What the first step to writing a research paper is

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A research project is all about writing your opinion on a given topic based on the research done. This academic paper is not a summary of other people’s ideas. Sometimes, it can be daunting to write it for both experienced and new students. The first step to writing a research paper is reading this detailed guide that will help you stay focused and guide you to submitting a successful draft. This type of writing is time consuming, so you can’t just take a few random sources of information and make them work in your essay. It’s impossible to earn high marks if you start writing it only a few hours before your research assignment is due. It takes enough time and effort to do the following:

  • Organize relevant information;
  • Find and evaluate helpful sources;
  • Write a good paper.

The good news is that you can make the entire process less painful, and all you need to do is to follow step-by-step guidelines.

Why you should start early

Many students make a huge mistake because they wait until the last day to start completing their research assignments. In this case, if something goes wrong, you won’t have enough time to fix everything. Start writing your research paper as early as possible because it requires more effort than many other types of academic essays. You should have enough time to take these steps:

  • Outline and write a good draft;
  • Check it for possible errors;
  • Get pointers from instructors on what to fix or improve.

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Starting early will help you get better grades on this assignment, so you should be positive and get the best results.

Reading assignment guidelines carefully

Before you start writing the first draft, read assignment prompts and make sure that you understand them in full. If you have doubts, find answers to questions that come to your mind. What do your instructors want to see in your research paper? Are there any particular elements that must be included? This way, you won’t finish your assignment only to find out that you need to redo it completely.

Brainstorming suitable research topics

Sometimes, students are asked to write research papers where they know exactly what they will write about before getting started. In other cases, you may have no idea what you want to write about and you experience a writer’s block. To overcome and avoid it, use an important skill called brainstorming or mind-mapping. It will help you come up with a suitable topic that is both interesting and relevant to write about in your research paper. Write whatever comes to your mind and connect these ideas to come up with great topics for this academic project in a painless and fast way.

Writing out relevant questions

To end up with the best research, it’s necessary to ask different questions. The key idea is to get to the roots of the subject that you discuss and write a quality paper about it. If you have any suitable questions in your mind, try to break them down because this simple writing strategy will help you achieve the best quality research.

Doing your research

You need to show instructors your excellent research skills, and this task is impossible to complete without reliable sources of information. The problem is that not all available sources are accurate and true, and that’s why you should check them for credibility by determining what, who, and when. Give answers to these questions to use the best sources for your next research paper:

  • Who are the authors of your sources?
  • What are they known for?
  • Do they reference to other sources?
  • Do they have any backgrounds in a particular subject?
  • Are additional sources credible?
  • Are website look professional?
  • Do they really specialize in the chosen subject?
  • When is a specific source generated?
  • Is there any additional or new information provided?

Double-check all the sources that you have this way because your research writing will be meaningless without their support. Keep track of reliable and trusted sources of information. When you find any helpful information, don’t let it go. This means that you need to save its original source and cite it both in your research paper and in its bibliography. No one wants to go back to this process later and start dipping up important information again just to find it source. When it comes to online sources, you have a few options to save them, such as bookmaking web pages. There’s nothing wrong in using a well-written online book or any other source to enrich the content of your essay. There are different options that can be used to get the necessary information when writing it, including:

  • Journals and newspapers;
  • Magazines and books;
  • The Internet and interviews.

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How to evaluate available sources for accuracy

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The first step to writing a research paper is finding the best sources to get information. You also need to evaluate whether they are credible or not by using the so-called CRAAP test, which stands for relevance, currency, accuracy, purpose and authority.

Considering currency

Well-written research papers require only relevant and current information, so you should check all sources for currency and determine when they were updated or written. For example, when writing a research project about any innovative computer technology, you can’t use outdated sources of information because they don’t contain anything about hot trends in this field.

Thinking about relevance

Before using any sources in your research paper, ensure that they contain the information that meets your needs and their content is unique and detailed. For instance, when researching the important role of recycling, you shouldn’t use any facts that aren’t unique or detailed enough to be relevant to the main argument.

