Research Paper StepsCarefully defining your research question as well as implementing and conducting research are absolutely critical to a good research paper. If you follow the suggestions for each step of the research process carefully and thoughtfully, you’ll understand the process of research much better and create a stronger end product than if you simply open your laptop and begin writing your research paper.
Research Paper Timeline
Patience is critical to constructing and finishing a solid research paper. Give yourself time. In some cases, when you have a class project, a college research paper requires ten to fourteen weeks of work, but you may take a course requiring a research paper in a shorter time frame. Click below to view the timeline for research papers over the course of eight weeks. Please note that some research papers are written in an even shorter time frame. If that’s the case for you, you’ll want to adjust your schedule accordingly. Remember, even if you have a shorter time frame, you should not leave out the steps of a good process!
Types of Research Papers
Most research assignments ask you to engage in one of two approaches:
Explore and evaluate (present an analysis)
Persuade (present an argument)
The interaction below will give you more information about each type. Your professor may allow you to choose between these strategies or may ask you to use only one. If you’re not sure which type you should use, be sure to ask!
In the video cast below, you’ll see a student writer exploring her research paper assignment as the first step in her research writing process. Using the sample assignment you see presented in this video cast, you’ll be taken through the entire research and writing process with a video cast for each step as you progress through the Research & Citations area of the Online Writing Lab. Each time you see the student sample, you’ll be asked to do the same step with your own research assignment.
Time to Write
Now that you have had a chance to see how you should carefully consider your assignment requirements, take some time to read and think about your own research essay assignment. What are your key requirements? How many sources do you have to include? What topic requirements are included?
If your professor has provided a detailed assignment form, take some notes and try putting the assignment requirements in your own words to help you make sense of the details. It can also be helpful to start a research / writing journal right now. You can start with notes on your assignment, but your journal will be a helpful tool throughout your research and writing process. Remember, this is also a good time to ask questions. If you’re unsure about any of the requirements, now is the time to ask your professor, and your classmates can be great resources as well. You’re about to begin an important journey of discovery and writing. It’s really pretty exciting!
The example we’ll use to demonstrate a narrowing process will be World War II. Suppose you want to write your research paper on World War II. The material written on World War II has filled whole libraries, so you obviously won’t be able to complete a research paper on all of WWII in just eight or ten weeks. Click on the interaction below to see how you might narrow a topic like World War II.