Best Research Paper Samples That Will Inspire You
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Best Research Paper Examples
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By reading our samples, you will get ideas on how to choose a topic for your paper or essay, outline your paper and formulate a thesis statement. These samples provide useful ideas for writing the introduction and body of your paper. You also know how to transition from one section of the paper to another. We have an example for you regardless of your study field or academic level.
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Writing a Research Paper Introduction | Step-by-Step Guide
Published on September 24, 2020 by Jack Caulfield. Revised on November 19, 2020.
The introduction to a research paper is where you set up your topic and approach for the reader. It has several key goals:
- Present your topic and get the reader interested
- Provide background or summarize existing research
- Position your own approach
- Detail your specific research problem
- Give an overview of the paper’s structure
The introduction looks slightly different depending on whether your paper presents the results of original empirical research or constructs an argument by engaging with a variety of sources.
The five steps in this article will help you put together an effective introduction for either type of research paper.
Table of contents
- Step 1: Introduce your topic
- Step 2: Describe the background
- Step 3: Establish your research problem
- Step 4: Specify your objective(s)
- Step 5: Map out your paper
- Research paper introduction examples
- Frequently asked questions about the research paper introduction
Step 1: Introduce your topic
The first job of the introduction is to tell the reader what your topic is and why it’s interesting or important. This is generally accomplished with a strong opening hook.
The hook is a striking opening sentence that clearly conveys the relevance of your topic. Think of an interesting fact or statistic, a strong statement, a question, or a brief anecdote that will get the reader wondering about your topic.
For example, the following could be an effective hook for an argumentative paper about the environmental impact of cattle farming:
Argumentative paper hook Are cows responsible for climate change?
A more empirical paper investigating the relationship of Instagram use with body image issues in adolescent girls might use the following hook:
Empirical paper hook The rise of social media has been accompanied by a sharp increase in the prevalence of body image issues among women and girls.
Don’t feel that your hook necessarily has to be deeply impressive or creative. Clarity and relevance are still more important than catchiness. The key thing is to guide the reader into your topic and situate your ideas.
Step 2: Describe the background
This part of the introduction differs depending on what approach your paper is taking.
In a more argumentative paper, you’ll explore some general background here. In a more empirical paper, this is the place to review previous research and establish how yours fits in.
Argumentative paper: Background information
After you’ve caught your reader’s attention, specify a bit more, providing context and narrowing down your topic.
Argumentative paper background
A recent study (RIVM, 2019) shows that cattle farmers account for two thirds of agricultural nitrogen emissions in the Netherlands. These emissions result from nitrogen in manure, which can degrade into ammonia and enter the atmosphere. The study’s calculations show that agriculture is the main source of nitrogen pollution, accounting for 46% of the country’s total emissions. By comparison, road traffic and households are responsible for 6.1% each, the industrial sector for 1%.
Provide only the most relevant background information. The introduction isn’t the place to get too in-depth; if more background is essential to your paper, it can appear in the body.
Empirical paper: Describing previous research
For a paper describing original research, you’ll instead provide an overview of the most relevant research that has already been conducted. This is a sort of miniature literature review—a sketch of the current state of research into your topic, boiled down to a few sentences.
This should be informed by genuine engagement with the literature. Your search can be less extensive than in a full literature review, but a clear sense of the relevant research is crucial to inform your own work.
Begin by establishing the kinds of research that have been done, and end with limitations or gaps in the research that you intend to respond to.
Empirical paper background
Various empirical studies have been conducted into Facebook usage among adolescent girls (Tiggermann & Slater, 2013; Meier & Gray, 2014). These studies have consistently found that the visual and interactive aspects of the platform have the greatest influence on body image issues. Despite this, highly visual social media (HVSM) such as Instagram have yet to be robustly researched.
Basic Research Paper Format Examples
Formatting a research paper shouldn’t take more time than the research itself. Knowing the most important parts of a research paper helps you outline your paper quickly. It can also help to guide and frame your research. Follow the sample research paper outline here to get started.
Student doing research in library
Formatting a Research Paper
Before you start your paper, it’s important to know what style guide to use. Style guides regulate your paper’s typography, grammar, citation, and bibliography. Different fields use different style guides in their research studies.
The APA style guide, named for the American Psychological Association, is used in behavioral and social science research, including educational and psychological studies. Here are some basic tips for formatting an APA research paper.
- Paper should be on 8 ½ x 11-inch white paper, with 1-inch margins on the top, bottom, and sides.
- Font is 12 point Times New Roman.
- Lines are double-spaced.
- Cover pages are required in APA papers and are center-aligned.
- Each page needs a left-aligned running header with the title of your study.
- Right-align page numbers at the top of each page, including the cover page.
- Indent the first word in each paragraph, except in the abstract.
- The title itself is not bolded, but individual section headings (e.g. Background, Methodology) are.
- In-text citations of other studies, reports, and articles include the author’s or organization’s name, as well as the year of publication.
Other Style Guides
The other two most prominent style guides are primarily used for liberal arts subjects:
(Modern Language Association) (Chicago/Turabian Manual of Style)
Other style guides are used for scientific and medical studies. These include:
- AMA (American Medical Association)
- CBE (Council of Biology Editors)
The style guides are similar in some ways, but have important differences as well. Your teacher or professor will typically tell you what style guide to use.
Parts of a Research Paper
Research studies begin with a question in mind. A paper that describes a particular study clearly states the question, methodology, findings, and other relevant information. Read below for descriptions and examples of research paper sections.
The main sections of a typical APA research paper include:
- Cover Page
A more straightforward version of a research paper is the IMRAD format (Introduction, Methodology, Results, and Discussion). However, all of the following sections are typically present in a formal research paper.
Title or Cover Page
Just like any other paper you write, your research paper needs a cover page with your study’s title. It also needs your and any co-writers’ names and institutional affiliations (if any). Here is an example of a basic APA cover page.
The Effects of Food Insecurity on School Performance
Kayla Yang and Nicole Brighton
University of California, Davis
An abstract is a detailed summary of your study. It should include a broad overview of the paper, your research question, the significance of your study, methods of research, and findings. Don’t list cited works in the abstract.
Here is an example of an abstract for a paper on food insecurity.
Poverty affects more than 41 million Americans every day – most of whom are children. Food insecurity and undernutrition have a confirmed correlation to slower cognitive development for children under three years of age. Hungry children cannot form skills as quickly as their peers due to both deprivation of vital nutrients and poor concentration. But, there has been little focus on how these effects scale up in terms of school performance past kindergarten.
Public schools have several programs in place to mitigate the problem of food insecurity, including free breakfast and reduced lunch. We surveyed 100 students at Arbor Elementary School over the course of one school year to see how effective these programs were in improving their academic performance and general contentment in school. The results of these surveys reveal how long children are academically affected by systemic food insecurity, even when their stomachs are currently full.
The introduction section tells the reader what problem your study is attempting to solve. You can address the study’s significance and originality here as well. Clearly state the research question in the form of a thesis statement.
Poverty and poor school performance are two problems that keep Americans from reaching their full potential. Alongside poverty is food insecurity, which affects millions of households – and children – every day. But could focusing on one problem help to solve the other? We wanted to find out whether programs designed to reduce food insecurity for targeted children would improve their school performance, and therefore, give them a more successful start in life.
What inspired you to take on this study? What has previous research stated or revealed about this topic? The background section is the place to add historical data or define previous theories that provide context for your study. It’s also a helpful place to consider your audience and what information they will need to understand the rest of your paper. Read on for an example of a paragraph from the background section of a research paper.
Food insecurity is defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a lack of regular access to food due to one’s financial status. According to the Department’s report “Household Food Security in the United States in 2016,” 12.3 percent of American households, or approximately 41 million people, experienced food insecurity at some point in 2016 (USDA 2017). The Right to Food was included in the United Nations’ 1948 Declaration of Human Rights, while the Food and Agriculture Organization measures food insecurity on a scale from mild (uncertainty about obtaining food) to severe (no access to food for an entire day). (FAO 2019).
Knowing whether you used qualitative or quantitative methods is an important part of understanding your study. You can list all the ways you collected data, including surveys, experiments, or field research. This section is also known as “Materials and Methods” in scientific studies.
