The Main Rules of a Research Writing Paper Process
Research papers are different than essays and other types of writing because they are reports of findings on a particular topic based on published material. Although creativity is encouraged in other writing styles, there are very specific rules to follow for a research writing paper.
Create an Outline
Your outline should cover a brief introduction, statement of methods, critical review, and conclusion. The better organized your paper is the more believable your argument to support your topic will be.
Your introduction should not exceed one page. In most cases it will be only a couple paragraphs. It should come to a closing with a concise statement, announcing the purpose of your paper, and how you will accomplish the point you are trying to make.
It is imperative that you examine your sources thoroughly and understand that just because something is published does not make it right. Your content will make up the bulk of your work.
- Present Real Data - Present the details of data being tested; not just vague or broad explanations.
- Never Make Unsupported Assertions - If you are going to make a point, you have to present the evidence and evaluate its relevance.
- Go to the Source - Articles through "Newsweek," "TIME," and other popular magazines are not credible. It is fine to read and cite them, but always go to the original source for the facts.
- Minimal Direct Quotes - Do not go overboard with direct quotes. Reserve them for especially pertinent information.
- Explain Tables and Figures - You cannot use tables and figures, if you are not prepared to explain them and provide proper attribution.
- Cite Sources - One of the most important elements of your research paper is your bibliography. It must be accurate, and it has to be extensive enough to support your content.
A few additional rules to keep in mind include:
- Edit Multiple Times - Allow yourself hours, or even days between edits to make sure you are viewing the content with fresh eyes, or you are likely to overlook the same mistakes.
- Get Familiar with Your Style Sheet - If you are required to use a specific styles sheet for your paper, get familiar with it first, so you can take notes accordingly. Your style sheet may dictate headings, abbreviations, placement of notes, quotations, tables, numbers, appendixes, spacing, margins, paragraphs, indentations, and page numbering requirements.