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How to Write a Research Paper

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This is the type of synthesis essay that students will write during the AP test. Often written as a preliminary essay to an argument synthesis, a review essay is a discussion of what has been written previously on a topic, with a critical analysis of the sources covered.

Its unstated thesis is usually that more research needs to be done in that area or that the topic problem has not been adequately addressed.

This type of paper is common in social science classes and in medicine. This type of essay helps readers understand a topic by categorizing facts and presenting them to further the reader's understanding. It does not advocate a particular point of view, and if it has a thesis statement, the thesis is a weak one.

Some business white papers take this form, although they are more likely to have a point of view, if understated. Choose a topic suitable for a synthesis essay. Your topic should be broad enough for pulling several related sources together, but not so broad as to bring widely disparate sources together. If you have free choice on a topic, some preliminary reading may help you decide what to write about.

However, if you're writing a synthesis essay for a class, you may be assigned a topic or have to pick it from a list. Example of a broad topic narrowed down into a reasonable synthesis essay topic: Instead of the broad topic of Social Media, you could discuss your view on the effects texting has had on the English language. If you've been assigned a topic as part of a class, make sure you read the prompt carefully and fully understand it. Choose and read your sources carefully.

If you are taking the AP test, your sources will be provided for you. You'll usually want to select at least three sources for your essay. If you have time after you study each of these sources thoroughly, it's a good idea to learn one or two more, if you have the time. Look for material within your sources that relates to the reason for writing your essay what your argument is.

Keep in mind that it's better to do three sources well than to do five sources incompletely. Annotate each source by writing notes in the margins. This allows you to keep track of your train of thought, developing ideas, etc. Develop a thesis statement.

Once you have read the sources you are provided with, or have done your own outside research, you will have to come up with an opinion on your topic. Your thesis will be the main idea presented in your essay. It should encompass the topic and state your point of view on that topic.

It should be stated as a complete sentence. Depending on the essay, your thesis statement can be either the opening sentence of the essay itself or the last sentence of the first paragraph. Texting has had a positive impact on the English language as it has helped the millennial generation create their own form of the language.

Re-read your source material for items to support your thesis. Go through your sources and pick out key quotes, statistics, ideas, and facts that support your thesis. As you find them, write them down. You will use these throughout your essay.

If you wish to take on a claim by an opponent of your idea, and to poke holes in it, you should also find some ideas or quotes that go against your thesis statement, and plan ways to disprove them. This is called a concession, refutation, or rebuttal, which can strengthen your argument if you do it well. Outline the structure of your thesis. You can either do this as a formal outline or just plan it in your head, but you need to decide how to present your material for best effect.

If you are writing this paper for the AP test, know that the graders will be looking for a specific structure. This structure is as follows [1]: Identification of the issue you will be discussing.

Topic sentence that gives one reason to support your thesis. Your explanation and opinion of the topic sentence. Support from your sources that backs up the claim you just made. Explanation of the significance of the source s.

State further significance of your topic from the evidence and reasons you discussed in the essay. A profound thought or thoughtful ending for your paper. Use a more creative structure to present your thesis. If you are not writing this argumentative synthesis essay for the AP test, you should plan to use a more elaborate structure than the one listed above. You can use one or more of these approaches to develop your essay [2]: This may be a detailed recount, summary, or direct quote from your source material that provides major support for your point of view.

You may use more than one example or illustration, if your paper calls for it. You should not, however, make your paper a series of examples at the expense of supporting your thesis. With this technique, you present an argument opposed to the argument stated in your thesis, then show the weaknesses and flaws of the counter-argument.

This format shows your awareness of the opposition and your readiness to answer it. Do some critical thinking and write your thesis statement down in one sentence.

Your research paper thesis statement is like a declaration of your belief. The main portion of your essay will consist of arguments to support and defend this belief. It is impossible to create a thesis statement immediately when you have just started fulfilling your assignment.

Before you write a thesis statement, you should collect, organize and analyze materials and your ideas. You cannot make a finally formulated statement before you have completed your reseach paper. It will naturally change while you develop your ideas. Stay away from generic and too fuzzy statements and arguments. Use a particular subject. The paper should present something new to the audience to make it interesting and educative to read. Avoid citing other authors in this section.

Present your own ideas in your own words instead of simply copying from other writers. If you have time and opportunity, show it to your instructor to revise. Otherwise, you may estimate it yourself. A well-prepared thesis means well-shaped ideas. It increases credibility of the paper and makes good impression about its author. More helpful hints about Writing a Research Paper. An informal outline working outline is a tool helping an author put down and organize their ideas.

It is subject to revision, addition and canceling, without paying much attention to form. In a formal outline, numbers and letters are used to arrange topics and subtopics. The letters and numbers of the same kind should be placed directly under one another. The topics denoted by their headings and subheadings should be grouped in a logical order. All points of a research paper outline must relate to the same major topic that you first mentioned in your capital Roman numeral. The purpose of an outline is to help you think through your topic carefully and organize it logically before you start writing.