We used qualitative methods to gather data about students who may experience food insecurity. These methods included surveys with various questions that assessed whether students felt hungry, insecure about their next meal, and/or distracted from classwork due to hunger (Appendix A). The surveys were distributed to 100 students in fourth and fifth grade (10-11 years old) at Arbor Elementary School, 50 of whom were recipients of Title 1 funding via free and reduced lunch. The remaining 50 were a control group of students who were not identified as socioeconomically disadvantaged. The students completed these surveys at the beginning of the school year, then once every two months until the end of the school year, for a total of five survey periods.
What does your study find? State your findings and supply the data in this section. Use an objective perspective here; save the evaluation for your conclusion section.
The survey results indicated a strong correlation between school performance and food insecurity (Appendix D). Students who answered affirmatively in the surveys were consistently among the lower performing members of their class. Contrasted with their peers who were not identified as socioeconomically disadvantaged, these students identified anxiety about their next meal as one of the top three concerns in their minds. Their participation in programs like free breakfast and reduced lunch helped to assuage daily hunger and general happiness, but their concern over food insecurity remained.
Explain why your findings are significant in the conclusion section. This section allows you to evaluate results and reflect on your process. Does the study require additional research?
The problem with systemic food insecurity goes beyond distracting hunger for young students. Even after they’ve had a nutritious breakfast and lunch at school, concern over dinner was distracting from their school performance. The final survey period, taken just before the beginning of summer break, indicated how much food insecurity can dictate a child’s anticipation of a long period without school – and therefore, regular meals.
Having a lower school performance later in life could place these children as future parents in food-insecure households, thus perpetuating the cycle. Solving the cyclical problem of poverty and school performance requires participation from all stakeholders, including schools, city governments, and state and federal legislation that works to move following generations out of the cycle.
If you have information that is too dense for the paper itself, include it in an appendix. Appendices are helpful when you want to include supplementary material that is relevant but not integral to the paper itself.
- Did you have breakfast at home or at school this morning?
- Did you buy lunch or bring lunch from home this afternoon?
- Do you feel hungry now?
- What time of day is it hardest for you to concentrate?
- Do you know what your next meal will be?
- Do you ever worry about food?
- Do you ever feel like there isn’t enough food to eat at your house?
- Are you hungrier on weekends than on school days?
- Is it harder to focus on schoolwork when you’re hungry?
- Are there issues that are more important to you than food?
Other Parts of a Research Paper
If you’d like to go into more depth than the sections above, consider including additional parts of a research paper.
- Limitations of Study: Found after the Introduction section, the Limitations of Study section lists any factors by which you limited your research. These can include age, location, sex, and education level. This section can also list the ways that your study was impacted by shortcomings such as limited resources or small sample sizes.
- Literature Review: The Literature Review section takes scholarly articles or books out of the Background section for a more focused investigation. You can usually find this section between Background and Methodology.
- Discussion: A more concentrated section for evaluating results is the Discussion section. This section is a helpful place to consider the process as a whole.
- Acknowledgments: This is a place to thank anyone who helped you complete your research. It can include colleagues, focus group participants, fellow researchers, mentors, or family members.
More Tips on Writing Research Papers
Now that you know how to structure your research paper, it’s time to find the perfect question to answer. Read our article on the differences between good and bad research questions so you’ll know what common pitfalls to avoid. No matter what you choose to research, you’ll be prepared!
APA (American Psychological Association) style is a style guide used widely for academic writing in the social sciences and psychology. The APA style guide addresses a wide variety of formatting issues in academic writing regarding citations within the text of the work and the references along with the abstract and title page. Learn the ins and outs of APA writing style through APA format examples.
Transitional words and phrases help make a piece of writing flow better and connect one idea to the next. Because there’s more than one way to connect ideas, there are many types of transitional phrases to show a variety of relationships. View several transition words and examples of phrases used in sentences, paragraphs and essays.
Research Paper Example – Samples for Students
January 17, 2019
Research papers are not restricted to a particular field. Thus, it remains a hard nut to crack to manage the diversity of research papers. Looking at a research paper example will give you an idea on how to write a research paper. Let us begin with what is a research paper and then take a look at the example.
Research Paper- Defined
A research paper is the final outcome of a research process that involves synthesis of research, critical analysis, evaluation of sources, organization, and composition. To develop a research paper, one must have a strong knowledge of the topic along with critical thinking and analytical skills. As a student, you may be required to write different types of research papers like a survey research paper, argumentative research paper, cause-and-effect research paper, analytical research paper, reports research paper, interpretative research paper, experimental research paper, etc.
To get started with the research paper writing, it is always better to draft a research paper outline. Continue reading to know when and how to prepare a research paper outline.
Preparing an Outline for Research Paper Writing
A rough representation of the research paper is called an outline. To prepare an outline, the very first step is to finalize a good research paper topic. Choosing a topic, undoubtedly, will be time taking and brain wracking. Thereafter, you have to move into an in-depth study of the chosen topic. This means you have to look for data that can be from primary or secondary sources, study previous research conducted on the topic which gives you background knowledge on the topic, review the materials related to the topic and compile and organize all the information you have collected. While researching, make sure you conduct wide research and take into consideration the ones that are significant, relevant, valid, and original.
Reviewing the related literature, you will come across a gap in previous studies, or an issue that hasn’t been addressed. This helps in developing a strong research question which in turn helps to craft a strong thesis statement.
So, after you have collected the relevant information, developed the research question, and prepared a thesis, it’s time to organize everything into a formal structure which is an outline. The outline adheres to a standardized format. But mostly has the following components that are presented in form of headings and points. Each heading and subheading contain a brief description of the same.
Research Paper Abstract: A summary of your paper is written at the end of your paper.
Introduction: Contains the topic description, research problem, and thesis statement.
Literature Review: Contains the background information about the topic- what has already been studied, what has been found.
Research Methodology: This contains the research methodology framework you have designed that includes the approach, strategy, methods of data collection, and analysis.
Data Analysis: Contains what you are analyzing, and how you are analyzing. This is a crucial step in your study as you have to examine every piece of data in detail to develop or discover essential features or meanings.
Results: Results are findings and implications that your analysis indicates.
Conclusion: You once again go over the thesis statement and rest of the paper in the conclusion paragraph. Restate the objectives and summarize the findings and what the study has accomplished.
References: Contains all the sources you have consulted according to the citation format instructed.
Research Paper Example
Topic: The Correlation Between Anxiety and Academic Performance
Abstract: In the research paper abstract, the gist of the research paper is provided. You briefly state the significance of your study, objectives of the study, research methodology and outcomes.
The objective of this research was to observe the relationship between anxiety and academic performance among postgraduate students. A total of 206 students were chosen at random from different departments at a major university in Pahang. State Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) was used to measure the level of anxiety. And the performance of students was measured through the Grade Point Average (GPA). The Test Anxiety Inventory was used to collect data (TAI). For data analysis, Pearson correlation, regression analyses, and multivariate statistics were used. It was discovered that test anxiety levels and achievement scores have a significant negative association. Academic anxiety is caused more by a cognitive aspect (concern) than by affective factors, according to the findings (emotional). As a result, it can be stated that test anxiety is one of the variables contributing to students’ underachievement and poor performance, but it may also be overcome.
Introduction: The introduction sets out to define the subject of the study. The importance of the study is addressed here along with a thesis statement that asserts the objective and position of the paper.
In our competitive environment, tests and examinations at all levels of education, particularly at the higher education level, have been deemed a significant and powerful tool for decision making, with people of all ages being evaluated on their achievement, skills, and abilities. Students with anxiety disorders have a lethargic attitude toward their academics, exhibiting a lack of enthusiasm in learning, poor exam achievement, and poor assignment performance. Anxious students have a shorter memory span, lose concentration, lack confidence, and have weak reasoning abilities. External elements such as the examination hall setting; examiner behavior, and internal factors such as the structuring of questions in a test, sufficient context explanation, and so on have all been suggested by the researchers as ways to reduce anxiety associated with tests and study. Despite these efforts, several studies have identified anxiety as one of the leading causes of student underachievement and poor performance at various stages of their educational careers.
Literature Review: The background is where you start to discuss the topic in more detail. What motivated you to research this topic? What are the previous research findings? Give a review of the existing knowledge in the area of your study.
Anxiety is a psychophysiology issue. Symptoms include psychological, bodily, and environmental difficulties. Excessive worrying, a sensation of fear, highly sensitive responses, restlessness, and negative thinking are all examples of anxiety. Physiological arousal and cognitive anxiety are two elements of study anxiety.
