Writing the body of a research paper

Parts of Research Paper: Definition and Guidelines

There are several parts that should be included in a research paper: title page, abstract, introduction, methodology chapter, body and conclusion. However, some of these parts may be optional, depending on the type and level of your paper. For example, you most likely will not be asked to write a methodology chapter for a small college paper, and the usage of a title page depends on the style of the paper, for example, APA or MLA.
The parts of a research paper should be clearly connected with each other, that is to say, they should be arranged in the logical order and the paper should be structured in such a way that a reader could easily find all the necessary information there. In fact, the basic outline of a paper is a gradual description of your topic and its illustration by the examples.

This article is created to show you the excellent outline of a research paper and how to implement it in writing. Should you still have any difficulties writing research paper, you can order your research paper in the on-line custom system of P rof E ssays.com .

Quick Navigation through the Parts of Research Paper Page

Download Free Sample of the Research Paper Structure

General Guidelines to a Research Paper Writing:

All sources, such as printed books, book chapters, newspaper articles and websites should be properly cited in the research paper writing.

Focus on your research paper topic.

Colloquial language must be avoided, do not address readers directly, and do not use informal words in writing research papers.

Key points must be written in logical order.

Make sure that you start each new paragraph with an indent.

Facts must be set out in present tense.

When you are given a research title be sure to identify the level of difficulties before forging ahead with your writing.

Define and declare the significance of a research paper before embarking on any research writing.

Understand the type of essay to use it in writing your research paper. For instance you could be given a research paper title that requires you to persuade, or argue. How would you do this?

Detailed information gathering is requested in writing a good research paper.

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Writing is an academic activity that induces fear and trepidation in students because the failure to express their opinion and to present good writing skills will lead to the dire consequences among which there are low grades and eventual failure if this tendency is not ceased immediately. Which therefore means that the segments that make up a research paper must be complete and well presented to result in a well written research paper, so a writer ought to learn how to identify, define and apply the parts that make up a research paper.

Research Paper Title Page

One of the parts of a research paper is the title page. You should also take into account the style of your research paper. For example, in the MLA format research style a title page is essential only if it is required by your teacher; in other case you are to write your name, your research topic, the name of your teacher and the number of your course on the first page of your paper. The APA format research style always requests the title page to be the first page of a paper. It should include the running head, the topic of your research, your name and the name of your school or teacher, all centered and double-spaced.

Research Paper Abstract

An abstract is another important part of a research paper. It contains the objective, the summary, and the goal of a research paper and it should consist of 100 to 500 words. Usually an abstract should summarize the whole research, including its key themes and problems and providing the major conclusions. It should not contain figures and references.

Research Paper Introduction

In the introduction, a writer gives a brief explanation to his/her objective in their paper by listing the key points. The explanation must be brief and interesting enough to arise in a reader of your paper a desire to read further. An introduction should include a thesis statement: it comes to inform of a declaration of a writer’s opinion, which forms the basis of the research paper.

Methodology and Framework Chapter

A methodology and framework chapter is a chapter that is included in a large research paper to provide the complete and detailed report of a research process. The methodology should not include the comments of an author not to influence the objectivity of the presentation, as the main aim of this chapter to enable other researches to repeat the procedure of your research step by step and to compare the results. The methodology and framework chapter normally deals with the description of the research subject, methods and tools of the study and methods and tools of the analysis that was used to summarize the final results of the research. However, the results should not be reported in the methodology section as this is the subject of the following chapters.

Body Chapters (click image to enlarge)

This is the main part of the research that contains detailed explanation of the key points written in the separate paragraphs. In this part of the research, there is the discussion on the methodology of the study, the detailed examples, tables and figures must be included and properly cited if necessary. In addition, to attract good marks, it is essential for the research writers to showcase their grammar and sentence structuring skills in this chapter.

Research Paper Conclusion

A conclusion is a short summary of a paper. Any new information should not be introduced here. Just reaffirm the thesis and bring research paper to a very dramatic close. This is a strategy used by such genuine writing companies as P rof E ssays.com .

To achieve a successful research paper writing there is a need to define, recognize and apply the parts of research paper expertly to obtain the best out of your writing assignment.

