Research Writing for Dummies

Research Writing for Dummies

The majority of people in college are not English majors, want nothing to do with writing papers and feel like running away screaming and pulling their hair out when they have to.

Here is a simple formula to completing any research paper:

1. I’m sure your professor gave you guidelines, topics or a question. Come up with your hypothesis––your opinion.

EXAMPLE:

  • Say you must write a paper over the color of the sky.
  • My thoughts––I don’t believe the sky is blue.
  • Come up with reasons to back up your thought.
  • My hypothesis––Many think the color of the sky is blue, however, this is debatable because of interpretation, the sun’s effect, the gases effect, distance and the form of the sky.

2.  Come up with 4 or 5 reasons that support your hypothesis. In a true research paper, real resources (books, online articles, websites ending in .edu or .org, journals, etc.) have to be used to find and support these reasons. (This means most professors only accept scholarly research––no wikipedia and not just any unreliable website).

EXAMPLE: 5 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
  • You should have resources that somehow relate or back-up each reason.  You don’t necessarily need one resource for each reason––one resource can contain information backing up two or three reasons.
3. Use each reason as a paragraph (the length of detail and explanation for each reason can depend on how long your research paper needs to be. You can also try adding more data or reasoning if you need a longer research paper) and explain why this reason is valid, how you know it’s valid and any extra info pertaining to the reason.
4.  Incorporate where you found your information.
EXAMPLE:
  • Pick out lines from the information you found for your reasons 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).
5. Write a conclusion paragraph restating all of these reasons, using different wording, and reiterating key points throughout your paper. Say something clever, interesting or factual as your closing sentence.
6. http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/section/2/ will tell you how to format for APA and MLA and will also help you find ways to get legitimate research. And if you don’t feel like leaving your room to go to the library, you can also search your college website’s library page–-access to online sources for research are often located there.
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