Students of higher levels have a responsibility for maintaining their peak academic performance. This anxiety develops through an overdemanding syllabus or insensible teaching. Studies depicted that students having higher levels of anxiety had a lower academic performance. Studies have also revealed that anxiety has a detrimental effect causing a decrease in memory and reasoning in students, consistent feelings of stress, tension, and fear, and also affecting their nervous system. Previous research observed that students’ academic performance is affected by personal efforts, peer interaction, time management, environment, completion of assignments, study groups, teaching style, and class attendance. Although, studies have also revealed that improved academic performance relies on effective studying and motivation. Further studies suggested that students who had a feeling of satisfaction and had low anxiety levels performed better in academics.
Research Methodology: This is where you state how you have conducted your research, thoroughly describe the procedure, sample, materials, and methods.
Participants: The sample in this study is postgraduate students at Pahang University. Students having low academic performance were tested for measuring their anxiety levels. A total of 206 students, 96 male and 110 female students with low academic scores participated in the test. Students who participated were between the age of 22-26 and belonged to socioeconomic and diverse ethnic backgrounds.
Measurement: STAI was used to measure the level of anxiety. The STAI has 40 questions with two subscales. The s-Anxiety scale (Form Y-1) contains 20 statements that quantify how respondents feel about anxiety right now. In response to the T-anxiety scale (Form Y-2) that contains 20 statements to evaluate how they generally feel about being anxious. These forms required students to identify each statement and determine the intensity of their emotions based on four types of ranges.
Procedure: We collected the data using the Test Anxiety Inventory from the university. Thereafter, we randomly selected students who had lower GPAs from different departments. The students upon selection were given questionnaires that they answered.
Data Analysis: This is where you describe your analysis techniques. What are you analyzing? What tools or methods you have utilized to analyze the data?
With the help of the Pearson correlation, regression analysis, and multivariate statistics, we examined the relationship between anxiety and academic performance. We assessed the significant coefficient and correlation coefficient to determine the results.
Table 1: Interpretation of STAI and GPA level
Table 2: Demographics of Respondents
Table 3: Correlation between Anxiety and Academic Performance
Results: In this section, you clearly mention your findings. You can use tables, charts, graphs etc., to demonstrate the results where it is necessary.
Results show a significant correlation between low academic performance and high study and test anxiety. It proves that students who have a higher anxiety level tend to perform lower than others who have a lower anxiety level. All the 206 students had GPAs below 2.51 and had anxiety levels above 95. The results support previous studies where anxiety played an important role in students’ academic performance and learning. The causes for study and test anxiety or academic anxiety are identified to be the stress to perform better, peer pressure, family pressure, fear of failure, and other factors. Anxiety creates a lack of confidence, reduces self-motivation, and increases worry among students.
Discussion and Conclusion: In this section, you discuss the results of your study, relate it with the thesis and summarize your study.
Academic anxiety that is related to studies and examinations has a detrimental effect on the students. Furthermore, it is reiterated through the findings that the pressure of scoring higher on exams, fear of failing, and consequences of failure were the main reasons for cognitive anxiety. The possible remedies for reducing the anxiety level can be relaxation training, coaching, counseling, mental stimulations, positive thinking, seeking social support, self-instructional training, affirmation, modalities, use of humor, and skills training.
To summarize the discussion, we can conclude that anxiety related to study and tests have a direct impact on the students’ academic performance. To manage this anxiety effectively, teachers and parents can help students by using cognitive and behavioral strategies. Furthermore, the faculty and departmental administrators must inform students about the curriculum, semester duration, and level of dedication required to complete the course. Therefore, it is important to identify and consider students having a higher level of anxiety must be treated to improve their academic performance.
References: In the last part of the research paper, there should be a section “works cited”, “references” or “bibliography”. All the sources used should be mentioned in this section according to the citation format specified by the instructor.
Hopefully, this article and the research paper example will help you acquire a better understanding of how to compose a research paper. Good planning, in-depth research, and critical thinking will help you achieve good grades in your research paper assignment. But in case you are still struggling with composing a research paper, then feel free to get in touch with us. All you have to do is ask our professionals to write a paper and get your paper done easily. PenMyPaper is a leading academic service provider and we assure to deliver you a high-quality research paper within your required time frame.
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Research Paper Examples
Research paper examples are of great value for students who want to complete their assignments timely and efficiently. If you are a student in the university, your first stop in the quest for research paper examples will be the campus library where you can get to view the research sample papers of lecturers and other professionals in diverse fields plus those of fellow students who preceded you in the campus. Many college departments maintain libraries of previous student work, including large research papers, which current students can examine. Our collection of research paper examples includes:
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When you get an assignment to write a research paper, the first question you ask yourself is ‘Should I look for research paper examples?’ Maybe, I can deal with this task on my own without any help. Is it that difficult?
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A Sample Research Paper on Child Abuse
A research paper is an academic piece of writing, so you need to follow all the requirements and standards. Otherwise, it will be impossible to get the high results. To make it easier for you, we have analyzed the structure and peculiarities of a sample research paper on the topic ‘Child Abuse’.
The paper includes 7300+ words, a detailed outline, citations are in APA formatting style, and bibliography with 28 sources.
To write any paper you need to write a great outline. This is the key to a perfect paper. When you organize your paper, it is easier for you to present the ideas logically, without jumping from one thought to another.
In the outline, you need to name all the parts of your paper. That is to say, an introduction, main body, conclusion, bibliography, some papers require abstract and proposal as well.
A good outline will serve as a guide through your paper making it easier for the reader to follow your ideas.
II. Estimates of Child Abuse: Methodological Limitations
III. Child Abuse and Neglect: The Legalities
IV. Corporal Punishment Versus Child Abuse
V. Child Abuse Victims: The Patterns
VI. Child Abuse Perpetrators: The Patterns
VII. Explanations for Child Abuse
VIII. Consequences of Child Abuse and Neglect
IX. Determining Abuse: How to Tell Whether a Child Is Abused or Neglected
X. Determining Abuse: Interviewing Children
XI. How Can Society Help Abused Children and Abusive Families?
An introduction should include a thesis statement and the main points that you will discuss in the paper.
A thesis statement is one sentence in which you need to show your point of view. You will then develop this point of view through the whole piece of work:
‘The impact of child abuse affects more than one’s childhood, as the psychological and physical injuries often extend well into adulthood.’
Child abuse is a very real and prominent social problem today. The impact of child abuse affects more than one’s childhood, as the psychological and physical injuries often extend well into adulthood. Most children are defenseless against abuse, are dependent on their caretakers, and are unable to protect themselves from these acts.
Childhood serves as the basis for growth, development, and socialization. Throughout adolescence, children are taught how to become productive and positive, functioning members of society. Much of the socializing of children, particularly in their very earliest years, comes at the hands of family members. Unfortunately, the messages conveyed to and the actions against children by their families are not always the positive building blocks for which one would hope.
In 2008, the Children’s Defense Fund reported that each day in America, 2,421 children are confirmed as abused or neglected, 4 children are killed by abuse or neglect, and 78 babies die before their first birthday. These daily estimates translate into tremendous national figures. In 2006, caseworkers substantiated an estimated 905,000 reports of child abuse or neglect. Of these, 64% suffered neglect, 16% were physically abused, 9% were sexually abused, 7% were emotionally or psychologically maltreated, and 2% were medically neglected. In addition, 15% of the victims experienced “other” types of maltreatment such as abandonment, threats of harm to the child, and congenital drug addiction (National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, 2006). Obviously, this problem is a substantial one.
In the main body, you dwell upon the topic of your paper. You provide your ideas and support them with evidence. The evidence include all the data and material you have found, analyzed and systematized. You can support your point of view with different statistical data, with surveys, and the results of different experiments. Your task is to show that your idea is right, and make the reader interested in the topic.
In this example, a writer analyzes the issue of child abuse: different statistical data, controversies regarding the topic, examples of the problem and the consequences.
II. Estimates of Child Abuse: Methodological Limitations
Several issues arise when considering the amount of child abuse that occurs annually in the United States. Child abuse is very hard to estimate because much (or most) of it is not reported. Children who are abused are unlikely to report their victimization because they may not know any better, they still love their abusers and do not want to see them taken away (or do not themselves want to be taken away from their abusers), they have been threatened into not reporting, or they do not know to whom they should report their victimizations. Still further, children may report their abuse only to find the person to whom they report does not believe them or take any action on their behalf. Continuing to muddy the waters, child abuse can be disguised as legitimate injury, particularly because young children are often somewhat uncoordinated and are still learning to accomplish physical tasks, may not know their physical limitations, and are often legitimately injured during regular play. In the end, children rarely report child abuse; most often it is an adult who makes a report based on suspicion (e.g., teacher, counselor, doctor, etc.).