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How to Write the Body of an Essay | Drafting & Redrafting

The body is the longest part of an essay. This is where you lead the reader through your ideas, elaborating arguments and evidence for your thesis. The body is always divided into paragraphs.

You can work through the body in three main stages:

  1. Create an outline of what you want to say and in what order.
  2. Write a first draft to get your main ideas down on paper.
  3. Write a seconddraft to clarify your arguments and make sure everything fits together.

This article gives you some practical tips for how to approach each stage.

Table of contents

  1. Start with an outline
  2. Write the first draft
  3. Write the second draft

Start with an outline

Before you start, make a rough outline that sketches out the main points you want to make and the order you’ll make them in. This can help you remember how each part of the essay should relate to the other parts.

However, remember that the outline isn’t set in stone – don’t be afraid to change the organization if necessary. Work on an essay’s structure begins before you start writing, but it continues as you write, and goes on even after you’ve finished writing the first draft.

While you’re writing a certain section, if you come up with an idea for something elsewhere in the essay, take a few moments to add to your outline or make notes on your organizational plans.

Write the first draft

Your goals in the first draft are to turn your rough ideas into workable arguments, add detail to those arguments, and get a sense of what the final product will actually look like.

Write strong body paragraphs

Start wherever you want

Many writers do not begin writing at the introduction, or even the early body paragraphs. Start writing your essay where it seems most natural for you to do so.

Some writers might prefer to start with the easiest section to write, while others prefer to get the most difficult section out of the way first. Think about what material you need to clarify for yourself, and consider beginning there.

Tackle one idea at a time

Each paragraph should aim to focus on one central idea, giving evidence, explanation, and arguments that relate to that idea.

At the start of each paragraph, write a topic sentence that expresses the main point. Then elaborate and expand on the topic sentence in the rest of the paragraph.

When you’ve said everything you have to say about the idea, move onto a new paragraph.

Keep your argument flexible

You may realize as you write that some of your ideas don’t work as well as you thought they would. Don’t give up on them too easily, but be prepared to change or abandon sections if you realize they don’t make sense.

You’ll probably also come up with new ideas that you’d not yet thought of when writing the outline. Note these ideas down and incorporate them into the essay if there’s a logical place for them.

If you’re stuck on one section, move on to another part of the essay and come back to it later.

Don’t delete content

If you begin to dislike a certain section or even the whole essay, don’t scrap it in fit of rage!

If something really isn’t working, you can paste it into a separate document, but keep what you have, even if you don’t plan on using it. You may find that it contains or inspires new ideas that you can use later.

Note your sources

Students often make work for themselves by forgetting to keep track of sources when writing drafts.

You can save yourself a lot of time later and ensure you avoid plagiarism by noting down the name, year, and page number every time you quote or paraphrase from a source.

You can also use a citation generator to save a list of your sources and copy-and-paste citations when you need them.

Avoid perfectionism

When you’re writing a first draft, it’s important not to get slowed down by small details. Get your ideas down on paper now and perfect them later. If you’re unsatisfied with a word, sentence, or argument, flag it in the draft and revisit it later.

When you finish the first draft, you will know which sections and paragraphs work and which might need to be changed. It doesn’t make sense to spend time polishing something you might later cut out or revise.

Research Writing ~ How to Write a Research Paper

Papers should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Your introductory paragraph should grab the reader’s attention, state your main idea and how you will support it. The body of the paper should expand on what you have stated in the introduction. Finally, the conclusion restates the paper’s thesis and should explain what you have learned, giving a wrap up of your main ideas.

1. The Title
The title should be specific and indicate the theme of the research and what ideas it addresses. Use keywords that help explain your paper’s topic to the reader. Try to avoid abbreviations and jargon. Think about keywords that people would use to search for your paper and include them in your title.

2. The Abstract
The abstract is used by readers to get a quick overview of your paper. Typically, they are about 200 words in length (120 words minimum to 250 words maximum). The abstract should introduce the topic and thesis, and should provide a general statement about what you have found in your research. The abstract allows you to mention each major aspect of you topic and helps readers decide whether they want to read the rest of the paper. Because it is a summary of the entire research paper, it is often written last.

