Tips You Should Use To Complete A Research Paper Successfully

When you are tasked with writing a research paper, it can become confusing really fast. Unlike regular papers where you can use the main text or even just your own opinions and evidence, a research paper is graded on how well you researched your topic, and how well you integrates and analyzed the information you found. Here are a few tips that will lead to a successful research paper!

  • Find multiple sources.
  • When you are assigned a research paper, the more sources you provide, the better. Unless your teacher says otherwise, three is the minimum, five is about average, and seven or more is great. The more research you can find to support your thesis, the stronger it is!

  • Keep your sources organized.
  • Nothing’s worse than remembering a perfect quote for your essay and then not know where you read it. Keep your sources neat and organized, and keep everything – even if you’re not sure you’ll use it. You can use post-its or highlighters to keep everything organized and easy to find. Make notes of where you found information online so you can cite it properly later on. You already did the work of finding your sources once; if you stay organized, you won’t have to do it again!

  • Make sure your sources are valid.
  • You’ll want to make sure that all your sources come from legitimate places. Wikipedia and many online websites are not good sources; anyone can say anything on the internet, so there’s no way to know if it’s true! Books and scholarly articles are typically your best bet; you can use information from the internet if it comes from websites ending in .gov, .edu, or .info. You can also use sources from the internet if you can provide multiple other sources that support what it says.

  • Integrate your quotes properly.
  • There’s nothing more confusing in a paper than a quote that just sits in the middle of the paper by itself. If you are quoting a source, always provide an introduction to the quote. You can say something like, “According to Jay and Stein,” or “As Plath wrote in her diary,”. If you’re using multiple quotes from the same source, get creative with the way you mold the quotes into your paper. Once you’ve quoted once source multiple times in a row, you don’t need to repeat who said it (unless you quoted someone else in the middle), but still write the quote as part of a larger sentence.

  • Don’t just repeat the information.
  • Your research paper is half about finding and reading your sources, and half is proving that you understand what you’ve read and what it means. Don’t just spout facts from the book. There should be about a 2:1 or 3:1 ratio of your analysis to concrete fact. That means, for every quote or piece of data you use in your paper, you should spend 2 to 3 sentences explaining what it means and how it relates to the thesis.

  • Make sure you cite correctly.
  • If there’s one thing you absolutely must do in a research paper, it’s properly citing your sources. Ask your teacher what format they want their citations in; they may say MLA or APA, or a number of other formats. There are a plethora of resources that will help you learn how to make citations, and there are even websites where you can plug in information and they will create the citation for you. Cite every source; nothing will lower your grade faster than not citing someone else’s work, and it may even lead to expulsion!