Even when child abuse is reported, social service agents and investigators may not follow up or substantiate reports for a variety of reasons. Parents can pretend, lie, or cover up injuries or stories of how injuries occurred when social service agents come to investigate. Further, there is not always agreement about what should be counted as abuse by service providers and researchers. In addition, social service agencies/agents have huge caseloads and may only be able to deal with the most serious forms of child abuse, leaving the more “minor” forms of abuse unsupervised and unmanaged (and uncounted in the statistical totals).
III. Child Abuse and Neglect: The Legalities
While most laws about child abuse and neglect fall at the state levels, federal legislation provides a foundation for states by identifying a minimum set of acts and behaviors that define child abuse and neglect. The Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), which stems from the Keeping Children and Families Safe Act of 2003, defines child abuse and neglect as, at minimum, “(1) any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse, or exploitation; or (2) an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk or serious harm.”
Using these minimum standards, each state is responsible for providing its own definition of maltreatment within civil and criminal statutes. When defining types of child abuse, many states incorporate similar elements and definitions into their legal statutes. For example, neglect is often defined as failure to provide for a child’s basic needs. Neglect can encompass physical elements (e.g., failure to provide necessary food or shelter, or lack of appropriate supervision), medical elements (e.g., failure to provide necessary medical or mental health treatment), educational elements (e.g., failure to educate a child or attend to special educational needs), and emotional elements (e.g., inattention to a child’s emotional needs, failure to provide psychological care, or permitting the child to use alcohol or other drugs). Failure to meet needs does not always mean a child is neglected, as situations such as poverty, cultural values, and community standards can influence the application of legal statutes. In addition, several states distinguish between failure to provide based on financial inability and failure to provide for no apparent financial reason.
Statutes on physical abuse typically include elements of physical injury (ranging from minor bruises to severe fractures or death) as a result of punching, beating, kicking, biting, shaking, throwing, stabbing, choking, hitting (with a hand, stick, strap, or other object), burning, or otherwise harming a child. Such injury is considered abuse regardless of the intention of the caretaker. In addition, many state statutes include allowing or encouraging another person to physically harm a child (such as noted above) as another form of physical abuse in and of itself. Sexual abuse usually includes activities by a parent or caretaker such as fondling a child’s genitals, penetration, incest, rape, sodomy, indecent exposure, and exploitation through prostitution or the production of pornographic materials.
Finally, emotional or psychological abuse typically is defined as a pattern of behavior that impairs a child’s emotional development or sense of self-worth. This may include constant criticism, threats, or rejection, as well as withholding love, support, or guidance. Emotional abuse is often the most difficult to prove and, therefore, child protective services may not be able to intervene without evidence of harm to the child. Some states suggest that harm may be evidenced by an observable or substantial change in behavior, emotional response, or cognition, or by anxiety, depression, withdrawal, or aggressive behavior. At a practical level, emotional abuse is almost always present when other types of abuse are identified.
Some states include an element of substance abuse in their statutes on child abuse. Circumstances that can be considered substance abuse include (a) the manufacture of a controlled substance in the presence of a child or on the premises occupied by a child (Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Montana, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Virginia); (b) allowing a child to be present where the chemicals or equipment for the manufacture of controlled substances are used (Arizona, New Mexico); (c) selling, distributing, or giving drugs or alcohol to a child (Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, and Texas); (d) use of a controlled substance by a caregiver that impairs the caregiver’s ability to adequately care for the child (Kentucky, New York, Rhode Island, and Texas); and (e) exposure of the child to drug paraphernalia (North Dakota), the criminal sale or distribution of drugs (Montana, Virginia), or drug-related activity (District of Columbia).
IV. Corporal Punishment Versus Child Abuse
One of the most difficult issues with which the U.S. legal system must contend is that of allowing parents the right to use corporal punishment when disciplining a child, while not letting them cross over the line into the realm of child abuse. Some parents may abuse their children under the guise of discipline, and many instances of child abuse arise from angry parents who go too far when disciplining their children with physical punishment. Generally, state statutes use terms such as “reasonable discipline of a minor,” “causes only temporary, short-term pain,” and may cause “the potential for bruising” but not “permanent damage, disability, disfigurement or injury” to the child as ways of indicating the types of discipline behaviors that are legal. However, corporal punishment that is “excessive,” “malicious,” “endangers the bodily safety of,” or is “an intentional infliction of injury” is not allowed under most state statutes (e.g., state of Florida child abuse statute).
Most research finds that the use of physical punishment (most often spanking) is not an effective method of discipline. The literature on this issue tends to find that spanking stops misbehavior, but no more effectively than other firm measures. Further, it seems to hinder rather than improve general compliance/obedience (particularly when the child is not in the presence of the punisher). Researchers have also explained why physical punishment is not any more effective at gaining child compliance than nonviolent forms of discipline. Some of the problems that arise when parents use spanking or other forms of physical punishment include the fact that spanking does not teach what children should do, nor does it provide them with alternative behavior options should the circumstance arise again. Spanking also undermines reasoning, explanation, or other forms of parental instruction because children cannot learn, reason, or problem solve well while experiencing threat, pain, fear, or anger. Further, the use of physical punishment is inconsistent with nonviolent principles, or parental modeling. In addition, the use of spanking chips away at the bonds of affection between parents and children, and tends to induce resentment and fear. Finally, it hinders the development of empathy and compassion in children, and they do not learn to take responsibility for their own behavior (Pitzer, 1997).
One of the biggest problems with the use of corporal punishment is that it can escalate into much more severe forms of violence. Usually, parents spank because they are angry (and somewhat out of control) and they can’t think of other ways to discipline. When parents are acting as a result of emotional triggers, the notion of discipline is lost while punishment and pain become the foci.
V. Child Abuse Victims: The Patterns
In 2006, of the children who were found to be victims of child abuse, nearly 75% of them were first-time victims (or had not come to the attention of authorities prior). A slight majority of child abuse victims were girls—51.5%, compared to 48% of abuse victims being boys. The younger the child, the more at risk he or she is for child abuse and neglect victimization. Specifically, the rate for infants (birth to 1 year old) was approximately 24 per 1,000 children of the same age group. The victimization rate for children 1–3 years old was 14 per 1,000 children of the same age group. The abuse rate for children aged 4– 7 years old declined further to 13 per 1,000 children of the same age group. African American, American Indian, and Alaska Native children, as well as children of multiple races, had the highest rates of victimization. White and Latino children had lower rates, and Asian children had the lowest rates of child abuse and neglect victimization. Regarding living arrangements, nearly 27% of victims were living with a single mother, 20% were living with married parents, while 22% were living with both parents but the marital status was unknown. (This reporting element had nearly 40% missing data, however.) Regarding disability, nearly 8% of child abuse victims had some degree of mental retardation, emotional disturbance, visual or hearing impairment, learning disability, physical disability, behavioral problems, or other medical problems. Unfortunately, data indicate that for many victims, the efforts of the child protection services system were not successful in preventing subsequent victimization. Children who had been prior victims of maltreatment were 96% more likely to experience another occurrence than those who were not prior victims. Further, child victims who were reported to have a disability were 52% more likely to experience recurrence than children without a disability. Finally, the oldest victims (16–21 years of age) were the least likely to experience a recurrence, and were 51% less likely to be victimized again than were infants (younger than age 1) (National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, 2006).
Child fatalities are the most tragic consequence of maltreatment. Yet, each year, children die from abuse and neglect. In 2006, an estimated 1,530 children in the United States died due to abuse or neglect. The overall rate of child fatalities was 2 deaths per 100,000 children. More than 40% of child fatalities were attributed to neglect, but physical abuse also was a major contributor. Approximately 78% of the children who died due to child abuse and neglect were younger than 4 years old, and infant boys (younger than 1) had the highest rate of fatalities at 18.5 deaths per 100,000 boys of the same age in the national population. Infant girls had a rate of 14.7 deaths per 100,000 girls of the same age (National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, 2006).
