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Research PapersWriting a research paper can be something you enjoy! It really is no different from reading. You probably do enjoy reading about topics that interest you, and you might even want to type some notes while you read. With some practice, research writing becomes just as easy as reading. In fact, professional writers usually take notes while they read about topics that interest them, and these notes can easily be polished into a perfect research paper.

Search by Keyword and Find Five Articles

Search your school library or some other database of professional journal articles. Search for the keywords associated with your topic. To “research” a topic sounds like hard work, but you will research many topics over the years simply because you will want to do it. Just last night, I was searching for professional peer-reviewed journal articles about EAR INFECTIONS! Why? Because my friend had a bad earache. It did not feel like work, because I wanted to do it. So I challenge you: Can you get yourself to become interested in any topic and take some notes on it?

Every time you find an article, open it in a new browser tab. Skim through the introduction to see if it is easy to understand and interesting. If not, get rid of it. Skim through the articles until you find ONE article that actually catches your interest. Here is a secret: Even if you are required to write a research paper on a topic you don’t like, you can always find an article that will catch your interest. The author’s inspiration will inspire you!

That’s what happened to me last night with my earache research. : -) I found one article by a physician who was very interested in ear pain and very excited about how she had learned to help alleviate people’s pain. I was not interested in the topic at first, but I became interested because of her excellent article. You can become interested in your topic, too. Any topic.

Organize Your Research

Before you even start the research process, form a research question. Look at your research question, and see if you can find an answer to the question. Where will you find the answer? Find it in the article that captures your interest and inspires you! What is the main idea of the article that caught your interest and made you feel that chill of inspiration? How does that author answer the question? Can you write a sentence about the main idea/message of this first article?

If you can write that sentence, let it be the first sentence of a paragraph. This is called the “paragraph topic sentence” and it gives the main idea of one of the “body paragraphs” of your research paper. This body paragraph (i.e. a paragraph within the body of the paper) is going to be all about the article that caught your interest. Write that paragraph, include a quote or example, and write a few sentences to explain the message of the article. Cite the article in MLA, APA, or whatever citation style you are using.

Now, repeat the process with a new article! Choose another article, and write a sentence about the main idea. Let that be the first sentence of ANOTHER body paragraph. Use examples from the paragraph, maybe a quote and some elaboration/reflection on the ideas. Soon, you will have your second body paragraph. It’s easy. It’s just like when you watch a film and then tell a friend about it. A paragraph might include 4-6 sentences, and with these sentences you will explain the ideas, the message sent by the article’s author.

Write Your First Draft, and Do Not Write an Introduction Yet.

Every time you read an article, find the main idea and express it in a sentence. You can usually find the main idea of an article by looking in the introduction, and you can ALWAYS find it if the article has an abstract. That sentence will always become the first sentence of a body paragraph (this is the “paragraph topic sentence”) in your research paper. Then, you will use the rest of that body paragraph to explain this main idea, this message sent by the author of the article. Soon, you will have your first draft of the essay, and it will not include an introduction paragraph or a conclusion paragraph.

You’ll just have a nice collection of paragraphs, and each paragraph will be about a different article. More specifically, it will be about the MESSAGE of the article, that main idea. Sometimes, you will even be able to write two paragraphs about the same article. This is possible if it is a great article that offers more than one idea.

When you look at the collection of body paragraphs, you will see that each paragraph expresses one main idea. What if some of the ideas contradict the others? What if some of the ideas are related to the others? You will notice RELATIONSHIPS among these ideas. For example, last night I found many ideas about how to alleviate ear pain. Some of the articles actually gave ideas that contradicted the ideas of other articles. One article said antibiotics are very important, and another article said antibiotics are to be avoided! If you see that some of the articles contradict other articles, that gives you a great way to make your research paper interesting. Write about the way they support or contradict one another.

Review Your Draft and Write the Introduction

After the first draft, check the ideas (i.e. paragraph topic sentences, the first sentence of every paragraph) against the research question again. When you are sure the research question is answered with good ideas, examples, and evidence, it’s time to write the introduction. Yes, you have written all these body paragraphs, but there is no introduction paragraph yet!

Of course not. How can you write an introduction paragraph before you have something to introduce? When I was in high school, I had a teacher who told me I should come up with an introduction paragraph with a thesis statement before I write the body paragraphs. That teacher was wrong. He had a misconception. Think about it: If you were about to go on stage in front of an audience, would you want to be introduced by a person who did not know you? No, you want the person to get to know what you are all about before introducing you.

So do the same for your thesis statement. Get to know all the ideas expressed in the paragraphs you have collected, and you will FINALLY know your own thesis statement. You spent all this time exploring the main ideas of articles, the messages sent by the authors of these articles, and by doing that you have earned the right to express your own idea. Your whole research paper will end up being about one main idea – your own message.

Write an introduction paragraph that captures the reader’s attention. Use the inspiration you have borrowed from the great articles you cited in your body paragraphs. Begin the introduction paragraph by saying something unexpected, something that may incite curiosity and interest. Then, end your introduction paragraph with a thesis statement that expresses the main idea of your research paper.

Refine Your Paper, and Write the Conclusion

Look at the thesis statement you wrote at the end of your first paragraph. Now that your own main idea, your thesis statement, the MESSAGE of your paper, has come into focus, you are ready to add a sentence to the beginning of each body paragraph OR change the sentence that begins each body paragraph. Why? Because you need to make sure every body paragraph in your paper “supports” your thesis statement.

- The thesis statement at the end of your first paragraph tells the main idea of your whole paper.

- The first sentence of each body paragraph (the “paragraph topic sentence”) expresses an idea that supports your thesis statement.

When you have a final draft, you can test it like this:

1. Read your thesis statement from the introduction paragraph aloud.

2. Read the first sentence of the first body paragraph aloud.

3. Read the first sentence of the second body paragraph aloud.

4. Continue this way, and see how it sounds when you read your thesis statement and then support & explain it by reading the first sentence of each paragraph. If it makes sense, and the first sentence of each body paragraph helps to explain your thesis statement, it means your paper has good structure.

If the paper has good structure, you are ready to write the conclusion paragraph. I am not going to tell you how to do that. The conclusion is all your own. It is the part where you re-explain the main idea (the idea expressed in the thesis statement) in a different way, and then “add something extra,” an extra thought for the reader to take away from the reading. You can do this in any way you like, because you wrote the whole paper with strong support/citation of professional journal articles, and now the conclusion is your own reflection on the message expressed in your paper.

If some of this is hard to understand, it’s okay to ask for a demonstration by a professional. You can explain your topic and order a model paper that will demonstrate EXACTLY how to use the method described on this paper. The professional academic writers have successfully completed their degree programs, so they know how to write with excellent structure and perfect grammar, citing strong sources (i.e. peer-reviewed professional journal articles). This is what professional academic writers do every day, and they enjoy helping students like you become masters of the art of research writing.

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