Writing a Research Paper. a. It is a written document primarily used in academic settings.

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1 Online Writing Center, Darton State College 1 Writing a Research Paper What is a research paper? a. It is a written document primarily used in academic settings. b. It is a document that is used to present and argue a point (See more information on argumentation/persuasion in the Online Writing Lab s Composition section. ) c. To argue means making and defending a statement. d. Arguments are opinions that can be challenged. e. Arguments have to be supported by credible information borrowed from: i. Personal experience (use sparingly and leave it out from formal academic papers). ii. Experts opinions and academic findings. iii. Facts and statistics. Step 1: Find a topic (if not provided for you): a. that you enjoy reading/writing about. b. for which you can find reliable/credible researchable information. c. that can use to teach your reader something new. d. your reader will not find trivial. e. you can argue/defend. Step 2: Determine what you will discuss in each body paragraph. Step 3: Create a thesis statement (see additional information about the thesis in the Online Writer Center s Composition section): a. A thesis statement is the central point you will state and defend (argue). b. Without a thesis statement, no academic paper can be effective.

2 Online Writing Center, Darton State College 2 c. The thesis statement has to be argumentative. d. It has to limit the scope of your assignment; it cannot be too broad or too narrow. Step 4: Identify research sources: a. Find sources that give you more information. b. Find sources that agree with your side of the argument. c. Find sources that disagree with your side of the argument. d. Evaluate the sources for reliability: i. The author is credentialed in the field you are researching. ii. The author s information fits in with the general knowledge of the subject. iii. The author s argument is presented logically and without bias. iv. The author is listing his or her sources clearly and accurately. v. The author s sources are current. vi. The publisher and/or the sponsoring organization of the source is respected in the field. (MLA Handbook 38) Step 5: Incorporate the information into your paper: a. Summarize, paraphrase, and quote pieces of information. b. Use all three modes to avoid excessive quotation. c. Be original by including original thoughts. d. Cite all your sources to avoid plagiarizing. Step 6: Organize the information: a. Create an effective title b. Create an introduction that i. Introduces and orients your reader to the topic.

3 Online Writing Center, Darton State College 3 ii. Awakens the reader s attention. iii. Introduces the central point (thesis). c. Create body paragraphs that i. begin with topic sentences. ii. offer adequate support for the argument. iii. concludes with an effective closing/transitioning sentence. iv. include refutations. d. Create a conclusion that i. reiterates the thesis statement ii. summarizes key points iii. offers a satisfactory end to the discussion. Step 7: Cite your sources (this should be ongoing as you write): a. Insert citations after all borrowed material, as dictated by your particular citation format. (Check with your instructor what is required in your class.) b. Create a citation page (Works Cited in MLA or References in APA) and list all sources you inserted in the text. Step 8: Edit as needed: a. Rearrange information to ensure the smooth flow of ideas. b. Add missing information to complete your argument. c. Delete superfluous, repeated information. d. Rewrite the thesis if your paper has taken a slightly different direction. Step 9: Proofread to ensure that a. your paper is free of grammar, punctuation, and style errors.

4 Online Writing Center, Darton State College 4 b. your paper is academic in tone. c. there are no slang words, euphemisms, clichés, contractions, etc. Step 10: Format the entire document according to your instructor s specifications. Step 11. Reread one more time: Now that you think you are ready to submit your paper, put it aside for a while and let it rest. Then, reread it one more time. This time, read your paper out loud and read it unnaturally slowly. These methods will help you identify more errors.

5 Online Writing Center, Darton State College 5 Work Cited MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 7 th ed. New York: MLA, 2009.

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