looking at your research paper, give it to a friend, mentor, or teacher and ask them to take a look at your paper and let you know what they think of the content. It is also important to edit for grammar. This might seem daunting, but there are lots of tools and resources that can help.
Like editing for content, editing for grammar might take a few run-throughs. It can even help you come back to your paper feeling more focused, which is key to catching and fixing mistakes. Give your paper a day or two or an hour or two, if you are running short on time and give it a final read-through. It can be helpful to print a copy of your paper and read a hard-copy if you have only read through it on a screen thus far.
You might notice mistakes or formatting issues that your eyes missed while reading on your computer. Once you have read your research paper for a final time and double checked that your paper does everything the assignment is asking for, it is time to submit.
Be sure to follow any instructions you have been given about turning in your research paper. Also give yourself time to troubleshoot if things go wrong. If you try to print your paper five minutes before class starts, what are you going to do if your printer is out of toner? If you are supposed to submit your paper online at midnight and the wifi is down when you login to submit your assignment at PM, even though that is unfortunate, it is still something you could have avoided by logging on with enough time to solve any problems that arise before the deadline.
Your teacher will appreciate and respect your preparedness, and it will likely impact your grades positively. If you log on the day before and see that the place where you are supposed to turn in your assignment is locked or unavailable, send your teacher an email so that they can help you submit your paper before it is due. Some instructors might, but you are just lucky at that point. When writing a research paper for a teacher or professor, it is important to step back and think about why they asked you to write this essay in the first place.
More than likely, they are giving you an opportunity to learn something. Learning often involves trial-and-error, making mistakes, and asking lots of questions. However, do remember to be respectful of them, their time, and efforts. It is important to follow any directions that you have been given by your teacher or professor, to take responsibility and not expect them to do your work for you, and to listen to the answers and advice they share with you.
Working with your teacher and asking them for help is an often overlooked resource when it comes to writing research papers. Be sure to take advantage of this help; your paper will be all the better for it. Another often-overlooked resource is the research librarian. Did you know that, in addition to tons of books and online materials, college and university libraries often have staff whose job it is to help answer your questions?
Research librarians specialize in research it might sound obvious, but take a second to get excited about how much this could help you and your research paper! These librarians usually specialize in particular fields and subjects, so you can get specific, expert help that pertains to your topic. They can help you search for resources, connect you with experts in the field your researching, or give you suggestions about the direction of your research and writing.
Choose a title for your essay that expresses your primary idea. The strongest titles will include a verb. Take a look at any newspaper and you'll see that every title has a verb. Your title should make someone want to read what you have to say. Make it provocative. Some people will tell you to wait until you have finished writing to choose a title. Other people find that writing a title helps them stay focused.
You can always review your title when you've finished the essay to ensure that it's as effective as it can be. Your introduction is one short paragraph, just a sentence or two, that states your thesis your main idea and introduces your reader to your topic. After your title, this is your next best chance to hook your reader.
Here are some examples:. The body of your essay is where you develop your story or argument. Once you have finished your research and produced several pages of notes, go through them with a highlighter and mark the most important ideas, the key points. Choose the top three ideas and write each one at the top of a clean page. Now go through your notes again and pull out supporting ideas for each key point. You don't need a lot, just two or three for each one. Write a paragraph about each of these key points, using the information you've pulled from your notes.
If you don't have enough for one, you might need a stronger key point. Do more research to support your point of view. It's always better to have too many sources than too few. You've almost finished. The last paragraph of your essay is your conclusion.
It, too, can be short, and it must tie back to your introduction. In your introduction, you stated the reason for your paper. In your conclusion, you should summarize how your key points support your thesis. Here's an example:. If you're still worried about your essay after trying on your own, consider hiring an essay editing service. Reputable services will edit your work, not rewrite it. Choose carefully. One service to consider is Essay Edge. Good luck! The next essay will be easier.
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Your email address will not. Plagiarism does not only constitute the words you use: remove what your paper will not for your thesis statement. How Do You Begin an. Persuasive Interesting argument essay topics This type of the next generation of children work to make sure you fix all grammatical and spelling. PARAGRAPHFAQ Actions. Co-authors: Updated: May 25, Categories: with step-by-step directions. She has also written several. She is also a homeschooling things, everything is related to everything else, so you have an educational philosophy that places paper will not be covering and the masterpieces in art. Reader Success Stories Anonymous Jun. This also includes instructional pieces 6, More reader stories Hide.Understand Your Assignment. Prepare. Identify the purpose or goal of your assignment: Why are you. Brainstorm. Think and Decide. Research, if needed. Find Information.