One question to be addressed regarding child fatalities is why infants have such a high rate of death when compared to toddlers and adolescents. Children under 1 year old pose an immense amount of responsibility for their caretakers: they are completely dependent and need constant attention. Children this age are needy, impulsive, and not amenable to verbal control or effective communication. This can easily overwhelm vulnerable parents. Another difficulty associated with infants is that they are physically weak and small. Injuries to infants can be fatal, while similar injuries to older children might not be. The most common cause of death in children less than 1 year is cerebral trauma (often the result of shaken-baby syndrome). Exasperated parents can deliver shakes or blows without realizing how little it takes to cause irreparable or fatal damage to an infant. Research informs us that two of the most common triggers for fatal child abuse are crying that will not cease and toileting accidents. Both of these circumstances are common in infants and toddlers whose only means of communication often is crying, and who are limited in mobility and cannot use the toilet. Finally, very young children cannot assist in injury diagnoses. Children who have been injured due to abuse or neglect often cannot communicate to medical professionals about where it hurts, how it hurts, and so forth. Also, nonfatal injuries can turn fatal in the absence of care by neglectful parents or parents who do not want medical professionals to possibly identify an injury as being the result of abuse.
VI. Child Abuse Perpetrators: The Patterns
Estimates reveal that nearly 80% of perpetrators of child abuse were parents of the victim. Other relatives accounted for nearly 7%, and unmarried partners of parents made up 4% of perpetrators. Of those perpetrators that were parents, over 90% were biological parents, 4% were stepparents, and 0.7% were adoptive parents. Of this group, approximately 58% of perpetrators were women and 42% were men. Women perpetrators are typically younger than men. The average age for women abusers was 31 years old, while for men the average was 34 years old. Forty percent of women who abused were younger than 30 years of age, compared with 33% of men being under 30. The racial distribution of perpetrators is similar to that of victims. Fifty-four percent were white, 21% were African American, and 20% were Hispanic/Latino (National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, 2006).
VII. Explanations for Child Abuse
There are many factors that are associated with child abuse. Some of the more common/well-accepted explanations are individual pathology, parent–child interaction, past abuse in the family (or social learning), situational factors, and cultural support for physical punishment along with a lack of cultural support for helping parents here in the United States.
The first explanation centers on the individual pathology of a parent or caretaker who is abusive. This theory focuses on the idea that people who abuse their children have something wrong with their individual personality or biological makeup. Such psychological pathologies may include having anger control problems; being depressed or having post-partum depression; having a low tolerance for frustration (e.g., children can be extremely frustrating: they don’t always listen; they constantly push the line of how far they can go; and once the line has been established, they are constantly treading on it to make sure it hasn’t moved. They are dependent and self-centered, so caretakers have very little privacy or time to themselves); being rigid (e.g., having no tolerance for differences—for example, what if your son wanted to play with dolls? A rigid father would not let him, laugh at him for wanting to, punish him when he does, etc.); having deficits in empathy (parents who cannot put themselves in the shoes of their children cannot fully understand what their children need emotionally); or being disorganized, inefficient, and ineffectual. (Parents who are unable to manage their own lives are unlikely to be successful at managing the lives of their children, and since many children want and need limits, these parents are unable to set them or adhere to them.)
Biological pathologies that may increase the likelihood of someone becoming a child abuser include having substance abuse or dependence problems, or having persistent or reoccurring physical health problems (especially health problems that can be extremely painful and can cause a person to become more self-absorbed, both qualities that can give rise to a lack of patience, lower frustration tolerance, and increased stress).
The second explanation for child abuse centers on the interaction between the parent and the child, noting that certain types of parents are more likely to abuse, and certain types of children are more likely to be abused, and when these less-skilled parents are coupled with these more difficult children, child abuse is the most likely to occur. Discussion here focuses on what makes a parent less skilled, and what makes a child more difficult. Characteristics of unskilled parents are likely to include such traits as only pointing out what children do wrong and never giving any encouragement for good behavior, and failing to be sensitive to the emotional needs of children. Less skilled parents tend to have unrealistic expectations of children. They may engage in role reversal— where the parents make the child take care of them—and view the parent’s happiness and well-being as the responsibility of the child. Some parents view the parental role as extremely stressful and experience little enjoyment from being a parent. Finally, less-skilled parents tend to have more negative perceptions regarding their child(ren). For example, perhaps the child has a different shade of skin than they expected and this may disappoint or anger them, they may feel the child is being manipulative (long before children have this capability), or they may view the child as the scapegoat for all the parents’ or family’s problems. Theoretically, parents with these characteristics would be more likely to abuse their children, but if they are coupled with having a difficult child, they would be especially likely to be abusive. So, what makes a child more difficult? Certainly, through no fault of their own, children may have characteristics that are associated with child care that is more demanding and difficult than in the “normal” or “average” situation. Such characteristics can include having physical and mental disabilities (autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder [ADHD], hyperactivity, etc.); the child may be colicky, frequently sick, be particularly needy, or cry more often. In addition, some babies are simply unhappier than other babies for reasons that cannot be known. Further, infants are difficult even in the best of circumstances. They are unable to communicate effectively, and they are completely dependent on their caretakers for everything, including eating, diaper changing, moving around, entertainment, and emotional bonding. Again, these types of children, being more difficult, are more likely to be victims of child abuse.
Nonetheless, each of these types of parents and children alone cannot explain the abuse of children, but it is the interaction between them that becomes the key. Unskilled parents may produce children that are happy and not as needy, and even though they are unskilled, they do not abuse because the child takes less effort. At the same time, children who are more difficult may have parents who are skilled and are able to handle and manage the extra effort these children take with aplomb. However, risks for child abuse increase when unskilled parents must contend with difficult children.
Social learning or past abuse in the family is a third common explanation for child abuse. Here, the theory concentrates not only on what children learn when they see or experience violence in their homes, but additionally on what they do not learn as a result of these experiences. Social learning theory in the context of family violence stresses that if children are abused or see abuse (toward siblings or a parent), those interactions and violent family members become the representations and role models for their future familial interactions. In this way, what children learn is just as important as what they do not learn. Children who witness or experience violence may learn that this is the way parents deal with children, or that violence is an acceptable method of child rearing and discipline. They may think when they become parents that “violence worked on me when I was a child, and I turned out fine.” They may learn unhealthy relationship interaction patterns; children may witness the negative interactions of parents and they may learn the maladaptive or violent methods of expressing anger, reacting to stress, or coping with conflict.
What is equally as important, though, is that they are unlikely to learn more acceptable and nonviolent ways of rearing children, interacting with family members, and working out conflict. Here it may happen that an adult who was abused as a child would like to be nonviolent toward his or her own children, but when the chips are down and the child is misbehaving, this abused-child-turned-adult does not have a repertoire of nonviolent strategies to try. This parent is more likely to fall back on what he or she knows as methods of discipline.
Something important to note here is that not all abused children grow up to become abusive adults. Children who break the cycle were often able to establish and maintain one healthy emotional relationship with someone during their childhoods (or period of young adulthood). For instance, they may have received emotional support from a nonabusing parent, or they received social support and had a positive relationship with another adult during their childhood (e.g., teacher, coach, minister, neighbor, etc.). Abused children who participate in therapy during some period of their lives can often break the cycle of violence. In addition, adults who were abused but are able to form an emotionally supportive and satisfying relationship with a mate can make the transition to being nonviolent in their family interactions.
Moving on to a fourth familiar explanation for child abuse, there are some common situational factors that influence families and parents and increase the risks for child abuse. Typically, these are factors that increase family stress or social isolation. Specifically, such factors may include receiving public assistance or having low socioeconomic status (a combination of low income and low education). Other factors include having family members who are unemployed, underemployed (working in a job that requires lower qualifications than an individual possesses), or employed only part time. These financial difficulties cause great stress for families in meeting the needs of the individual members. Other stress-inducing familial characteristics are single-parent households and larger family size. Finally, social isolation can be devastating for families and family members. Having friends to talk to, who can be relied upon, and with whom kids can be dropped off occasionally is tremendously important for personal growth and satisfaction in life. In addition, social isolation and stress can cause individuals to be quick to lose their tempers, as well as cause people to be less rational in their decision making and to make mountains out of mole hills. These situations can lead families to be at greater risk for child abuse.
