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Research Paper Skills

Following these tips can help you write your research paper with confidence and little stress

  • Understand your assignment. Read the assignment description carefully. Listen to the professor's explanation. Ask questions for clarification. If there isn't an explanation in class, ask your professor questions in person or through email. Understand the format (MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.) you must follow. Ask if you find the format is not clear.

  • Develop your topic. Conduct basic research and use appropriate source materials. Vary your sources  - include newspaper, magazine, and academic journal articles, books, scholarly papers, websites, professional presentations, films, documentaries, personal interviews, etc. Find all the information you can on the source. (Just listing a website's URL is not enough.) Use recent sources. Be objective and consider the source of your research.

  • Create an outline. Put your research and arguments in a logical order. Remember to include an introduction, research and background information, original arguments (if it is required for the assigment), discussion, and conclusion.

  • Develop your bibliography. Organize your research in alphabetical order. Follow format guidelines. Use this as a guide in writing your paper.

  • Write your first draft! Combine your research, information you learned in class and original arguments and compose your first draft. Insert quotes, citations, referrences and footnotes when appropriate. Read what you wrote, edit, and revise. Ask others to read your paper. Ask your professor for input. Include your bibliography in your first draft.

  • Print your final draft: Edit and re-edit your previous draft as needed. Include revisions from peers and your professor. Print your final draft before the due date, and look it over once more for typos, misspellings, or embarrassing errors.

Mistakes to avoid

  • Poor organization makes your paper difficult to read and uninteresting to your audience. Make your points flow in a logical order. Paragraph transitions should be smooth and clear. Read your sentences outloud to yourself and others.

  • Poor support for the thesis. Simply stating information does not persuade or introduce new ideas. State your thesis, or main argument, and create a strong case for your argument. Create your paper around your thesis with plenty of information backing your position.

  • Little or no use of research. Leaving out previous research results can potentially weaken your thesis. Reference research throughout your paper.

  • Poor citation of sources: You may lose points if you incorrectly cite sources. Double check that your quotes, citations, footnotes, and references are appropriately labeled and organized. Consult format guides for more information. Be sure to correctly site arguments that are not your own.


Wellness Tip:

                                                                                                                                                         Try to sneak exercise into your daily routines.

                                                                                      Walk throughout the day - take short walking trips often rather than taking care of all errands at once.

If you have an hour lunch break, sit and relax for 30 minutes, and spend the rest of your time walking or doing short exercises. Avoid the elevator. Take the stairs.