Choosing a Strong Research Topic
You′ll be spending a lot of time on a research paper, so it is particularly important to select a topic that you really enjoy working with. But alas, it′s not that simple! To make your project a success, you′ll have to ensure that the topic is strong, as well as enjoyable. What does this mean? Unfortunately, you might find a topic that you like a lot, and go on to develop a strong thesis with no trouble at all. Then, you find yourself spending an afternoon at the library and discovering one or two problems.
You could find that very little research is available on your subject : This is a common hazard that wastes time and disrupts your mental flow and confidence. As much as you may like your topic, you may want to give it up at the start if you know you′re going to run into trouble finding information for your paper.
You may find that the research doesn′t support your thesis : Oops! This is a common frustration for professors who publish a lot. They often come up with intriguing and exciting new ideas, only to find that all the research points in a different direction. Don′t stick with an idea if you see lots of evidence that refutes it! To avoid those pitfalls, it is important to select more than one topic from the start. Find three or four topics that interest you, then, go to the library or an Internet-connected computer at home and conduct a preliminary search of each topic. Determine which project idea can be supported with plenty of published material.
Preliminary searches can be done pretty quickly; there is no need to spend hours in the library. As a matter of fact, you can start at home, on your own computer. Choose a topic and do a basic computer search. Take note of the types of sources that appear for each topic. For instance, you may come up with fifty web pages that concern your topic, but no books or articles. This is not a good result! Your teacher will be looking for (and perhaps requiring) a variety of sources, to include articles, books, and encyclopedia references. Don′t select a topic that doesn′t appear in books and articles, as well as on web sites.
How To Write a Research Paper
Writing a research paper in college can be a challenge. The key to success, however, is approaching a major project in smaller pieces. Check out these 6 basic steps to help you conquer any college research paper or project.
Have your thesis and/or topic approved by your professor or TA in advance : You may think you have an amazing thesis or topic, and you may end up writing an amazing paper. But if your topic isn’t approved by your professor (or, worse yet, doesn’t directly address the assignment), your grade will be less than stellar. Check in with your professor or TA before you begin to make sure all your work is headed in the right direction.
Work backward to set a time line in your calendar : If your project is due, for example, during finals week, work backward to figure out when you need to start. Plan out how many weeks you’ll need for research, how many weeks you’ll need for writing, and how many weeks you’ll need for revision. Then throw in an extra week or two just to be safe. From there, work backward and figure out when exactly you’ll need to start your project in order to meet the assignment’s due date.
Break the assignment into smaller projects or sections : Say your paper or project needs to be 30, 40, or even 50 pages long. Trying to write and research that much in one go is not only scary but also virtually impossible. Create an outline for your project and go from there. View the final product as several different papers, for example, that address various parts of a larger picture. It will then seem — and become — much more manageable.
Leave a cushion near the deadline : Chances are that your paper is due at the end of the semester, which means everyone else’s papers are due then. Which means everything is checked out from the library and the flu will be going through all of the residence halls. No matter how well you plan, life happens sometimes. Make sure to give yourself a little cushion so you can accommodate accordingly.
Enhance your grades with tips for writing the most common paper assignments. Write more interesting biographies, more informative book reviews, and more thorough research papers.
Research Papers and Procrastination
The good books go missing : Everybody who has ever done a research paper has suffered from this problem. Somebody out there is bound to be researching the same topic as you are, and sure as you’re living, they’re going to check out all the good books.
The good books are at a different library: You find a few perfect books, but they are from a library in another part of the state. You can probably get them through interlibrary loan, but that will take at least a week!
You find a topic you like, but you just can’t get the research to support it: This happens a lot; you can only find one or two references for your topic. Now, it looks like you’ll have to find a new subject to write about. The days and weeks are passing fast, and it’s panic time! It looks like you’ll have to rush through the assignment now. What if your new topic doesn’t pan out, either?
You put your research off for a week, and then you get sick: Don’t tempt fate; this happens all the time. Have you ever tried to read a difficult book with a fever, chills, and headache? Ouch. The earlier you start, the more time you’ll have to proof read, revise and enjoy! Just think, you’ll be the envy of your friends if you finish your paper a week ahead of time. You won’t have to miss out on the big game or a party on the night before your due date (like some of your friends).