Finally, cultural views and supports (or lack thereof) can lead to greater amounts of child abuse in a society such as the United States. One such cultural view is that of societal support for physical punishment. This is problematic because there are similarities between the way criminals are dealt with and the way errant children are handled. The use of capital punishment is advocated for seriously violent criminals, and people are quick to use such idioms as “spare the rod and spoil the child” when it comes to the discipline or punishment of children. In fact, it was not until quite recently that parenting books began to encourage parents to use other strategies than spanking or other forms of corporal punishment in the discipline of their children. Only recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics has come out and recommended that parents do not spank or use other forms of violence on their children because of the deleterious effects such methods have on youngsters and their bonds with their parents. Nevertheless, regardless of recommendations, the culture of corporal punishment persists.
Another cultural view in the United States that can give rise to greater incidents of child abuse is the belief that after getting married, couples of course should want and have children. Culturally, Americans consider that children are a blessing, raising kids is the most wonderful thing a person can do, and everyone should have children. Along with this notion is the idea that motherhood is always wonderful; it is the most fulfilling thing a woman can do; and the bond between a mother and her child is strong, glorious, and automatic—all women love being mothers. Thus, culturally (and theoretically), society nearly insists that married couples have children and that they will love having children. But, after children are born, there is not much support for couples who have trouble adjusting to parenthood, or who do not absolutely love their new roles as parents. People look askance at parents who need help, and cannot believe parents who say anything negative about parenthood. As such, theoretically, society has set up a situation where couples are strongly encouraged to have kids, are told they will love kids, but then society turns a blind or disdainful eye when these same parents need emotional, financial, or other forms of help or support. It is these types of cultural viewpoints that increase the risks for child abuse in society.
VIII. Consequences of Child Abuse and Neglect
The consequences of child abuse are tremendous and long lasting. Research has shown that the traumatic experience of childhood abuse is life changing. These costs may surface during adolescence, or they may not become evident until abused children have grown up and become abusing parents or abused spouses. Early identification and treatment is important to minimize these potential long-term effects. Whenever children say they have been abused, it is imperative that they be taken seriously and their abuse be reported. Suspicions of child abuse must be reported as well. If there is a possibility that a child is or has been abused, an investigation must be conducted.
Children who have been abused may exhibit traits such as the inability to love or have faith in others. This often translates into adults who are unable to establish lasting and stable personal relationships. These individuals have trouble with physical closeness and touching as well as emotional intimacy and trust. Further, these qualities tend to cause a fear of entering into new relationships, as well as the sabotaging of any current ones.
Psychologically, children who have been abused tend to have poor self-images or are passive, withdrawn, or clingy. They may be angry individuals who are filled with rage, anxiety, and a variety of fears. They are often aggressive, disruptive, and depressed. Many abused children have flashbacks and nightmares about the abuse they have experienced, and this may cause sleep problems as well as drug and alcohol problems. Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and antisocial personality disorder are both typical among maltreated children. Research has also shown that most abused children fail to reach “successful psychosocial functioning,” and are thus not resilient and do not resume a “normal life” after the abuse has ended.
Socially (and likely because of these psychological injuries), abused children have trouble in school, will have difficulty getting and remaining employed, and may commit a variety of illegal or socially inappropriate behaviors. Many studies have shown that victims of child abuse are likely to participate in high-risk behaviors such as alcohol or drug abuse, the use of tobacco, and high-risk sexual behaviors (e.g., unprotected sex, large numbers of sexual partners). Later in life, abused children are more likely to have been arrested and homeless. They are also less able to defend themselves in conflict situations and guard themselves against repeated victimizations.
Medically, abused children likely will experience health problems due to the high frequency of physical injuries they receive. In addition, abused children experience a great deal of emotional turmoil and stress, which can also have a significant impact on their physical condition. These health problems are likely to continue occurring into adulthood. Some of these longer-lasting health problems include headaches; eating problems; problems with toileting; and chronic pain in the back, stomach, chest, and genital areas. Some researchers have noted that abused children may experience neurological impairment and problems with intellectual functioning, while others have found a correlation between abuse and heart, lung, and liver disease, as well as cancer (Thomas, 2004).
Victims of sexual abuse show an alarming number of disturbances as adults. Some dislike and avoid sex, or experience sexual problems or disorders, while other victims appear to enjoy sexual activities that are self-defeating or maladaptive—normally called “dysfunctional sexual behavior”—and have many sexual partners.
Abused children also experience a wide variety of developmental delays. Many do not reach physical, cognitive, or emotional developmental milestones at the typical time, and some never accomplish what they are supposed to during childhood socialization. In the next section, these developmental delays are discussed as a means of identifying children who may be abused.
IX. Determining Abuse: How to Tell Whether a Child Is Abused or Neglected
There are two primary ways of identifying children who are abused: spotting and evaluating physical injuries, and detecting and appraising developmental delays. Distinguishing physical injuries due to abuse can be difficult, particularly among younger children who are likely to get hurt or receive injuries while they are playing and learning to become ambulatory. Nonetheless, there are several types of wounds that children are unlikely to give themselves during their normal course of play and exploration. These less likely injuries may signal instances of child abuse.
While it is true that children are likely to get bruises, particularly when they are learning to walk or crawl, bruises on infants are not normal. Also, the back of the legs, upper arms, or on the chest, neck, head, or genitals are also locations where bruises are unlikely to occur during normal childhood activity. Further, bruises with clean patterns, like hand prints, buckle prints, or hangers (to name a few), are good examples of the types of bruises children do not give themselves.
Another area of physical injury where the source of the injury can be difficult to detect is fractures. Again, children fall out of trees, or crash their bikes, and can break limbs. These can be normal parts of growing up. However, fractures in infants less than 12 months old are particularly suspect, as infants are unlikely to be able to accomplish the types of movement necessary to actually break a leg or an arm. Further, multiple fractures, particularly more than one on a bone, should be examined more closely. Spiral or torsion fractures (when the bone is broken by twisting) are suspect because when children break their bones due to play injuries, the fractures are usually some other type (e.g., linear, oblique, compacted). In addition, when parents don’t know about the fracture(s) or how it occurred, abuse should be considered, because when children get these types of injuries, they need comfort and attention.
Head and internal injuries are also those that may signal abuse. Serious blows to the head cause internal head injuries, and this is very different from the injuries that result from bumping into things. Abused children are also likely to experience internal injuries like those to the abdomen, liver, kidney, and bladder. They may suffer a ruptured spleen, or intestinal perforation. These types of damages rarely happen by accident.
Burns are another type of physical injury that can happen by accident or by abuse. Nevertheless, there are ways to tell these types of burn injuries apart. The types of burns that should be examined and investigated are those where the burns are in particular locations. Burns to the bottom of the feet, genitals, abdomen, or other inaccessible spots should be closely considered. Burns of the whole hand or those to the buttocks are also unlikely to happen as a result of an accident.
Turning to the detection and appraisal of developmental delays, one can more readily assess possible abuse by considering what children of various ages should be able to accomplish, than by noting when children are delayed and how many milestones on which they are behind schedule. Importantly, a few delays in reaching milestones can be expected, since children develop individually and not always according to the norm. Nonetheless, when children are abused, their development is likely to be delayed in numerous areas and across many milestones.
As children develop and grow, they should be able to crawl, walk, run, talk, control going to the bathroom, write, set priorities, plan ahead, trust others, make friends, develop a good self-image, differentiate between feeling and behavior, and get their needs met in appropriate ways. As such, when children do not accomplish these feats, their circumstances should be examined.
Infants who are abused or neglected typically develop what is termed failure to thrive syndrome. This syndrome is characterized by slow, inadequate growth, or not “filling out” physically. They have a pale, colorless complexion and dull eyes. They are not likely to spend much time looking around, and nothing catches their eyes. They may show other signs of lack of nutrition such as cuts, bruises that do not heal in a timely way, and discolored fingernails. They are also not trusting and may not cry much, as they are not expecting to have their needs met. Older infants may not have developed any language skills, or these developments are quite slow. This includes both verbal and nonverbal means of communication.
Toddlers who are abused often become hypervigilant about their environments and others’ moods. They are more outwardly focused than a typical toddler (who is quite self-centered) and may be unable to separate themselves as individuals, or consider themselves as distinct beings. In this way, abused toddlers cannot focus on tasks at hand because they are too concerned about others’ reactions. They don’t play with toys, have no interest in exploration, and seem unable to enjoy life. They are likely to accept losses with little reaction, and may have age-inappropriate knowledge of sex and sexual relations. Finally, toddlers, whether they are abused or not, begin to mirror their parents’ behaviors. Thus, toddlers who are abused may mimic the abuse when they are playing with dolls or “playing house.”