3. The Introduction
The introduction should be designed to attract the reader’s attention and explain the focus of the research. You will introduce your overview of the topic, your main points of information, and why this subject is important. You can introduce the current understanding and background information about the topic. Toward the end of the introduction, you add your thesis statement, and explain how you will provide information to support your research questions. This provides the purpose, focus, and structure for the rest of the paper.

4. Thesis Statement
Most papers will have a thesis statement or main idea and supporting facts/ideas/arguments. State your main idea (something of interest or something to be proven or argued for or against) as your thesis statement, and then provide supporting facts and arguments. A thesis statement is a declarative sentence that asserts the position a paper will be taking. It also points toward the paper’s development. This statement should be both specific and arguable. Generally, the thesis statement will be placed at the end of the first paragraph of your paper. The remainder of your paper will support this thesis.

Students often learn to write a thesis as a first step in the writing process, but often, after research, a writers viewpoint may change. Therefore a thesis statement may be one of the final steps in writing.

5. The Literature Review
The purpose of the literature review is to describe past important research and how it specifically relates to the research thesis. It should be a synthesis of the previous literature and the new idea being researched. The review should examine the major theories related to the topic to date and their contributors. It should include all relevant findings from credible sources, such as academic books and peer-reviewed journal articles. You will want to:

  • Explain how the literature helps the researcher understand the topic.
  • Try to show connections and any disparities between the literature.
  • Identify new ways to interpret prior research.
  • Reveal any gaps that exist in the literature.

More about writing a literature review. . . from The Writing Center at UNC-Chapel Hill
More about summarizing. . . from the Center for Writing Studies at the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign

6. The Discussion
​The purpose of the discussion is to interpret and describe what you have learned from your research. Make the reader understand why your topic is important. The discussion should always demonstrate what you have learned from your readings (and viewings) and how that learning has made the topic evolve, especially from the short description of main points in the introduction. Explain any new understanding or insights you have had after reading your articles and/or books. Paragraphs should use transitioning sentences to develop how one paragraph idea leads to the next. The discussion will always connect to the introduction, your thesis statement, and the literature you reviewed, but it does not simply repeat or rearrange the introduction. You want to:

  • Demonstrate critical thinking, not just reporting back facts that you gathered.
  • If possible, tell how the topic has evolved over the past and give it’s implications for the future.
  • Fully explain your main ideas with supporting information.
  • Explain why your thesis is correct giving arguments to counter points.

​7. The Conclusion
A concluding paragraph is a brief summary of your main ideas and restates the paper’s main thesis, giving the reader the sense that the stated goal of the paper has been accomplished. What have you learned by doing this research that you didn’t know before? What conclusions have you drawn? You may also want to suggest further areas of study, improvement of research possibilities, etc. to demonstrate your critical thinking regarding your research.

12.1 Creating a Rough Draft for a Research Paper

At last, you are ready to begin writing the rough draft of your research paper. Putting your thinking and research into words is exciting. It can also be challenging. In this section, you will learn strategies for handling the more challenging aspects of writing a research paper, such as integrating material from your sources, citing information correctly, and avoiding any misuse of your sources.

The Structure of a Research Paper

Research papers generally follow the same basic structure: an introduction that presents the writer’s thesis, a body section that develops the thesis with supporting points and evidence, and a conclusion that revisits the thesis and provides additional insights or suggestions for further research.

Your writing voice will come across most strongly in your introduction and conclusion, as you work to attract your readers’ interest and establish your thesis. These sections usually do not cite sources at length. They focus on the big picture, not specific details. In contrast, the body of your paper will cite sources extensively. As you present your ideas, you will support your points with details from your research.

Writing Your Introduction

There are several approaches to writing an introduction, each of which fulfills the same goals. The introduction should get readers’ attention, provide background information, and present the writer’s thesis. Many writers like to begin with one of the following catchy openers:

  • A surprising fact
  • A thought-provoking question
  • An attention-getting quote
  • A brief anecdote that illustrates a larger concept
  • A connection between your topic and your readers’ experiences

The next few sentences place the opening in context by presenting background information. From there, the writer builds toward a thesis, which is traditionally placed at the end of the introduction. Think of your thesis as a signpost that lets readers know in what direction the paper is headed.