A good outline is the most important step in writing a good paper. Check your outline to make sure that the points covered flow logically from one to the other. Make the first outline tentative. What is the chief reason you are writing the paper? State also how you plan to approach your topic. Is this a factual report, a book review, a comparison, or an analysis of a problem? Explain briefly the major points you plan to cover in your paper and why readers should be interested in your topic.

BODY — This is where you present your arguments to support your thesis statement. Remember the Rule of 3, i. Begin with a strong argument, then use a stronger one, and end with the strongest argument for your final point. Explain why you have come to this particular conclusion. Organize all the information you have gathered according to your outline. Critically analyze your research data.

Using the best available sources, check for accuracy and verify that the information is factual, up-to-date, and correct. Opposing views should also be noted if they help to support your thesis. This is the most important stage in writing a research paper.

Here you will analyze, synthesize, sort, and digest the information you have gathered and hopefully learn something about your topic which is the real purpose of doing a research paper in the first place. You must also be able to effectively communicate your thoughts, ideas, insights, and research findings to others through written words as in a report, an essay, a research or term paper, or through spoken words as in an oral or multimedia presentation with audio-visual aids.

Do not include any information that is not relevant to your topic, and do not include information that you do not understand. Make sure the information that you have noted is carefully recorded and in your own words, if possible. Plagiarism is definitely out of the question.

Document all ideas borrowed or quotes used very accurately. As you organize your notes, jot down detailed bibliographical information for each cited paragraph and have it ready to transfer to your Works Cited page.

Devise your own method to organize your notes. One method may be to mark with a different color ink or use a hi-liter to identify sections in your outline, e. Group your notes following the outline codes you have assigned to your notes, e. The opposite of a focused, narrow, crisp thesis is a broad, sprawling, superficial thesis. Compare this original thesis too general with three possible revisions more focused, each presenting a different approach to the same topic:.

Your thesis statement is no exception to your writing: By being as clear as possible in your thesis statement, you will make sure that your reader understands exactly what you mean. These words tell the reader next to nothing if you do not carefully explain what you mean by them. Never assume that the meaning of a sentence is obvious. To avoid misunderstandings, be as specific as possible. Compare the original thesis not specific and clear enough with the revised version much more specific and clear:.

Do not expect to come up with a fully formulated thesis statement before you have finished writing the paper. The thesis will inevitably change as you revise and develop your ideas—and that is ok! Start with a tentative thesis and revise as your paper develops. Avoid, avoid, avoid generic arguments and formula statements.

They work well to get a rough draft started, but will easily bore a reader. Keep revising until the thesis reflects your real ideas. Avoid formula and generic words. Search for concrete subjects and active verbs, revising as many "to be" verbs as possible.

A few suggestions below show how specific word choice sharpens and clarifies your meaning. Use your own words in thesis statements; avoid quoting. Crafting an original, insightful, and memorable thesis makes a distinct impression on a reader. You will lose credibility as a writer if you become only a mouthpiece or a copyist; you will gain credibility by grabbing the reader with your own ideas and words.

A well-crafted thesis statement reflects well-crafted ideas. It signals a writer who has intelligence, commitment, and enthusiasm. Center for Writing Studies: Quick Links Home Search Contact. How long does it need to be? In order to write a successful thesis statement: Avoid burying a great thesis statement in the middle of a paragraph or late in the paper.


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Developing a Research Thesis. A research thesis has most of the same thesis characteristics as a thesis for a non-research essay. The difference lies in the fact that you gather information and evidence from appropriate, valid sources to support your perspective on a topic or stand on an issue.

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As you write the essay, you will probably begin to characterize these differences more precisely, and your working thesis may start to seem too vague. Maybe you decide that both sides fought for moral reasons, and that they just focused on different moral issues.

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But the most common place for a thesis statement (and probably why you’re reading this article) is in an essay. Whether you’re writing an argumentative paper, an informative essay, or a compare/contrast statement, you need a thesis. A thesis statement provides the foundation for your entire research paper or essay. This statement is the central assertion that you want to express in your essay. But there are a few different types, and the content of your own thesis statement will depend upon the type of paper you’re writing.

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A thesis statement is a sentence in which you state an argument about a topic and then describe, briefly, how you will prove your argument. This is an argument, but not yet a thesis: "The movie ‘JFK’ inaccurately portrays President Kennedy.". Writing Tips: Thesis Statements. Defining the Thesis Statement; Questions to Ask When Formulating Your Thesis; Defining the Thesis Statement What is a thesis statement? Every paper you write should have a main point, a main idea, or central message. The argument(s) you make in your paper should reflect this main idea.