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How to Write an Effective Research Paper

Written by Saira Naeem

OK, so let’s accept this we have all been there in our lives, the point that almost everyone dreads, the day when the school term ends and the lecturer comes out with seemingly impossible deadlines for the submission of the “research paper”.

For many writing a research paper can be challenging. No doubt it’s an intensive and meticulous task, but we believe that with the proper approach and years of schooling that gives one enough experience it can be done easily.

What is and is not a research paper

Let’s take a look at what a research paper is first of all. A research paper is a piece of academic writing. It  is the final product that the researcher comes up with after he /she has gone through an in depth and proper research process.

A research paper would thus include  theoretical and substantial information. It would involve the qualities of  critical thinking, interpretation, exploration, organization, evaluation, composition etc on part of the researcher to write a good research paper. Therefore, you cannot just Google up something write about it and call it a research paper because it most certainly won’t be one.

There are many types of research papers i.e argumentative, analytical or expository, our focus in this article however is not on the types rather on the ways and tips to write an effective and compelling research paper. So let’s begin….

Getting started

Before you actually start writing your paper keep certain things in handy, these include

  • Note pads, writing paper etc for jotting down notes
  • Highlighting markers
  • Sticky notes or play cards

Get organized, organization is the key

Would you be able to find an important document or a file if your work desk is literally cluttered with newspapers, magazines, journals etc? Most certainly not.

So  like in everyday life you won’t be able to function effectively with a disorganized attitude same holds true in case of your research paper.

You need to be organized to be effective. Organization would mean that

  • You carefully choose your topic for research
  • Your sources chosen should be helpful and reliable
  • Notes should be organized
  • You need to clearly outline your paper
  • Write a rough, skeleton draft first, elaborate later
  • Revise, rewrite final draft
  • Keep editing until you are finally happy with the end result

Develop your thesis statement and develop your supportive arguments during organization stage. Your thesis statement would summarize your main point and would guide the readers as to what the research paper is all about. The thesis statement is usually well thought out and a sentence or two long. Without a thesis statement your research paper would be nothing less than a jumble of  pointless words, opinions and thoughts.

Choose your topic carefully, topic selection is important

In order to write effectively you need to choose a topic in which you are genuinely interested. So if your research topic hasn’t been assigned to you by your supervisor you are lucky. You now have the freedom to select a topic of your own choice. Choose something according to your potential and liking. Choose a topic that you find easy to grasp and comprehend, something you are curious about it will give you the motivation to write with authority on the subject.

Avoid however to choose a topic that is too broad and general, be specific.

Do your Research carefully

Once you zero in on the topic of your choice dig into the research process. The library would be the best place to start from. Use books, published articles, journals, newspapers, computers and card catalogues to make you research easier. Just make sure that the sources you use are reliable.

Jot down notes properly

The organization rule comes in handy in this stage too. Note down all things useful and highlight beneficial points.

Remember that whenever you note something, write the important bibliographic information such as author, title, page numbers, vital dates etc along with it for the references section of your paper

Brainstorm outline

When you are done collecting all the vital information and data for your research paper what do you do next?

You start developing an out line for your research paper. You need to identify where all the information fits in, the beginning, middle or the end part.

It is when you brainstorm your outline that your research paper starts taking shape. You can outline your paper in the form of flow charts, diagrams or short phrases which ever way you choose for your ease.

Write a rough first draft first

Now start making sense of your outline or to put it another way breathe life into your outline. You can start turning the flow charts , diagrams and statements into concrete, precise and comprehensible sentences and paragraphs.

Since the first draft is hardly your finished final product you can always make the necessary changes as need be. Revise your draft and if you feel that you have missed something  important or more research is needed then make a point to do it now if you want your paper to be effective.

Write the final paper, proof read

Having  completed the aforementioned phases you now write you final research.. Your paper would now include an introduction where you introduce your topic, thesis statement to your readers, a main body where you develop all your arguments and research and a conclusion the place where you wrap it all up summarize and report your research findings of the research.if the findings are inconclusive you tell your readers here where there’s a need for further research to be done.

Proof reading would need to be done in two parts the first would be the developmental editing,( proof reading where you check to see) if your paper has

  • A regular, steady and natural flow
  • Your thesis statement is concise
  • Your paragraphs and sentences make sense
  • Your language is understandable etc

And grammatical part where you check to correct spellings, grammatical mistakes and punctuation errors.

Avoid, Avoid, Avoid

There are certain things we believe that would hinder the effectiveness of a paper and the researcher should avoid these at every cost, they are

  • Avoid loosing focus
  • Avoid making the research paper too lengthy
  • Avoid abbreviations and jarragon that can be understood only by experts
  • Avoid unnecessary diagrams, statistics
  • Avoid topics that are too complicated and general
  • Avoid duplication and repitition

Hopefully with these pointers and tips in mind you will be able to brush up your dream research paper easily.

References

“Tips for writing an effective research paper”. (April, 2015). Study in the USA. https://www.studyusa.com/en/a/986/tips-for-writing-an-effective-research-paper

Hertzberg, K. (November, 2017). “This is how to write an effective research paper”. Grammarly Blog. https://www.grammarly.com/blog/how-to-write-a-research-paper

P. Kamat.”How to write an effective research paper”. https://www3.nd.edu/~pkamat/pdf/researchpaper.pdf

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