Jorge decided to begin his research paper by connecting his topic to readers’ daily experiences. Read the first draft of his introduction. The thesis is underlined. Note how Jorge progresses from the opening sentences to background information to his thesis.

Beyond the Hype: Evaluating Low-Carb Diets

Over the past decade, increasing numbers of Americans have jumped on the low-carb bandwagon. Some studies estimate that approximately 40 million Americans, or about 20 percent of the population, are attempting to restrict their intake of food high in carbohydrates (Sanders and Katz, 2004; Hirsch, 2004). Proponents of low-carb diets say they are not only the most effective way to lose weight, but they also yield health benefits such as lower blood pressure and improved cholesterol levels. Meanwhile, some doctors claim that low-carb diets are overrated and caution that their long-term effects are unknown. Although following a low-carbohydrate diet can benefit some people, these diets are not necessarily the best option for everyone who wants to lose weight or improve their health.

Exercise 1

Write the introductory paragraph of your research paper. Try using one of the techniques listed in this section to write an engaging introduction. Be sure to include background information about the topic that leads to your thesis.

Writers often work out of sequence when writing a research paper. If you find yourself struggling to write an engaging introduction, you may wish to write the body of your paper first. Writing the body sections first will help you clarify your main points. Writing the introduction should then be easier. You may have a better sense of how to introduce the paper after you have drafted some or all of the body.

Writing Your Conclusion

In your introduction, you tell readers where they are headed. In your conclusion, you recap where they have been. For this reason, some writers prefer to write their conclusions soon after they have written their introduction. However, this method may not work for all writers. Other writers prefer to write their conclusion at the end of the paper, after writing the body paragraphs. No process is absolutely right or absolutely wrong; find the one that best suits you.

No matter when you compose the conclusion, it should sum up your main ideas and revisit your thesis. The conclusion should not simply echo the introduction or rely on bland summary statements, such as “In this paper, I have demonstrated that.…” In fact, avoid repeating your thesis verbatim from the introduction. Restate it in different words that reflect the new perspective gained through your research. That helps keep your ideas fresh for your readers. An effective writer might conclude a paper by asking a new question the research inspired, revisiting an anecdote presented earlier, or reminding readers of how the topic relates to their lives.

Writing at Work

If your job involves writing or reading scientific papers, it helps to understand how professional researchers use the structure described in this section. A scientific paper begins with an abstract that briefly summarizes the entire paper. The introduction explains the purpose of the research, briefly summarizes previous research, and presents the researchers’ hypothesis. The body provides details about the study, such as who participated in it, what the researchers measured, and what results they recorded. The conclusion presents the researchers’ interpretation of the data, or what they learned.

Using Source Material in Your Paper

One of the challenges of writing a research paper is successfully integrating your ideas with material from your sources. Your paper must explain what you think, or it will read like a disconnected string of facts and quotations. However, you also need to support your ideas with research, or they will seem insubstantial. How do you strike the right balance?

You have already taken a step in the right direction by writing your introduction. The introduction and conclusion function like the frame around a picture. They define and limit your topic and place your research in context.

In the body paragraphs of your paper, you will need to integrate ideas carefully at the paragraph level and at the sentence level. You will use topic sentences in your paragraphs to make sure readers understand the significance of any facts, details, or quotations you cite. You will also include sentences that transition between ideas from your research, either within a paragraph or between paragraphs. At the sentence level, you will need to think carefully about how you introduce paraphrased and quoted material.

Earlier you learned about summarizing, paraphrasing, and quoting when taking notes. In the next few sections, you will learn how to use these techniques in the body of your paper to weave in source material to support your ideas.

Summarizing Sources

When you summarize material from a source, you zero in on the main points and restate them concisely in your own words. This technique is appropriate when only the major ideas are relevant to your paper or when you need to simplify complex information into a few key points for your readers.

Be sure to review the source material as you summarize it. Identify the main idea and restate it as concisely as you can—preferably in one sentence. Depending on your purpose, you may also add another sentence or two condensing any important details or examples. Check your summary to make sure it is accurate and complete.

In his draft, Jorge summarized research materials that presented scientists’ findings about low-carbohydrate diets. Read the following passage from a trade magazine article and Jorge’s summary of the article.

