Sunday, September 2, 2012

How To Write Your Research Paper In 3 Easy Steps

Cover of "How to Write"
Cover of How to Write
by Robert Lowndrey

Writing research papers for English Composition, Literature or any other class isn't hard, but it can be a daunting process.

Sometimes if feels as if you have an endless amount of tasks you have to complete before you hand your paper in. The biggest of these tasks is writing; the process of sitting down and having to present your ideas in the best possible way.

It really just involves using a simple, 3-step process which I'm going to share with you.

Write an Outline

I suspect a large portion of my readers are tired of me wailing on about outlines. I'm a big believer in outlines. If you can establish 90% of your ideas in an outline before writing your paper, writing becomes trivial. Why? Because writing essentially involves two different thought processes:

1. Laying out the logic and reasoning of your arguments.
2. Articulating your sentences to the reader.

Can you see where these two might be counterproductive to one another? If you've ever been writing a research paper and gotten stuck because you realized one of your points was weak or didn't even make sense, you've been a victim to this trap.

Separate your reasoning from its presentation. Work through your ideas beforehand, conduct effective research, and most of the battle is over. Put all of that hard work into your outline and you've essentially written your paper, even though you haven't written it yet.

Plan Your Writing Time

You know your schedule for the most part. Instead of waiting for the anxious wave to come over you to begin writing, allot short amounts of time each day before the due date. I've found just 20-30 minutes works best for most students.

That doesn't mean you should sit down and write for 30 minutes straight. Instead, take breaks between your writing blocks, say every 5-10 minutes or so, and look over what you've accomplished. In order for this to work, it's crucial you have your outline handy. Write out the core arguments from your outline and mold them into shape.

Don't forget to take breaks. Between your short writing segments you should relax, prop your feet up, have some tea and even engage in things that are fun.

Editing Your Paper For The Highest Grade

Editing isn't hard but most student writers ignore it, to their detriment. I think the reason is that the gear switching from writing to editing can be difficult. While writing can be a sort of gauntlet, editing is more like refining a dance. It comes in two phases:

First, check all punctuation and grammatical errors. This is the kind of technical editing most students don't forget. This is a trivial matter
Second, and this is the most important part, is editing your presentation. You've got all of your ideas down on paper, can they be improved? Can they be optimized or refined in any way?

More important is how your arguments flow with one another. Does the transformation of your thesis flow from one paragraph to the next? Do you finish your analysis with a conclusion that leaves the reader considering your view of the topic?

Editing has many facets, but if you can answer "yes" to these questions, you know you're at least on the right track. Thanks for reading! Robert Lowndrey.

Visit Student Writing Guides to learn the simple 5 step method you can use to ace all of your writing courses and write 'A' research papers. You'll receive my free report How To Write 'A' Research Papers In 5 Easy Steps and 3-part email series The 3 Skills Needed To Write Great Research Papers, over a $20 value, yours free. Visit Student Writing Guides and join hundreds of other successful students today!

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