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If you’re a col­lege stu­dent, you will like­ly write numer­ous research papers in addi­tion to your senior the­sis. You must then mas­ter the basics of writ­ing research papers since these have a sig­nif­i­cant impact on your over­all aca­d­e­m­ic performance! 

In our bach­e­lor’s pro­gram research and writ­ing guide, we offer prac­ti­cal strate­gies for com­plet­ing well-craft­ed col­lege research papers. We under­stand that col­lege stu­dents, whether in their fresh­man year or senior year, can encounter anx­i­ety-induc­ing chal­lenges in their aca­d­e­m­ic writ­ing. These prac­ti­cal strate­gies are intend­ed to decrease the anx­i­ety asso­ci­at­ed with writ­ing aca­d­e­m­ic papers, includ­ing research papers. 

A col­lege research paper is dif­fer­ent from a senior the­sis! Both are types of aca­d­e­m­ic writ­ing. A research paper pro­vides an ana­lyt­i­cal eval­u­a­tion and inter­pre­ta­tion made by its author of a spe­cif­ic top­ic sup­port­ed by research stud­ies and expert opin­ions. A the­sis is a schol­ar­ly research paper that con­tains a propo­si­tion, an argu­ment and evi­dence of the argu­ment, and is usu­al­ly writ­ten as a cul­mi­nat­ing aca­d­e­m­ic require­ment in your senior year. 

Keys to Writing Research Papers in College - fact

While the bach­e­lor’s degree paper writ­ing strate­gies dis­cussed below are specif­i­cal­ly writ­ten for research papers, many can also be applied for writ­ing your senior the­sis and oth­er types of aca­d­e­m­ic writing. 

Understand the Assignment

Every research paper comes with spe­cif­ic instruc­tions regard­ing its top­ic, style and sub­stance, struc­ture and for­mat­ting style, and length. You must read and under­stand the assign­ment before start­ing your research! 

You should also ask: 

  • When is it due?
  • What is the process for sub­mit­ting it?
  • Is it an indi­vid­ual project or a group project? You should know this to sched­ule and assign the tasks. 

If you have clar­i­fi­ca­to­ry ques­tions, you should­n’t hes­i­tate to ask your pro­fes­sor. You will find that the clear­er the instruc­tions from your per­spec­tive, the bet­ter your research paper will like­ly be. 

Create a Schedule

Be sure to take note of the spe­cif­ic dead­line for sub­mis­sion of the research paper on your cal­en­dar or plan­ner. You can then make a SMART — spe­cif­ic, mea­sur­able, attain­able, rel­e­vant and time-bound — sched­ule. Essen­tial­ly, you can break down the large goal — write a good research paper — into small­er tasks that can be done between now and its sub­mis­sion deadline. 

We sug­gest allot­ting at least two days for every step in the research paper writ­ing process. But you must also con­sid­er the time blocks for study­ing your text­books, attend­ing class­es, and par­tic­i­pat­ing in extracur­ric­u­lars when cre­at­ing your research paper-relat­ed schedule. 

Let’s say you have four weeks to sub­mit a research paper. Your week­ly sched­ule can look like the following: 

  • Week 1: Preliminaries 
  • Under­stand the guide­lines, require­ments and deadlines. 
  • Write down your pos­si­ble topics. 
  • Per­form pre­lim­i­nary research on the select­ed topic.
  • Week 2: The­sis and Out­line Devel­op­ment and Research 
  • Define your research ques­tion and make your the­sis statement. 
  • Write the research out­line with an intro­duc­tion, body and conclusion. 
  • Per­form your research. 
  • Weeks 3–4: Writ­ing, Edit­ing and Proofreading 
  • Write a draft based on the outline. 
  • Check for com­pli­ance with the guide­lines relat­ed to struc­ture, style and sub­stance. Con­sid­er cita­tion, pla­gia­rism and grammar.
  • Revise your draft upon edit­ing and proof­read­ing. Ask your peers and pro­fes­sors for feedback. 

