After an in-depth process of research, evaluation of resources, critical thinking, planning, and writing, you come down to a final product that’s called a research paper. This is not a simple extended essay. It’s a much more complex assignment that requires a lot of time and effort to complete.
When students face this type of assignment, it’s only natural for them to feel anxious about completing it. The best way to beat that anxiety is to have a rock-solid plan that will take you to a successful result. When you’re taking actionable steps towards tangible goals, the research paper challenge seems possible to tackle.
Remember: learning how to write research papers in high school will make your life as a college student much easier. You’ll be writing plenty of research papers if you plan to go to college.
We’ll give you a detailed guide of 10 steps to take towards the completion of an argumentative research paper.
- Be Mentally Prepared
Before you start writing this paper, you need to work on your mindset. The research paper is a huge challenge. However, your teacher already covered the topic in general and you do have a foundation of knowledge. You’ll only need to locate relevant information, come up with a thesis statement, and express your arguments in the paper. You can do it!
- Define the Purpose of Your Research Paper
Your teacher gave you guidelines or a research paper question. Now, you need to define your point of view, which you’ll translate in a thesis statement. The guidelines are usually general, so you’ll have to narrow them down.
- Even the most boring topics can be approached from an unusual angle. Find a point that interests you and use it as the foundation of that assignment. If, for example, the general instruction is to write a research paper on global warming, you can pick a narrow theme: how it affects rainforests or an animal you love.
- By the end of this step, you should come up with a thesis statement. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but you should have it as the foundation of every following step.
- Collect Sources
Now, it’s time for the hard work: the research process. You can use only reliable information from books, journal articles, interviews, encyclopedias, and authoritative web pages.
- If you really want to impress your teacher, you should use books. Visit the school library!
- Use Google Scholar to find resources you can use.
- You don’t have to read them all at this point. Just briefly examine them to see if they are relevant to your topic. At the end of this stage, pick at least five sources that you’ll explore in details and you’ll use in the research paper.
- Read, Categorize, and Document the Information
Read them! Take notes on how you plan to use the information from those sources in your paper. How do they support or defy your point of view? Make sure to note down where each idea is coming from.
- Write an Outline with Proper Structure
An outline will keep the discussion organized around the main thesis statement.
- Organize the outline according to your teacher’s instructions. The paper should have an introduction, body, and conclusion.
- Plan what you’ll write in each section of the paper.
- Start Writing the Body Paragraphs
You might think that the introduction is the best place to start, but that’s not true. It’s recommended to start with the body of the research paper. At this point, you have a thesis statement, but you can manipulate it as your ideas progress.
- Start with the body paragraphs and follow the outline, but don’t be afraid to alter it along the way.
- Make clear points and support them with evidence from your sources.
- Write the Conclusion
Now that you’ve exposed your arguments and supported them with evidence, it’s time for the conclusion. This should be a brief summary of your findings. The reader should have a complete impression. Don’t introduce any new ideas here.
- Write the Introduction
Read through your paper. How would you introduce it to someone in few sentences? This is exactly why we positioned the introduction as the 8th step of this guide. Now, you can introduce your arguments in a believable way that gets the attention of your reader.
- Write and Format the Bibliography
It’s important to reference all sources you used. If your teacher didn’t give instructions on proper referencing, you can find and follow the guidelines for APA, MLA, or Chicago styles. Choose the one that’s suitable for the topic’s area of study.
- Edit the Paper
Congratulations! You have your first draft. Now, it’s time to polish it out. Read it thoroughly and improve the logical flow. Don’t hold back to get rid of some parts if they are not necessary. If you feel like you need to add more information, do it at this stage.
Finally, you’ll do a final proofreading and your research paper will be ready to go.
Research paper writing seems easy when you read about it, right? In practice, it’s a complex process that requires full focus. That’s why it’s important to practice and start early. Start today!
Chris Richardson is an editor and a blogger. He is passionate about writing, traveling, and photography. Chris loves to meet new people and talk about modern education and technologies. Read another article by Chris about using technology in the classroom. Follow him on Facebook and Google+.