Evaluating authority and accuracy

To determine whether sources have any authority, find out if their authors can be trusted. Pay attention to their credentials and backgrounds. Evaluating accuracy is all about identifying if your information is correct, accurate, and reliable. Make sure that you can verify the content, because your research paper will be unreliable if you cite inaccurate sources. Avoid the websites that aren’t written by professionals or if they’re unreliable. If you can’t verify author’s credentials or information in other sources, it’s advisable to avoid using this fact in your written assignment.

Determining a purpose

At this stage, you should determine whether the information you want to use in your research paper is biased or not. Think about its purpose and why a specific source was written. That’s because biased sources usually exist to provide people only with the information that they want them to know, and they fail to provide balanced data.

How to prepare a good research project in easy steps

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Once you gather many credible sources of information, realize the significance of a thesis statement. When you have a working focus and thesis of your research paper, you can read available sources and understand what to search for. Take enough time to read them all carefully and find any information that fits your assignment prompts perfectly. Take notes on all important facts, even if you won’t use them in your paper after all. It’s not required to use each piece of information that you find. When taking notes, use these helpful tips:

  • Choose both unique and interesting information;
  • Search for specific statistics, facts, and anecdotes that can either refute or support a thesis;
  • Keep notes minimal by condensing or paraphrasing ideas;
  • Label and organize all relevant facts.

Taking notes and organizing information can be easier said than done. It’s not a confusing or complicated process. Although taking notes may seem to take too long, but this writing technique will help you save a lot of time in the end. If you need some assistance with organizing information and taking notes, there are some effective methods that can help. Use the note card system to organize and record any useful information about all sources. For example, you can write short comments about each source that you use in a research paper. Use an annotated bibliography to record all sources in the right format. All you have to do is to beneath them, write your brief summary, and evaluate each one.

Creating a thesis and your outline

Creating a strong thesis is something that many students overlook when writing their research papers, and it’s a big mistake. Although a thesis is a part of your outline, it still deserves proper attention because of its important role. It sets the right stage for the entire research project, so you just can’t overlook it. Once you state a thesis, creating the rest of your outline is quite a straightforward process because it mimics its structure.

Writing your research project

At this stage, you know what you will write about in your paper and where you will state interesting ideas and their evidence. This process is much easier and faster than taking a pen, start writing, and hoping for some magical inspiration to come. That’s why a preparation stage is so important, and it’s the first step that you should take to write the best research paper. Pin-point the places where you insert sources or make in-text citations. Use basic tips to submit a great draft:

  • Avoid using the first person;
  • Vary your language because the same word shouldn’t be used a few times in a row;
  • Use strong examples to support any statement you make.

Citing all sources correctly

Check your assignment prompts to determine the right citation style that teachers want you to use in a research paper. Look for helpful instructions and examples on how to use different sources and citation types in the text. As a general rule, all in-text citations need to go after a sentence drawing from a particular source, but before a period of this sentence (in parentheses). If you refer more than a single sentence to the same source of information, place it at one of these sentences. No matter what you cite inside your research paper, all the sources you use must be included in a bibliography. Basically, it’s a separate page that contains their basic information.

Proofreading your research project

Why do you need to proofread your draft? Successful students always read their academic papers a few time aloud to reinforce their ideas and sentences while making it easier to find strange phrases and other mistakes that must be fixed to earn higher marks.

Ask others to read your paper before submitting it. Find people who can provide you with their constructive feedbacks on how to improve its content. Ask them to review your piece of writing because you may not notice some typos and errors.

Basic research paper writing checkpoints

To submit a successful research paper, you need to know how to write it. Consider these basic checkpoints to make this process as simple and fast as possible:

  • Start writing as early as you can;
  • Read all assignment prompts attentively;
  • Brainstorm or mind map interesting research topics;
  • Write out your relevant questions;
  • Do your in-depth research and keep track of all sources;
  • State a thesis;
  • Create an outline;
  • Write and proofread your paper;
  • Cite all sources correctly.

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