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7 Easy Steps for Writing a Research Paper

7 Easy Steps for Writing a Research Paper
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7 Easy Steps for Writing a Research Paper and simple guidelines for composing research articles for academic journals like IEEE and others for your academics

7 Easy Steps for Writing a Research Paper and simple guidelines for composing research articles for academic journals like IEEE and others for your academics.

Research papers are a sort of academic writing in which the writer poses a question and then answers it using credible facts and reasoning. Another definition of a research paper (as provided by Thoughtco) is:

A form of academic writing in which students/academics research a topic, take a stand on it and then provide evidence to support that stand.

Students are typically required to write research papers during college degrees. These papers can be simple review papers that are assigned during a semester. Or they could be more advanced such as being part of your final year, where your degree depends on them.

Regardless, it is a truth that students in college have to write research papers. It can seem like a daunting task at first, but we are here to teach you how to tackle it in seven easy steps.

So, without further ado, let’s check them out.

  1. Determine Your Topic

If you are lucky, you won’t have to take this step at all. Research papers are obviously assigned by your professors. Sometimes, these professors provide a specific topic to you, and you don’t have to find one yourself. However, it is not uncommon for professors to simply give you a broad topic and let you choose the specific topic yourself.

This is where things can get troublesome. But, here is how you can deal with this using these simple tips—courtesy of the North Hennepin Community College (NHCC).

  • Find out any requirements and constraints that you need to conform to.
  • Choose the topic that is most interesting to you, as that makes it easier to work on.
  • Before going ahead with the research, do a preliminary search to see if there is enough content out there for you to conduct proper research.
  • Try choosing a topic that is relatively less known to keep it unique
  • If all else fails, ask the professor for help

By employing these tips, you can easily determine what topic to work on.

  1. Start Gathering Information

Now, that you have determined what your topic will be you have to start gathering relevant information on it.

At this stage, you just want to read as much as possible. Your main resources are going to be your institute’s library where you can find journals and books related to your topic. Aside from them, you can also use the internet to look for online journals and research papers as well as other forms of media such as videos and blog posts.

More often than not, your library books will suffice as they are:

  1. Readily available
  2. Have more in-depth knowledge than online resources
  3. You can consult your professor about the books

Once you have enough information to feel satisfied, you can move on to the next step, organizing your data.

  1. Organize Your Information

Now, bear in mind that not all of the information that you gathered in the previous step is actually useful. You have to sift through it to determine what is actually useful for your research and what should be kept in the back seat.

There is one methodology that you can follow to determine what is useful or not. It is called: C.A.R.S.

Credibility, Accuracy, Reasonableness, and Support. This is a checklist that can help researchers find out the quality of a source. Now, not all sources will always tick all the boxes, some of them may miss a few, while others may miss a lot. That’s how you get the variations in quality.

Most of your sources should be high quality according to the C.A.R.S checklist. Do remember that a research paper is supposed to argue a point and you have to use evidence to support your stance. The highest quality sources are much better at supporting your claims.

Once you have organized your information, then you can get started with actually writing your paper.

  1. Create an Outline for Your Paper

Even if you have all the information that you need, you cannot present it in a disordered way. Research papers need to be very orderly so that their readers (in this case your professor) have an easy time reading and understanding them.

Each institute and journal have its own template for writing research papers, so, your outline needs to be in line with yours. If you do not know the template, then you can consult with your professor, or you can look it up on your institute’s website.

The outline will help you in several ways:

  • It will prevent you from going off on a tangent
  • It will serve as a roadmap when you are writing
  • It will allow you to cite your sources properly
  • It will let you work on your paper in short and effective bursts

The outline more often than not gets added to your paper as well as part of the intro. In the intro of your paper, you have to lay out a road map and tell your reader briefly about the sections in your paper and what will be discussed in those sections.

  1. Start Writing Your Paper According to the Guidelines

It is very likely that your professor may have given you additional guidelines about how you need to write your paper. These guidelines can include things like:

  • Maximum and minimum length of your paper
  • A minimum number of required sources
  • Providing data and results in a specific format
  • A restriction on the types and kinds of sources you can use

There can be other very specific requirements as well. So, don’t just start as soon as you are done with your outline. You should always consult with your professor and clear your confusion regarding any guidelines.

Then start writing your paper. At this point, you should have everything you need; a topic, your question or argument, related works, and your own conclusions backed by evidence.

You have to pen down this information in your paper according to the template, and guidelines. But you are not done yet. There is more work to be done after writing a research paper.

  1. Edit Your Paper for Better Readability

At their core, research papers are a medium for imparting knowledge. To impart knowledge without difficulties, it is best to enhance the readability of your paper.

When something is easier to read, it is simultaneously easy to grasp as well. So, you should proofread your draft and edit it for improving its readability.

So, what are some methods of improving readability? To answer that we must know about the factors that affect readability. They are:

  • Grammar
  • Vocabulary
  • Sentence order and structure
  • Sentence and paragraph length
  • Formatting

Let’s see how each factor affects readability and how you can improve by dealing with them.

Grammar is literally the building block of any language. As long as grammar rules are followed, most people can understand what they are reading. But poor grammar can result in reading difficulty. Incorrect punctuation can even distort the meaning of a sentence.

Vocabulary is the set of words that a person uses when writing and speaking. Now, as a college student, your vocabulary may be quite advanced. However, using too many difficult words and technical terms can make it difficult for an ordinary person to understand your work. Of course, this is not a problem for your professor who is your target audience.

Sentence structure and order. The way you write your sentences and the order in which you write them can make your text easier or harder to read. For example; “he was seen by the monster, thus he had to run” is a poorly structured sentence.

It can be written in a better way like “The monster saw him, so he ran”, a much easier read, while still giving the same information.

This is known as paraphrasing, and you can do it yourself. But some people also like to paraphrase online with help of tools when they want to save time.

The length of your write-up is also important when it comes to readability. It is generally harder to read lengthy text compared to shorter text. So, you should make an effort to be concise. Of course, you can take help from online tools as well, but it is best to do it yourself.

Formatting should not be an issue as you are already following a template that is formatted beforehand. Just know that headings and bullets go a long way to improving readability.

  1. Check for Plagiarism

Plagiarism is the one thing that can get you a failing grade and make all your efforts useless. Many universities do not condone plagiarism and levy punishments against offenders.

According to Seattlepi.com, college students in the USA can face any of the following consequences if they get caught plagiarizing:

  • Failing grade in their assignment
  • Failing their entire course
  • Get forced to join training programs that help them deal with plagiarism
  • The worst penalties such as expulsion or revocation of their degree

Apart from the training course “punishment”, the rest can be considered very harsh penalties. They can land a student in serious financial trouble and destroy their future career.

So, never ever resort to plagiarism. It is best to not take the chance at all, and check your work for plagiarism even if you haven’t done it. Sometimes, accidental plagiarism can occur which can result in the same consequences.

There is only one real way of checking for plagiarism and that is to use a plagiarism-checking tool. There are many of them available online that you can use. You can try out the plagiarism checker by Check-plagiarism or Copyscape since they work quite accurately.

This is a type of tool that specializes in finding out similarities between documents and determining which one copied the other.

With the help of such tools, it is possible for humans to find plagiarism in all sorts of write-ups. Of course, if you do find copied content, you need to remove it and make your paper free of plagiarism.

You can do that by either citing the source of the copied content or straight up deleting it (if it does not affect your paper too much).

Conclusion

And that’s it, now your paper is ready for submission. If you have followed these seven steps to the letter, then your paper will be received positively. This can net you a better grade and improve your paper writing skills.