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5 Practical Tips on Writing a Great Research Paper – 2024 Guide

College students often fear hearing two words form their professors: research paper. It can be an intimidating task if you don’t know where to start. The following steps will help you to make a plan and overcome this challenge.

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Understand the topic

This seems like an apparent and logical first step. Nonetheless, many students run through this step quickly just to find themselves writing a long research paper on the wrong subject. Take time to go over every instruction your professor gave you and study it thoroughly. Carefully read all suggestions and footnotes until you have a full understanding of what exactly you’re supposed to write about. Taking your own notes along the way might be very helpful too down the line. If you do not understand completely, do not assume it! Ask your teacher again until you’re clear on the issue.

Choose your theme

Now that you know what’s asked of you, it’s time to pick the subject. It’s easier if the topic is something that you like to write about, or that you are familiar with. However, if it doesn’t fit the guidelines you’re given, do not try to adapt it for your paper, but rather pick a different one. Start by thinking about the subject and writing down things that you already know about it. You will fill in the holes later. Even though it looks scary writing about the things you know little about, it can also be a chance to learn something new. When you look at it that way, it might relieve you of some stress.

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Research and organize

Finally, you get to the research step. The first step would be to find resources. This is probably going to involve Googling a lot. Once you find the text that is relevant to your topic, read through, and pay attention to the resources used. Read them too, or at least skim the basics. If you are not sure about the validity of the information, dig deeper, and scour your college database or, again, ask your teacher. A lot of data online might be based on assumptions or myths, so be careful what you put in your paper.

You are bound to find a ton of information online on just about any topic, but how do you sort through all of that information? Read fast, not every word that is, and take notes pulling only the focus points out of the text. This will represent your blueprint. Take as much information as you can, even the ones that you might not use in the final edition. Broaden your knowledge on the topic, so that you can draw logical conclusions and present meaningful analysis. Look at the topic you’re writing about from different perspectives. This will appear your paper look wholesome and thorough. If you find some expert opinion that fits with your work, quote it, and remember to give credit to the author.

Organizing the information is a very important step since you can easily get lost in so many details. Some people are old-school, penning everything down and spread it on the floor, or pinning it on the board. Others make bookmarks on the pages they used as sources, or print them out. Whatever you pick, put the gathered information in order, and make your work easier down the line.

Choose your main focus

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Whether you are trying to prove or disapprove something, you need to make a focus statement of your paper. It’s that one sentence that sums it up. This cannot be your own view, or an assumption on the subject, but rather the main topic of your paper.

When you start to develop this thesis further, then you can add your own opinion backed up by research. Also, be very concrete, not vague, as this can lead to a different interpretation of your main topic. Once again, if not sure, consult your professor or tutor, if you picked the subject that can be built and developed further.

Creating an outline is one more way to help you stay on track. If you are trying to prove one point, then you can have an introduction, three paragraphs, and a conclusion. However, if your paper contains different views on the topic explaining various claims, and quotes from professionals, then you might need at least five to eight paragraphs, not including the introduction and the conclusion. Write a couple of clear, well-organized sentences for each paragraph that give a structure to your essay.

Write and edit

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At last, you reached a point when you can actually start writing. Read over everything you did so far. Go over your bullet points, research, experts’ opinions, outlines, and stay focused on your main subject. Do this several times until you have fully soaked in every piece of information. This will trigger your own inspiration, giving way to incorporate your ideas without plagiarizing others. This is the time when you can add all your personal views, assumptions, and analytic opinions. Clearly express your ideas. This is the part where you can go into details, examining various takes on the topic. Remember, if you quote someone’s opinion you must cite the source, whereas if something is a matter of common knowledge, you can just mention it without worrying about the origin.

Once you’re done writing, it’s time for a touch-up. Go back and read your essay ensuring that you covered every point. If your paper is too long don’t just cut out a paragraph, but rather look for places where you maybe went into too many details, and shorten that one. In case you find your essay to be too short, expand by adding quotes, or maybe developing some bullet points that were only mentioned once or twice. Also, check your grammar. Some things you can do by yourself, but for perfection reach out for some online tools.

Additionally, if this seems daunting, you can always turn to websites like where you will get professionally written papers without worrying about any of the steps. If you are unsure and uncomfortable with writing research papers, the best thing would be to rely on experts for help.

About Suzan Vega