Starting a research paper can be intimidating for students of all levels. The difficulty comes from the necessity of choosing a topic, looking for supporting research, and crafting an outline. Students today are more comfortable writing their opinions without any support, so the task of writing an organized researched-based project is difficult. Here is how to get started:
Pick a topic: There is no need to think too hard about a topic, because the Internet is full of research paper topic ideas. Many of the topics are broken down into academic levels. So if you need a topic for an undergraduate research paper, you can search for exactly what you need without having to sift through research paper topics designed for high school students.
Develop an opinion on the topic: This is where many students have difficulty, because they have to come up with an opinion statement they need to support. One helpful thing to do is to ask the question, “So what?” because that question will get you thinking why you care about that topic enough to pick it. Write down a few answers to the question and then pick the one you would like to know more about and prove with actual research.
Conduct a preliminary search: If you have a topic and an opinion, then you should look around to see if you can actually support that statement. Your preliminary search should be rather quick and take less than an hour. You can copy and paste URLs that you want to look at later, but you are really just looking for titles, abstracts, and summaries that will give you support for your topic. If you find that there is nothing that you can use, then you will need to change your opinion statement into something that can be supported. If you find that the opinion you chose has been overused, then you might want to find something more unique.
Create a rough outline: You should have a final destination before you set out on a road trip, and you should have an outline before you set out to write a research paper. Obviously you will begin with an introduction and end with a conclusion, so your research paper outline will need the body paragraphs organized. Most people organize from most important argument to least important, or vice versa. Once the outline is finished, start to research and then write the rough draft.
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