The majority of students in college are not English majors, want nothing to do with writing papers and feel like running away screaming when they have to do just that. Colleges and universities around the West Virginia and tri-state area are kicking off fall semester of 2013, and there will be many research papers to come.
Here is the simplest formula to completing any research paper:
1. A professor will give guidelines, topics or a question. Come up with a hypothesis (an opinion) based off the assignment.
- Decide what the research is about: A research paper about the color of the sky.
- Come up with a hypothesis (opinion or thought): The sky is not really blue.
- Come up with reasons to support the hypothesis. This is where using a search engine to search your hypothesis is handy. Search for support and research at any library, the college or university library webpage, Google Scholar, JSTOR and WebLens.
- Write the hypothesis with support from the research: Many think the color of the sky is blue, however, this is debatable because of interpretation, the sun’s effect, atmospheric gases, distance and the form of the sky.
2. Find four or five reasons that support the hypothesis. In a true research paper, real resources (books, online articles, websites ending in .edu or .org, journals, etc.) must be used to find and support these reasons. This means most professors only accept scholarly research and that does not include wikipedia or just any unreliable website. The best resources, like West Virginia's Marshall University Article Databases, can often be found on your own college or university website.
EXAMPLE: Five reasons the sky is not blue.
- Color may not be seen the same from person to person.
- The effect of the sun distorts the sky’s true color.
- The gases in the atmosphere distort the sky’s appearance.
- The distance of the sky alters its appearance.
- The sky is not a solid object in which a color can be validated.
Have resources that somehow relate or back-up each reason. There doesn't always need to be one resource for each reason. One resource can contain information about two or three different reasons.
Use each reason as a paragraph and explain why this reason is valid, how it’s valid (by citing sources covered in step four) and any extra information or data pertaining to the reason. If the research paper needs to be longer, try adding more data or reasons.
4. Incorporate where the information and research was found by using citations.
- Pick out lines from the researched information and quote them by doing things like this: According to John Smith, “The heat and light projected from the sun alters the appearance of what we see as color in the sky” (APA or MLA citation covered in step six).
5. Write a conclusion paragraph restating all of the reasons using different wording and reiterating some key points throughout the paper. Write something clever, interesting or factual as a closing sentence for the research paper and make sure it ties into the hypothesis or overall point of the paper.
6. Purdue Online Writing Lab tells how to format an entire research paper for APA or MLA and will also help find ways to get legitimate research. Remember to search the college website or library page for convenient access to more online sources and research.