Academic Writing Complete Guide

Purpose and Audience of this Guide
Why read academic articles?
Essay Writing
Report Writing
Oral Presentations
Finding Sources
Good Academic Scholarship
Understanding Feedback
Exam preparation and Techniques

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Research Papers

This original piece of academic writing hinges on an original research idea, its analysis, and the interpretation of the research findings. It can be a term paper, a thesis, or doctoral dissertation. If you want to achieve supreme excellence and perfection in writing a research paper, then you need more than just knowledge. In the first place, you must approach this endeavor with a positive attitude. Most students do not like writing such papers because pf their length, the time involved and most evidently, lack of enough skills. A research paper deserves some higher level of attentiveness and skill since it is a crucial part if the academic process, especially if the student is looking forward to graduate. If you have the right attitude, then this process will be more enjoyable.

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Starting your research paper

One does not simply wake up and starts to write a research paper. There are several things that one has to consider when writing a research paper.

  • Choosing a topic
    When selecting a topic for your research paper, you have to consider your interests. This is because the paper should hour your passion in the way you discuss the topic. If you settle on a topic that you are not interested in, the process might not be that enjoyable. More so, you have to select a topic that you can manage. You have to avoid subjects that tend to be too technical, learned, or specialized. Even though you are supposed to narrow your topic to a manageable range, you should not go for topics that are too narrow to find supporting materials.

    On the same note, you are not supposed to choose a topic that is too broad as there would be too much information to go through before you ca decide what you are going to work on in your research.
  • Research your topic
    Once you settle on the topic for your research paper, it is time to search for information that relates to it. You can use both primary and secondary sources. The school library is a perfect starting point for your research. Search for books, journals, peer-reviewed articles that can help you in making your argument as concert as possible. The internet can also be a good source of information for your paper. When searching for websites, pay attention to the domain name extensions. For instance, you can use .edu since that is an educational institution site, .gov meaning that it is a government site or even .org because it is a nonprofit organization website.

    These sites are more reliable than most of the .com sites. Gather as much information as you can regarding your topic.
  • Formulate your thesis statement
    Once you have all the material that you need. If you are not sure if your paper requires a thesis statement, ask your instructor. This is the central idea of your research paper and every argument that you provide must be based on it. You can employ critical thinking and write your thesis statement down in a single sentence. This is like a declaration of your belief. The major portion of your research paper will be dedicated to prove this point and defending it using evidence.

    Your thesis statement is supposed come early in your paper. It mostly appears as the last sentence in your introduction or in the second paragraph if you are writing a lengthy research paper. You cannot craft your thesis statements immediately when you have just started fulfilling your assignment. Before you cast formulate your central argument, you have to collect, organize and analyze the materials as well as your ideas. Your thesis statement is bound to change as you progress in the writing process and as such, you cannot have a finally formulated statement before you have completed your paper.

    It is important to refrain from using fuzzy statements and arguments and instead use a specific subject. The paper is supposed to present something new to the audience and as such, it should be interesting and educative. This section does not allow you to cite any authors. You are supposed to present your own ideas using your own words instead of copying them from other writers. Your thesis statement should be able to achieve the following:

    Explain to the audience your interpretation of the subject
    Tell the audience what to expect in your research paper
    Answer the questions asked
    Present your claim so other people can agree or dispute it

    Your thesis statement must be very strong and if you have ample time, you can show it to your instructor for revision. Check whether:

    If it answers the question of the assignment
    It elicits debate and if it does not, then you have just provided a summary.
    Its passes the “so what” test and provides new and interesting information to the audience

    If you have a well-prepared thesis, you will have well-shaped ideas. This will increase the credibility of your paper.

  • Formulate an outline
    If you want to have a direction when you are writing your research paper, you should come up with an outline for your paper. The basic outline of a research paper must include the following sections:

    Title page
    The body, which includes materials and methods, results, discussion and conclusion. This breakdown depends on the nature of your research.

    Your outline can be formal or informal. When it comes to an informal outline, it helps the author put down his ideas and organize them. It can be revised at any time without paying attention to the form. A formal outline has numbers and letters that are used to arrange topics and subtopics.

  • Organize your notes
    You have to organize every piece of information you have according to your outline. You then critically analyses your data. Use the best available sources to check your accuracy and verify the credibility and factual soundness of the information. Note opposing views if necessary if they will help in reiterating your point. This is a crucial stage in your research paper writing process.

    You are supposed to analyze, synthesize, sort, and digest the information that you have gathered and get to learn something about your topic. This is the real purpose of your research paper. You have to communicate your thoughts, ideas, insights and research findings effectively. This is doe through written words in your report, essay, or term, paper.

    Any information that is not relevant to your topic must be avoided. This applies also the information that you do not understand all ideas that you have borrowed from elsewhere must be cited and referenced appropriately. Depending on the field in which you are researching, you have to conform to the guidelines provided in the style of formatting and referencing. You can cite and refe3rence using MLA, APA, Harvard, Chicago manual style, and so on. This is what averts chances of plagiarism especially in academic papers.
  • Write your first draft
    You can start with the first topic in your outline. Read relevant notes that you have collected and marked. You can summarize, paraphrase or quote directly for every idea that you plan to use in your paper. It is important to use a technique that works for you. Remember that this is the first draft and as such, it is subject to revision as you progress.
  • Revise your outline and draft
    Read your draft to check on any content error. You then double-check your line and figures as you arrange and rearrange ideas to conform to your outlie. If necessary, you ca reorganize your outline while paying attention to your audience. When you are doing the revision, consider the following factors:

    Ascertain if your thesis is concise And clear
    Identify if you followed the outline
    Check if your arguments are presented in a logical sequence
    Ensure that all the sources hare well cited and referenced
    Establish if you have proved your thesis with strong supporting arguments
    Check if your intentions and points are clear

    Read your paper again to check for grammatical errors, spelling, and punctuation mistakes. Everything you do must be for the purposes of improving the quality of your paper. You ca also get someone else you read your paper. This will be crucial especially if you want to make the paper flawless. A new pair of eye will give you necessary feedback concerning mistakes that you might have overlooked. Ask them to tell you if the paper sounds convincing. Use the feedback that you get to make the necessary changes to your draft.

  • Prepare the final copy
    Once you have corrected all the mistakes, you ought to prepare your final copy. Type it on a fresh page. When you are through with the typing process, read your paper to ascertain that it is free from mistakes. Use the assignment sheet again to ensure that you understand what it expected of you. Once you establish everything is fine, you can submit your research paper to your instructor.

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