Writing a research paper can be one of the most intimidating assignments as a university student. Whether you are writing your first assignment at the university level or trying to impress a trusted professor, there is so much pressure to succeed. Besides writing, you also need to thoroughly research your topic and craft an engaging, well-supported argument.
Here are a few tips that can help you ace your research paper.
- Choose a Topic That You’re Interested in
This seems like a no-brainer but choosing a topic that you are actually interested in goes a long way to make the writing process less painful. You will spend a lot of time reading, thinking, and writing about this topic, so if you are not interested in it, the process will be a painful slog indeed. Connect to something that you are interested in; for example, if you are taking a course that doesn’t interest you at all, try to find common ground with your professor.
Your topic should also have enough material for you to draft a whole research paper. Don’t choose a topic that you find interesting but only has one journal article written about it.
- Check the Citations to Find More Sources
Once you pick your topic, the next step is to gather your information. With an entire academic library and countless databases at your disposal, it can be difficult to know what to search for. An easy way to find more sources is to find one article or book that deals with your topic and look at the works that it cites. A tool such as Google Scholar can also find papers that cite your starting article to see more recent additions to the canon.
Although professors say not to use Wikipedia, looking in the citations for a Wikipedia article on your topic can help you find academic sources on the same subject.
- Craft Your Argument After Researching
When you start the research paper process, you probably already know what you want to argue. However, don’t be too set on your initial argument because you don’t want to back yourself into a corner and spend pages arguing a position without any actual evidence.
Once you gather enough research, then you can sit down and craft an argument. You can do additional research later on to find specific points of evidence to support your thesis, but it’s better to do the bulk of your research before coming up with an overarching thesis.
- Cite as You Go
There’s no worse feeling than thinking that you are finished with your research paper, only to realize that you still have to insert your citations and bibliography. To prevent the last-minute scramble, cite as you go.
When you are reading your research material, pull quotes that you think might help your argument and note where you found them. You can do this in an analog note-taking format or by using an online tool. Citation managers such as Zotero help you store citations, generate bibliographies, and ensure that your format follows the guidelines given to you by your professor.
- When You Get Stuck, Switch up Your Method
No matter how experienced you are at writing research papers, you will probably hit a point when you feel stuck. No matter how much you stare at your document, you don’t know how to proceed.
A change of scenery and of writing style can help you dislodge the mental block. Talk to a friend and explain your thesis and supporting arguments. Even if your friend has no idea what you’re talking about, just the act of saying it out loud can help. Or try writing out your arguments on a whiteboard to see them blown up in a different format.
Sometimes, what you really need is a change of scenery. Take a break from your research paper and go for a walk or see friends. As your brain rests, it also works in the background to solve your problems.
- Hire an Essay Writing Service
Even the best writers and academics sometimes need help to meet their deadlines. If you just don’t have the capacity to complete your own research paper from scratch, an essay writing service can help you with that assignment. Whether you need something as minute as proofreading or the whole research paper done from scratch, the professional writers and academics at an online service can help you ace your paper.
Research papers are some of the most intimidating assignments that university students can get, but breaking the assignment into manageable chunks, following these tips, and getting help when you need it can help you ace them anyway.