Developmental delays can also be detected among abused young adolescents. Some signs include the failure to learn cause and effect, since their parents are so inconsistent. They have no energy for learning and have not developed beyond one- or two-word commands. They probably cannot follow complicated directions (such as two to three tasks per instruction), and they are unlikely to be able to think for themselves. Typically, they have learned that failure is totally unacceptable, but they are more concerned with the teacher’s mood than with learning and listening to instruction. Finally, they are apt to have been inadequately toilet trained and thus may be unable to control their bladders.
Older adolescents, because they are likely to have been abused for a longer period of time, continue to get further and further behind in their developmental achievements. Abused children this age become family nurturers. They take care of their parents and cater to their parents’ needs, rather than the other way around. In addition, they probably take care of any younger siblings and do the household chores. Because of these default responsibilities, they usually do not participate in school activities; they frequently miss days at school; and they have few, if any, friends. Because they have become so hypervigilant and have increasingly delayed development, they lose interest in and become disillusioned with education. They develop low self-esteem and little confidence, but seem old for their years. Children this age who are abused are still likely to be unable to control their bladders and may have frequent toileting accidents.
Other developmental delays can occur and be observed in abused and neglected children of any age. For example, malnutrition and withdrawal can be noticed in infants through teenagers. Maltreated children frequently have persistent or untreated illnesses, and these can become permanent disabilities if medical conditions go untreated for a long enough time. Another example can be the consequences of neurological damage. Beyond being a medical issue, this type of damage can cause problems with social behavior and impulse control, which, again, can be discerned in various ages of children.
X. Determining Abuse: Interviewing Children
Once child abuse is suspected, law enforcement officers, child protection workers, or various other practitioners may need to interview the child about the abuse or neglect he or she may have suffered. Interviewing children can be extremely difficult because children at various stages of development can remember only certain parts or aspects of the events in their lives. Also, interviewers must be careful that they do not put ideas or answers into the heads of the children they are interviewing. There are several general recommendations when interviewing children about the abuse they may have experienced. First, interviewers must acknowledge that even when children are abused, they likely still love their parents. They do not want to be taken away from their parents, nor do they want to see their parents get into trouble. Interviewers must not blame the parents or be judgmental about them or the child’s family. Beyond that, interviews should take place in a safe, neutral location. Interviewers can use dolls and role-play to help children express the types of abuse of which they may be victims.
Finally, interviewers must ask age-appropriate questions. For example, 3-year-olds can probably only answer questions about what happened and who was involved. Four- to five-year-olds can also discuss where the incidents occurred. Along with what, who, and where, 6- to 8-year-olds can talk about the element of time, or when the abuse occurred. Nine- to 10-year-olds are able to add commentary about the number of times the abuse occurred. Finally, 11-year-olds and older children can additionally inform interviewers about the circumstances of abusive instances.
A conclusion is not a summary of what a writer has already mentioned. On the contrary, it is the last point made. Taking every detail of the investigation, the researcher makes the concluding point. In this part of a paper, you need to put a full stop in your research. You need to persuade the reader in your opinion.
Never add any new information in the conclusion. You can present solutions to the problem and you dwell upon the results, but only if this information has been already mentioned in the main body.
XI. How Can Society Help Abused Children and Abusive Families?
Child advocates recommend a variety of strategies to aid families and children experiencing abuse. These recommendations tend to focus on societal efforts as well as more individual efforts. One common strategy advocated is the use of public service announcements that encourage individuals to report any suspected child abuse. Currently, many mandatory reporters (those required by law to report abuse such as teachers, doctors, and social service agency employees) and members of communities feel that child abuse should not be reported unless there is substantial evidence that abuse is indeed occurring. Child advocates stress that this notion should be changed, and that people should report child abuse even if it is only suspected. Public service announcements should stress that if people report suspected child abuse, the worst that can happen is that they might be wrong, but in the grander scheme of things that is really not so bad.
Child advocates also stress that greater interagency cooperation is needed. This cooperation should be evident between women’s shelters, child protection agencies, programs for at-risk children, medical agencies, and law enforcement officers. These agencies typically do not share information, and if they did, more instances of child abuse would come to the attention of various authorities and could be investigated and managed. Along these lines, child protection agencies and programs should receive more funding. When budgets are cut, social services are often the first things to go or to get less financial support. Child advocates insist that with more resources, child protection agencies could hire more workers, handle more cases, conduct more investigations, and follow up with more children and families.
Continuing, more educational efforts must be initiated about issues such as punishment and discipline styles and strategies; having greater respect for children; as well as informing the community about what child abuse is, and how to recognize it. In addition, Americans must alter the cultural orientation about child bearing and child rearing. Couples who wish to remain child-free must be allowed to do so without disdain. And, it must be acknowledged that raising children is very difficult, is not always gloriously wonderful, and that parents who seek help should be lauded and not criticized. These kinds of efforts can help more children to be raised in nonviolent, emotionally satisfying families, and thus become better adults.
When you write a paper, make sure you are aware of all the formatting requirements. Incorrect formatting can lower your mark, so do not underestimate the importance of this part.
Organizing your bibliography is quite a tedious and time-consuming task. Still, you need to do it flawlessly. For this reason, analyze all the standards you need to meet or ask professionals to help you with it. All the comas, colons, brackets etc. matter. They truly do.
- American Academy of Pediatrics: https://www.aap.org/
- Bancroft, L., & Silverman, J. G. (2002). The batterer as parent. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
- Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, 42 U.S.C.A. § 5106g (1998).
- Childhelp: Child Abuse Statistics: https://www.childhelp.org/child-abuse-statistics/
- Children’s Defense Fund: https://www.childrensdefense.org/
- Child Stats.gov: https://www.childstats.gov/
- Child Welfare League of America: https://www.cwla.org/
- Crosson-Tower, C. (2008). Understanding child abuse and neglect (7th ed.).Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
- DeBecker, G. (1999). Protecting the gift: Keeping children and teenagers safe (and parents sane).New York: Bantam Dell.
- Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire: https://cola.unh.edu/family-research-laboratory
- Guterman, N. B. (2001). Stopping child maltreatment before it starts: Emerging horizons in early home visitation services.Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
- Herman, J. L. (2000). Father-daughter incest. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
- Medline Plus, Child Abuse: https://medlineplus.gov/childabuse.html
- Myers, J. E. B. (Ed.). (1994). The backlash: Child protection under fire.Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
- National Center for Missing and Exploited Children: https://www.missingkids.org/home
- National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System. (2006). Child maltreatment 2006: Reports from the states to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families.
- New York University Silver School of Social Work: https://socialwork.nyu.edu/
- Pitzer, R. L. (1997). Corporal punishment in the discipline of children in the home: Research update for practitioners. Paper presented at the National Council on Family Relations Annual Conference, Washington, DC.
- RAND, Child Abuse and Neglect: https://www.rand.org/topics/child-abuse-and-neglect.html
- Richards, C. E. (2001). The loss of innocents: Child killers and their victims.Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources.
- Straus, M. A. (2001). Beating the devil out of them: Corporal punishment in American families and its effects on children.Edison, NJ: Transaction.
- Thomas, P. M. (2004). Protection, dissociation, and internal roles: Modeling and treating the effects of child abuse.Review of General Psychology, 7(15).
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/
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Research Paper Example: Samples to Write a Research Paper
Want to learn the dos and don’ts of writing a research paper? Learn from examples!
We have compiled some examples to help you get started. If you are in need of a research paper example, take a look at these samples and choose one that is best suited for your research paper writing needs.
You can also use these as templates to create your own research papers. There are many different samples available here so please feel free to browse around and find the perfect one for yourself.
Stay with us to learn more.
What is a Research Paper?
A research paper is different from a usual kind of essay and assignment. It requires more research and explanation than any other assignment and has a set structure for it. It is a complex type of academic paper. Usually, students studying science write them for their coursework and as a degree requirement.
It is generally simpler than high school term papers and a dissertation that students write in humanities and other academic groups. Research papers are common in the academic world, and students, regardless of the field of study, get them as part of their degree requirements.
The research writing skills are invaluable for everyone and not just for the students only. Young professionals and entrepreneurs benefit a lot from these skills. Writing a research paper properly means that you have to study, observe, and choose a topic. The step-by-step guide for writing a research paper will help you find answers to your research questions.