Per­form a final read­ing of your research paper before sub­mit­ting it. You may have missed a few errors that you can eas­i­ly fix.

Select and Research Your Topic

Your pro­fes­sor can pro­vide spe­cif­ic top­ics from which you and your class­mates can choose or allow you and your class­mates to choose rel­e­vant top­ics on your own. 

Keep these tips in mind when select­ing a research topic:

  • Choose a top­ic that is based on your inter­ests and intel­lec­tu­al­ly challenging. 
  • Choose a top­ic that is rel­e­vant to your pro­gram course. 
  • Use cur­rent events and trends to research paper more engag­ing and relevant.
  • Keep a unique tone to empha­size originality.

For your research process, fol­low these steps:

  • Use cred­i­ble sources like text­books, peer-reviewed jour­nals, news­pa­pers and dig­i­tal articles.
  • Read and cite your sources prop­er­ly. Don’t just copy-paste.
  • Cre­ate a run­ning doc­u­ment for your data points, cita­tion sources, and poten­tial quo­ta­tions. Use ref­er­ence man­age­ment tools like End­Note and Zotero. 
  • Keep the points orga­nized based on your outline. 

We sug­gest stick­ing to the rel­e­vant sources for your research top­ic instead of being dis­tract­ed by relat­ed top­ics. You will then find it eas­i­er to focus on your research paper and its time­ly completion.

Make a Research Paper Outline

Your research paper out­line ensures a log­i­cal flow of your analy­sis, eval­u­a­tion and con­clu­sion regard­ing your top­ic. There may be a spe­cif­ic style and struc­ture required.

In gen­er­al, stu­dents use this out­line with appro­pri­ate subheadings: 

I. Intro­duc­tion

II. Lit­er­a­ture Review

III. Method­ol­o­gy

IV. Results

V. Dis­cus­sion

VI. Con­clu­sion

VII. Ref­er­ences

VIII. Appen­dices 

Start Writing

Sit down and write your research paper! You will be cre­at­ing a draft at this point, so no edit­ing or proof­read­ing will be required yet. The idea is to flesh out your out­line and the­sis based on your style.

  • Make a com­pelling intro­duc­tion. State a clear research ques­tion and add back­ground details. 
  • Write strong body para­graphs. Focus on a sin­gle argu­ment that sup­ports your the­sis. Use sup­port­ing evi­dence and appro­pri­ate citations.
  • Make a log­i­cal flow and smooth tran­si­tions between para­graphs and head­ings. It will keep your read­ers engaged. 
  • Pro­vide a prop­er analy­sis of your research top­ic and find­ings. State your inter­pre­ta­tions and insights clearly. 
  • Address dis­agree­ments and counterarguments.
  • Make your conclusion.
  • Write the prop­er ref­er­ences and appendices.

If you don’t write or type fast, you can use a dic­ta­tion app.

Edit and Proofread

Your first draft should nev­er be your final sub­mis­sion! You will spot errors in gram­mar, spelling and syn­tax. Edit and proof­read your research paper as many times as possible.

Cer­tain writ­ing apps can make your edit­ing and proof­read­ing faster. AI tools are a great help, but they can­not com­pare with human intel­li­gence and judg­ment. AI isn’t always error-free, so ver­i­fy your data at all times.

Get Feedback and Welcome Criticism

Your mul­ti­ple edits and writ­ing apps do not guar­an­tee 100% accu­ra­cy. A fresh per­spec­tive helps you point out errors and defi­cien­cies in your style, struc­ture, and sub­stance. Before sub­mit­ting, do the following: 

  • Have a class­mate or school­mate read your research paper. 
  • Ask for assis­tance from your col­lege’s writ­ing center.
  • Request your pro­fes­sor or their teach­ing assis­tant for feedback. 

Give these peo­ple suf­fi­cient time to read your research paper. A cou­ple of days to a week should be enough.

