How to Prepare for Writing a 5-Page Research Paper
Writing a 5-page research paper consists of a systematic approach that requires proper planning. Understanding the research process goes a long way and preparing ahead of time will increase your chances of writing great papers.
Follow these six steps to prepare for writing a 5-page research paper:
- Choose your topic: Think about the things you’ve been reading and discussing in class. Ask yourself a few questions and consider answers you’d like to know. Think about different aspects of your topic and pick a subtopic that that interests you and isn’t too broad or too narrow. Draft a thesis to guide you through your upcoming research.
- Find background info: As soon as you’ve settled on a subtopic and an idea for your thesis then you should find some general background info to give you some context for your research. Find terminology or jargon that might be confusing to someone outside of your discipline. Write down important dates, places, names and anything else that could be useful to your research.
- Refine your topic: When you have your background info you should be able to further refine your broad research topic into something more specific. For example, instead of researching unemployment in the U.S. you may want to refine your topic to unemployment in the Western states or unemployment to a specific state. Don’t be too focused to the point that you can’t find enough information, but do narrow so that you research a topic that is unique and interesting.
- Find resources on your topic: When looking for resources it’s important you don’t just look for authors or titles you are familiar with. Search for related items that could contribute to your discussion. Try looking through bibliographies for more resources. Open up your options to find more content.
- Evaluate your sources: There are different criteria for evaluating research resources. Generally, the most helpful are checking for accuracy and quality, authority, purpose and objectivity, corroboration and coverage, how current a piece is, and its relevance. Once you’ve learned how to apply these six criteria you can keep them in the back of your mind and evaluate your sources as you find them.
- Draft your outline: This is the last step you need to take before writing a research paper. Organize the major components of your research findings into major groups. The best ones can be major sections and provide the body paragraphs of your research paper. You may need to re-arrange your outline before starting, but be sure to use this as you write to stay on course and keep your paper structured.