A research paper is a step further after an essay. We view a research paper as a tool, which helps to expose the students’ research, analytical and critical skills. While in an essay, you are in most cases given a certain topic/question/problem and have in a narrative form to express your opinion towards it, a research paper requires a student to collect data, go through the research materials, check out what other scientists have to say about this problem and then put a paper in a careful and well-planned manner. Many types of research writing are subsumed by the term of ‘research paper’, we generally view a research paper as a first step (a rehearsal) towards a more serious and profound research work writing a dissertation or a thesis.
Many students feel intimidated by having to do a research paper. Such intimidation is cause by the fact that they do not realize the steps of writing and pulling together a research paper. Just as in case with any other task, once you know how to break down a bigger task into smaller steps, you are 50% done. Generally, these smaller steps look as follows:
Choose a topic. Choosing a topic may become quite a hard task. If you are not sure what topic you would like to deal with and feel lost, brainstorming should help you to overcome this problem. While picking a topic for your research paper it would be reasonable to look at the availability of materials, to make sure if the topic is interesting for you, to make sure you understand it and know what you want to focus on. Sometimes students grad a certain topic of a research paper, later to find themselves unable to cope with it. Therefore, it’s critical that you take a step back and make sure you know what it is about, make sure it is interesting for you, there is plenty of materials only then you will not face any problems writing it.
Doing the research. At the stage of writing a research paper you are unlikely to be a pioneer in the field. It’s more likely that the question has been amply explored and there is plenty of references on the question. All that’s required from you is to do a substantial research, to discover what other reputable scientists have to say about it. Several good tips on how to find good sources for your research paper: besides knowing the guru-scientists of the field (it’s always a must-know), you can check whose works they quote in their books and thus discover other sources, which would help you to find related specialists in other fields of science. Check out the Internet, it will help you to get a good dozen names, who are specializing in your topic. Of course, if you have been given a specific reference list, this step becomes very easy for you.
Finally, at this stage it’s always wise to write down details of the publication: author, publication date, publishing house, edition and so on. This will make you life easier when working on the works cited list (yes, it also counts towards you grade!) Do an outline and then draft your paper. Having selected and read the relevant literature, you will want to put what every source is about in a logical sequence. In order to be able to do this, you will have to possess at least some basic knowledge over the subject matter (you will, after all, gain it after all the reading done). In order to do so, you will have to determine what is primary, and what is secondary in a paper and arrange it is a logical sequence. Here is a general example: book X speaks of approach A has changed approach B as a result of, let’s say, technical progress. Book Y describes approach A, while book Z deals with approach B.
Consequently, the logical sequence of your writing would look as follows: reference to ideas of book Y, followed by book X and then concluded by book Z. It can also be (but less likely) Y-Z-X. The bottom line is to make if flow nicely and logically. Proofread, edit and revise. Once your paper is almost done, you will have to go over it once again to ensure that it contains no mistakes. Presence of the latter also counts towards your overall grade, so you have got to be very careful with them. This step is very important because while working on the global stuff, people tend to miss out details. In order to cover for that, a polishing pass has to be given to the paper at the end.