After receiv­ing feed­back, per­form your sec­ond round of edit­ing and proof­read­ing while keep­ing the feed­back in mind. 

Learn about Citations, Plagiarism and Use of Resources

These research and writ­ing tips for bach­e­lor’s stu­dents are only a part of the process. Pay atten­tion not only to the struc­ture but also to the sub­stance of your research paper!

By tap­ping into a wide vari­ety of research sources, your research papers will be bet­ter in struc­ture and sub­stance. Look into these resources when­ev­er you’re writ­ing aca­d­e­m­ic papers, both for infor­ma­tion and guidance. 

  • Phys­i­cal and dig­i­tal library cat­a­logs includ­ing col­lege libraries, Project Guten­berg, and the Dig­i­tal Pub­lic Library of America
  • Gov­ern­ment or insti­tu­tion­al websites 
  • Peer-reviewed arti­cles and journals
  • Pro­fes­sion­al soci­eties or associations 
  • Pub­lic Library of Sci­ence and oth­er open-access journals
  • Pur­due OWL and oth­er online writ­ing guides
  • Google Schol­ar, PubMed, and Web of Science

There’s no greater crime in writ­ing papers in bach­e­lor’s degree pro­grams than copy­ing your sources word-for-word! Be mind­ful of cita­tions and pla­gia­rism. Always prac­tice aca­d­e­m­ic integrity!

Keep these tips in mind:

  • Under­stand the dif­fer­ent cita­tion styles Chica­go, MLA, APA and Harvard. 
  • Use cita­tion man­age­ment tools like End­note and Zotero.
  • Use quo­ta­tion marks for quot­ing sources. Include a com­plete citation.
  • Express ideas using your own words but cite your sources.
  • Make a bibliography,
  • Use pla­gia­rism detec­tion software.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a good college research paper?

Learn the right strate­gies and go from there! Fun­da­men­tal­ly, a good research paper should be prop­er­ly researched. It should be free from the basic errors. You need to cite your sources accurately.

What are the steps of writing a research paper?

Start by under­stand­ing the assign­ment and then choos­ing your top­ic, cre­at­ing an out­line, and per­form­ing research, as men­tioned above. You can start writ­ing once your research sources are complete. 

What are important tips for writing a research paper title?

Many things make up a well-craft­ed research title. Here’s how you make one:

  • Be clear and con­cise in your use of words. Research papers are usu­al­ly for­mal and objec­tive. Write accordingly. 
  • Use rel­e­vant key­words, espe­cial­ly if you’re writ­ing for pub­li­ca­tion in online databases.
  • Be spe­cif­ic in your choice of title and headings.
  • Con­sid­er your audi­ence and the ter­mi­nol­o­gy used by the field.
  • Fol­low guide­lines includ­ing cita­tions, struc­ture and num­ber of pages.

How can I make my research strong?

A strong research boils down to these to-dos:

  • For­mu­late a clear research question.
  • Per­form a com­pre­hen­sive lit­er­a­ture review. 
  • Ver­i­fy the accu­ra­cy and qual­i­ty of the data you gather.
  • Use accept­ed methodologies.
  • Make a robust analy­sis of your findings.
  • Devel­op a defin­i­tive conclusion.

What should I know before writing a research paper?

As a col­lege stu­dent, you should view aca­d­e­m­ic writ­ing with the right mind­set. Writ­ing a research paper demands plen­ty of time and ener­gy, so make sure to take your time mak­ing one. Explore the right top­ics and find ways to enhance your writ­ing skills. A research paper can be tedious, but with the right process, you will fin­ish strong and in no time.

Make an excel­lent research paper that you can make a ref­er­ence to through­out your career and in pur­su­ing grad­u­ate degrees. By earn­ing aca­d­e­m­ic papers in bach­e­lor’s pro­grams now, you’re paving the way for your pro­fes­sion­al suc­cess in the future!

Sources:

Col­lege Raptor 

Uni­ver­si­ty of Minnesota