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So, how do you begin to learn how to write a college paper?

❶The American Psychological Association APA produces a style guide that dictates how college students should write and format their papers. You must also be able to effectively communicate your thoughts, ideas, insights, and research findings to others through written words as in a report, an essay, a research or term paper, or through spoken words as in an oral or multimedia presentation with audio-visual aids.

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Ask yourself important questions. Although you may be limited by specific classroom or work related guidelines, choosing your topic is the first and most important step in your research paper project. Regardless of whether your topic can be anything you want or has rigid requirements, it is important to keep a few questions in mind: Is there enough research available on this topic?

Is the topic new and unique enough that I can offer fresh opinions? Pick something you love. Whenever possible, choose a topic that you feel passionate about.

Writing about something you enjoy certainly shows in the final product, making it more likely that you will be successful writing a paper about something you enjoy. If you are writing a research paper for a class, consider the other students. Is it likely that they will also be writing about your topic? How can you keep your paper unique and interesting if everyone is writing about the same thing? Asking a professor for help may seem frightening, but if they are worth anything as a professor, they want you to be successful with your work, and will do what they can to make that happen.

Although it requires a bit more time, you have the ability to change your topic even after you begin researching others. With a topic selected, the next step is to begin research. Research comes in numerous forms including web pages, journal articles, books, encyclopedias, interviews, and blog posts, among others. Take time to look for professional resources who offer valid research and insight into your topic. Try to use a minimum of five sources to vary your information; never rely on only sources.

Look for empirical research. Whenever possible, look for peer-reviewed empirical research. These are articles or books written by experts in your field of interest, whose work has been read and vouched for by other experts in the same field. These can be found in scientific journals or via an online search. Take a trip to your local library or university library.

Although it may seem old fashioned, libraries are chock full of helpful research materials from books to newspapers and magazines to journals. Typically, websites that end with. That is because these websites belong to schools, the government, or organizations dealing with your topic.

Try changing your search query often to find different search results for your topic. There are special search engines and academic databases available that search through thousands of peer-reviewed or scientifically published journals, magazines, and books. Look for databases that cover your subject only.

For example, PsycINFO is an academic database that holds nothing but works done by authors in the field of psychology and sociology. This will help you to get more tailored results than a very general search would. Take advantage of this ability to ask for specific information by using as many of the query boxes as you can. Visit your school library and ask the librarian for a full list of the academic databases they subscribe to, as well as the passwords for each.

Get creative with your research. This should contain many more books and journals that are about your topic as well. This step is very important: Make marks on anything that you think might be remotely important or that could be put to use in your paper.

As you mark off important pieces in the research, add your own commentary and notes explaining to yourself where you might use it in your paper. Writing down your ideas as you have them will make writing your paper much easier and give you something to refer back to. Annotating your research can take quite a bit of time, but needs to be taken one step further in order to add a bit more clarity for the outlining process.

Organize your notes by collecting all of your highlighted phrases and ideas into categories based on topic. For example, if you are writing a paper analyzing a famous work of literature, you could organize your research into a list of notes on the characters, a list of references to certain points in the plot, a list of symbols the author presents, et cetera.

Try writing each quote or item that you marked onto an individual note card. That way, you can rearrange and lay out your cards however you would like. Color code your notes to make it easier. Write down a list of all the notes you are using from each individual resource, and then highlight each category of information in a different color. For example, write everything from a particular book or journal on a single sheet of paper in order to consolidate the notes, and then everything that is related to characters highlight in green, everything related to the plot mark in orange, et cetera.

As you go through your notes, mark down the author, page number, title, and publishing information for each resource. This will come in handy when you craft your bibliography or works cited page later in the game. Identify the goal of the paper. Generally, speaking, there are two types of research paper: Each requires a slightly different focus and writing style which should be identified prior to starting a rough draft. An argumentative research paper takes a position on a contentious issue and argues for one point of view.

The issue should be debatable with a logical counter argument. An analytic research paper offers a fresh look at an important issue. The subject may not be controversial, but you must attempt to persuade your audience that your ideas have merit.

This is not simply a regurgitation of ideas from your research, but an offering of your own unique ideas based on what you have learned through research. Who would be reading this paper, should it be published? Although you want to write for your professor or other superior, it is important that the tone and focus of your paper reflect the audience who will be reading it. The thesis statement is a sentence statement at the beginning of your paper that states the main goal or argument of your paper.

Although you can alter the wording of your thesis statement for the final draft later, coming up with the main goal of your essay must be done in the beginning. All of your body paragraphs and information will revolve around your thesis, so make sure that you are clear on what your thesis is.

What is the primary question or hypothesis that you are going to go about proving in your paper? Other Print Sources Reference List: Electronic Sources Reference List: Organization and Structure Graduate Writing Workshops: Introductions Graduate Writing Workshops: Literature Reviews Graduate Writing Workshops: Style Graduate Writing Workshops: Editing and Proofreading Graduate Writing Workshops: Copyright and Plagiarism Collaborative Authorship Handout: Specificity in Writing Grant Writing: Introduction Grant Writing in the Sciences: Having to Google new information every line-break tends to slow up the process.

Boyd said that getting a jump on research also allows you to check out what the competition has already said on the subject and how you would respond to them. Why is your paper worth reading? You should constantly go back and revise to ensure that your thesis reflects the rest of the paper. Ask your friend, the English major, for edits. Rose said her best students find information and then visualize it in a unique way.

Make an effort to actively engage with your research and adapt it in a way that makes sense to you. Your professor expects proper grammar. Wow him by going the extra mile. Make passive phrases more active and engaging by reviewing your work before clicking submit. Your professor will be more inclined to remember you come grading if your last sentence left him thinking. Spend time priming your paper for the scrutiny of even the strictest professors by utilizing sources such as Purdue OWL.

While valuing such online resources, Boyd said that students best benefit from reaching out to professors, research librarians and campus writing centers. A New Approach to Paper Writing. Avoid a Failed Paper.

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Steps in Writing a Research Paper. A series of steps, starting with developing a research question and working thesis, will lead you through writing a research paper. As you move through these steps and actually create the research paper, you may find that you can't move through all of them in chronological order, and that's o.k.

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In learning how to write a college paper, this is the vital step. Now, I know that this sounds pretty basic but, believe it or not, most college writers never really complete this step. In other words, they kind of try to get away without deciding on the main point.

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Not all papers are created equal. John L. Boyd, Ph.D., the director of Washington College’s Writing Center, explained how every major has unique expectations for student papers. “If you happen to be writing a paper for a sociology class, for instance, think about why a sociologist would be. With any paper you write, feel free to fiddle with your thesis statement as you go along to better reflect the results of your research. Use excellent secondary resources If at all possible, don’t rely heavily on one source when writing a paper at college.

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Many college courses require students to write one or more research papers. Creating an effective and engaging introductory paragraph is one of the keys to writing a successful research essay. The American Psychological Association (APA) produces a style guide that dictates how college students should write and format their papers. Particularly used by students in the social sciences, this useful guide serves as your one-stop shop for all things research-paper-related.