Guidelines For College Research Paper

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Academic Writing Secrets: College Research Paper

If you are a freshmen in college you may be feeling a little overwhelmed. Right after orientation your instructor will likely assign a semester long research paper. This can be surprising! “Am I really suppose to write a 10,000 word paper on one topic?” Well, there is a secret to it- there is actually a reason why instructors give you SO LONG to finish these papers.

You Already Know All The Answers… Or You Will

Before you rush off to the library to begin working on your semester long research paper take a minute to consider this: The research that you need to write a great paper will be presented to you in class. Most of the time the teachers expect students to write on topics that they will cover. So, all you need to do is attend class (all of them) and keep good notes.

These notes will become the basis for your final research paper topic. Chances are if you pay attention your instructor will point you in the right direction. They will tell you what resources to read and where to go to get your supporting evidence. Each class will probably cover a different potential topic for your paper. Pay attention- and like we said keep good notes. Think of it is saving yourself time and energy later on.

Work From An Outline

Mid semester you may want to begin putting together an outline. This will help you begin to organize your thoughts and notes, while also helping to develop your thesis. During each class fill out your outline using your own words. Save yourself time by using full sentences. Smart students use this technique to work better not harder! You’ll be surprised by how far you can get in your research paper writing just from paying attention in class. That outline will later be the basis for your first draft!

Just Write!

Once you have a good sense of what topics covered in class you are going to write on the next step is to develop your thesis. If you have followed our advice and kept notes coming up with a suitable thesis statement should be easy. Because you worked from an outline most of the hard work is already finished. You already know what sources to use and where to get the rest of the information you need.

Writing a Research Paper


This handout provides detailed information about how to write research papers including discussing research papers as a genre, choosing topics, and finding sources.

Contributors: Jack Raymond Baker, Allen Brizee, Ashley Velázquez
Last Edited: 2018-02-14 03:36:12

The Research Paper

There will come a time in most students' careers when they are assigned a research paper. Such an assignment often creates a great deal of unneeded anxiety in the student, which may result in procrastination and a feeling of confusion and inadequacy. This anxiety frequently stems from the fact that many students are unfamiliar and inexperienced with this genre of writing. Never fear—inexperience and unfamiliarity are situations you can change through practice! Writing a research paper is an essential aspect of academics and should not be avoided on account of one's anxiety. In fact, the process of writing a research paper can be one of the more rewarding experiences one may encounter in academics. What is more, many students will continue to do research throughout their careers, which is one of the reasons this topic is so important.

Becoming an experienced researcher and writer in any field or discipline takes a great deal of practice. There are few individuals for whom this process comes naturally. Remember, even the most seasoned academic veterans have had to learn how to write a research paper at some point in their career. Therefore, with diligence, organization, practice, a willingness to learn (and to make mistakes!), and, perhaps most important of all, patience, students will find that they can achieve great things through their research and writing.

This handout will include the following sections related to the process of writing a research paper:

  • Genre- This section will provide an overview for understanding the difference between an analytical and argumentative research paper.
  • Choosing a Topic- This section will guide the student through the process of choosing topics, whether the topic be one that is assigned or one that the student chooses himself.
  • Identifying an Audience- This section will help the student understand the often times confusing topic of audience by offering some basic guidelines for the process.
  • Where Do I Begin- This section concludes the handout by offering several links to resources at Purdue, and also provides an overview of the final stages of writing a research paper.


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