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Where do I Begin?

Summary:

This handout provides detailed information about how to write research papers including discussing research papers as a genre, choosing topics, and finding sources.

Contributors:Jack Raymond Baker, Allen Brizee
Last Edited: 2013-10-07 01:54:19

Where do I begin?

There is neither template nor shortcut for writing a research paper; again, the process is, amongst other things, one of practice, experience, and organization, and begins with the student properly understanding the assignment at hand.

As many college students know, the writer may find himself composing three quite different research papers for three quite different courses all at the same time in a single semester. Each of these papers may have varying page lengths, guidelines, and expectations.

Therefore, in order for a student to become an experienced researcher and writer, she must not only pay particular attention to the genre, topic, and audience, but must also become skilled in researching, outlining, drafting, and revising.

Research

For a discussion of where to begin one's research, see Research: Overview.

Outlining

Outlining is an integral part of the process of writing. For a detailed discussion see Developing an Outline .

Drafting

Drafting is one of the last stages in the process of writing a research paper. No drafting should take place without a research question or thesis statement; otherwise, the student will find himself writing without a purpose or direction. Think of the research question or thesis statement as a compass. The research the student has completed is a vast sea of information through which he must navigate; without a compass, the student will be tossed aimlessly about by the waves of sources. In the end, he might discover the Americas (though the journey will be much longer than needed), or—and what is more likely—he will sink.

For some helpful ideas concerning the initial stages of writing, see Starting the Writing Process .

Revising, Editing, Proofreading

Revising is the process consisting of:

Editing is a process interested in the general appearance of a text, and includes the following:

This process is best completed toward the final stages of the project, since much of what is written early on is bound to change anyway.

Proofreading is the final stage in the writing process, and consists of a detailed final reread in order to find any mistakes that may have been overlooked in the previous revisions.

For a discussion of proofreading, see Proofreading Your Writing .

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