College Research Paper Example
Examples work great when you are looking to learn something in less time and with more efficiency. Below, we have added some good research paper examples. With them, you could learn about a research paper format and structure. Moreover, we will also be able to add relevant and credible sources in each section.
APA Style Research Paper
Below is an APA-style sample research paper guide. Each section is explained separately. By going through it, you will know how to format and write each section of your APA research paper successfully.
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MLA Style Research Paper
This MLA-style research paper explains all the sections and formatting of the paper in detail. This will help you in writing an MLA-style paper successfully.
Subject-Related Research Paper Example
Research papers are not limited to a specific field area. Instead, students need to write research papers for almost every subject. Check out the following research paper examples for several subjects.
Computer Science Research Paper
The research paper is about computer science and how science is a part of it. Scientific research papers are different from what the students do in other disciplines. They are more statistical in nature and often have graphs and visual representations of the data.
Chemical Engineering Research Paper
Chemical engineering studies the engineering of different chemicals and how they work together. The following chemical engineering research paper is about the calcium looping cycle for carbon dioxide obtained from different manufacturing processes.
Nursing Research Paper
The research paper explores the benefits of participating in research. Medical sciences heavily rely on real-life research and results, and therefore, it uses medical professionals as subjects. The paper discusses how the experience contributes to their professional life and helps them work better.
Psychology Research Paper
Psychology is the study of the mind. The paper examines the positive effects of psychology at school. It discusses how it will help in controlling the mental illnesses in adolescents and help in enhancing their health.
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Research Paper Outline Example
A research paper’s outline may consist of different formats and sections based on the research topic. Therefore, you must ask your instructor to go through the research content and guide you.
Before start to write a research paper, you will need to write and submit a research proposal. A research proposal includes the details of your proposed research, the significance of the research, the impact your research will have on the area of research, and the methodology that you will use. For writing a research proposal, you need to discuss all of these factors.
A research paper follows a set pattern and structure. Just like an essay or any other assignment, it also has some sections that you have to include in it. However, before formatting, make sure that you follow the referencing style that your teacher has provided.
The main research paper outline is given below. Pay attention to the document to get a detailed idea of the writing process.
This outline includes the following sections:
An abstract is usually written after the entire paper. It explains the research question and the expected outcome of the research.
Here, we have added an abstract example to help you see how to write an engaging abstract in no time.
It is the first section of the research. It gives a background of the research, explains the main research topic briefly, and presents the hypothesis.
A strong introduction is essential for a strong research paper because no one will read the paper if the introduction is lousy and weak. Go through the attached example to learn how to write a good research paper example.
A thesis statement presents the main topic and aim of the research. It is brief and based on a few lines only.
The following downloadable PDF has some great thesis statement examples that are engaging and help to convey the message powerfully.
This is the meatiest part of the research paper. It includes all the chapters and sections of the research.
The main body of the paper discusses the entire paper in detail. All the main points and arguments of the paper are added in this section. Learn how to add and discuss everything by going through the following downloadable PDF.
It is added in the main body section. It includes the study of previous relevant studies and researches and discusses their outcome. You will discuss your main topic and draw parallels and contrasts with these existing studies.
Discuss the type of research that you are going to use for the research. Usually, scientific research is based on quantitative research and includes statistical analysis. Theoretical research uses qualitative method and includes studying of theory and other research.
This is the closing part of your research paper as you will conclude your research here. Mention your thesis statement and main research findings here and close it.
The conclusion does not mean that you have a chance to add some new ideas or points here; it would be a disaster. To know better, go through the following PDF.
An appendix is an optional section in the research paper. It contains the terms and topics that are too detailed to be added to the main text. It also states the topics and page number, which makes it easier to find relevant topics.
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How to write an excellent research paper for college
Do you often find yourself staring at a blank page screen and do not have any idea on how to approach your intricate and exasperating research paper? Well, you are not alone. Students from all walks of life find the task to be rather challenging and overwhelming. These tasks are complex and consume a lot of time. And since they are integral to your overall academic performance, you need to find a technique(s) that you can use to manage such a task. For instance, you can consider enlisting the help of professional essay writers from a cheap essay writing service. This will help you save the time and energy that you can use to work on your other assignments. Moreover, your grades will not be at risk.
Drafting an excellent research paper necessitates that you know what the task necessitates. Doing so will enable you to develop an effective approach for the assignment. So, what is a research paper? A research paper is an article that purposes to demonstrate your academic knowledge of a subject. Knowing this will help you identify how best to handle your assignment. But, if you do not know or encounter challenges writing your college paper, fret not. Below are some techniques and guidelines that can help you learn how to write a perfect scholarship application essay or order it from CustomEssayOrder.
Familiarize yourself with the assignment
Before you start working on your assignment, ensure you understand what your professor or academic instructor expects of you. The majority of students skip this step, hence wonder why they receive low grades on the assignment(s) they dedicate and devote their time and attention to. In most cases, this happens if you do not read and understand the essay instructions.
Spending ample time going over the task will enable you to comprehend what the task is and how best you ought to approach it. So, to write a perfect college application essay, read the assignment, prompt, as well as the grading rubric. Also, you can highlight and jot down important notes you will use to write the essay. Take time to understand how you should handle the essay. And, if you need any clarification, do not hesitate to ask your professor for help.
Choose a topic
Once you comprehend what your assignment expects of you, decide on what to write about. This may be daunting, but do not exhaust yourself. It can be beneficial to write about something you are passionate about and have an interest in. But, you should not worry about selecting the perfect essay topic. A controversial college application essay topic can be ideal in most cases. Not only will it help you to exercise your ability to elucidate differing positions in an objective manner but also defend them if the task calls for it. Use your instructor’s guidelines to help you choose your essay topic.
After choosing a topic for your paper, you need to gather the information that you will include in your essay. This step is quite flexible. All you need to do is gather and collect information from credible and reliable sources. You can use a school library or the internet to collect information for your paper. And while at it, ensure that you do not spend a lot of time on research. You also have to write your essay, which also needs you to devote enough time to it.
Develop a thesis
Now that you are aware of what you need to do and have a topic that fits your task, articulate your opinion, assertion, or argument. Regardless of whether you are arguing for or against something, your article ought to have a thesis. This is a short statement that you, as the writer and researcher, put forward for the audience to show what you are trying to elucidate or prove. A thesis statement shows what your paper is about. It ought to be definitive and not about you. You can read through college application essay examples and see how professional writers develop their thesis statements.
Create an outline
The next step to drafting a perfect research paper for college is developing an outline. The significance and fundamentality of creating one are that it helps make the writing process simpler. An outline acts as a road map for your essay. Jot down all the information you have been able to gather from your research in the outline. Use the college essay format to create your outline. It should include an introduction, body, and conclusion.
Ask for assistance
Writing the paper can be quite challenging if you are unsure of some of the instructions. But, that should not trouble you. If you find it difficult to continue writing your paper, or are unable to comprehend some of the essay instructions, ask for clarification from your academic instructor. Or better yet, you can enlist the assistance of an enthusiastic and proficient essay writer from writemyessayforme.co.uk. With the help of an expert, it will be easy for you to proceed with writing the article.
Write the essay
Write your paper using all the information you have in the outline. Remember that you need to stick with the structure and format of an application paper. Begin your article with an intriguing introduction. The readers need to have an interest in reading the rest of the entire paper. Incorporate the thesis in the introduction paragraph. After, state and support your assertions in the body, starting with the main one. Then, conclude your paper with a captivating conclusion.
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Proofread and edit
After writing your research paper, do not be in a hurry to submit it. Give yourself some time before you start revising and editing it. Unwind from the tiresome writing process by taking a stroll, exercising, or eating something. Then, get back to your paper. Proofread and edit all the mistakes that you come across. Ascertain that your essay is plagiarism-free and does not encompass any punctuation, typos, grammatical, or spelling errors. Also, ensure that it flows in a smooth manner and that your assertions are not contradictory.
Also, you can hire a professional writer from a reliable essay service to revise the paper for you.
In conclusion, writing a college research paper does not need to be daunting and infuriating. As long as you know what it is and what is expected of you, you are good to go. Additionally, you need to know how to format a college application essay. And, if you encounter any challenges managing your assignment, ask for help from a professional writer or use the tips and guidelines above.