- By Daniel Millions
- Published 08/14/2008
So you have been asked to write a research paper, but you are unsure on how to start or what is expected of you. Fear not, there is plenty of advice available to help you understand this and to guide you along the way. Once you are aware of the steps needed then writing the proposal will not seem as daunting as before. Read on to find out why you need to plan your work carefully and the importance of proof reading. The first thing that you should do before anything else is to plan your time in advance. Time management skills are vital in any sphere of life and so it is a good idea to get into good habits as soon as possible. Ideally for an average research paper of 15-20 pages you should give yourself a month to complete the whole process. No doubt you will have other commitments beside the paper so you need to factor in when you will definitely not be able to work on the paper as much as the time when you can. Try to plan the project so that you aim to complete the paper one week before it is due. This is a fail safe method that will allow for any last minute problems and ensure that the work is not affected by any last minute rush. Now on to the research paper itself. You can begin by writing down a research hypothesis. This does not need to be anything more than a few sentences, but should address a particular problem or issue and specifically ask a question that will be answered eventually by the research.
Once this is done and yo
u have a clearer idea of what your research intends to do, it is time to visit the library. At this stage you should thoroughly research the topic, reading and developing a good understanding of the background to the problem, the various arguments and positions on the problem and any other relevant material. It is important that as you carry out your research you methodically record what materials you have read and plan to use in the research paper. This is good practice, but it will also make the writing of the research paper much easier later on. It will also form the basis of your bibliography. The next stage is to write an outline of the research paper. Begin with the introduction by expanding upon your initial hypothesis and then outline the key points to the paper. Examples might be the background to the problem, the key arguments for and against and then reasons for further research. Now that you have the outline and the research is done you can begin the most important part of the process, the writing. Follow the outline and allow yourself to freely write a rough draft of the paper. Do not worry about errors and inaccuracies at this stage as they are easy to correct later.
When this is complete you can begin the proof reading stage. It is a good idea to ask someone else to read through it as other people so often see things that we ourselves miss, but you can do this yourself also. Carefully read through the paper looking for any spelling and grammatically errors. You can also do some fact checking and generally tidy the paper up so that it is ready for submission.