Assessing the Efficacy of Low-Carbohydrate Diets

Adrienne Howell, Ph.D.

Over the past few years, a number of clinical studies have explored whether high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets are more effective for weight loss than other frequently recommended diet plans, such as diets that drastically curtail fat intake (Pritikin) or that emphasize consuming lean meats, grains, vegetables, and a moderate amount of unsaturated fats (the Mediterranean diet). A 2009 study found that obese teenagers who followed a low-carbohydrate diet lost an average of 15.6 kilograms over a six-month period, whereas teenagers following a low-fat diet or a Mediterranean diet lost an average of 11.1 kilograms and 9.3 kilograms respectively. Two 2010 studies that measured weight loss for obese adults following these same three diet plans found similar results. Over three months, subjects on the low-carbohydrate diet plan lost anywhere from four to six kilograms more than subjects who followed other diet plans.

Summary

In three recent studies, researchers compared outcomes for obese subjects who followed either a low-carbohydrate diet, a low-fat diet, or a Mediterranean diet and found that subjects following a low-carbohydrate diet lost more weight in the same time (Howell, 2010).

A summary restates ideas in your own words—but for specialized or clinical terms, you may need to use terms that appear in the original source. For instance, Jorge used the term obese in his summary because related words such as heavy or overweight have a different clinical meaning.

Exercise 2

On a separate sheet of paper, practice summarizing by writing a one-sentence summary of the same passage that Jorge already summarized.

Paraphrasing Sources

When you paraphrase material from a source, restate the information from an entire sentence or passage in your own words, using your own original sentence structure. A paraphrased source differs from a summarized source in that you focus on restating the ideas, not condensing them.

Again, it is important to check your paraphrase against the source material to make sure it is both accurate and original. Inexperienced writers sometimes use the thesaurus method of paraphrasing—that is, they simply rewrite the source material, replacing most of the words with synonyms. This constitutes a misuse of sources. A true paraphrase restates ideas using the writer’s own language and style.

In his draft, Jorge frequently paraphrased details from sources. At times, he needed to rewrite a sentence more than once to ensure he was paraphrasing ideas correctly. Read the passage from a website. Then read Jorge’s initial attempt at paraphrasing it, followed by the final version of his paraphrase.

Source

Dieters nearly always get great results soon after they begin following a low-carbohydrate diet, but these results tend to taper off after the first few months, particularly because many dieters find it difficult to follow a low-carbohydrate diet plan consistently.

Summary

People usually see encouraging outcomes shortly after they go on a low-carbohydrate diet, but their progress slows down after a short while, especially because most discover that it is a challenge to adhere to the diet strictly (Heinz, 2009).

After reviewing the paraphrased sentence, Jorge realized he was following the original source too closely. He did not want to quote the full passage verbatim, so he again attempted to restate the idea in his own style.

Summary

Because it is hard for dieters to stick to a low-carbohydrate eating plan, the initial success of these diets is short-lived (Heinz, 2009).

Exercise 3

On a separate sheet of paper, follow these steps to practice paraphrasing.

  1. Choose an important idea or detail from your notes.
  2. Without looking at the original source, restate the idea in your own words.
  3. Check your paraphrase against the original text in the source. Make sure both your language and your sentence structure are original.
  4. Revise your paraphrase if necessary.

Quoting Sources Directly

Most of the time, you will summarize or paraphrase source material instead of quoting directly. Doing so shows that you understand your research well enough to write about it confidently in your own words. However, direct quotes can be powerful when used sparingly and with purpose.

Quoting directly can sometimes help you make a point in a colorful way. If an author’s words are especially vivid, memorable, or well phrased, quoting them may help hold your reader’s interest. Direct quotations from an interviewee or an eyewitness may help you personalize an issue for readers. And when you analyze primary sources, such as a historical speech or a work of literature, quoting extensively is often necessary to illustrate your points. These are valid reasons to use quotations.

Less experienced writers, however, sometimes overuse direct quotations in a research paper because it seems easier than paraphrasing. At best, this reduces the effectiveness of the quotations. At worst, it results in a paper that seems haphazardly pasted together from outside sources. Use quotations sparingly for greater impact.

When you do choose to quote directly from a source, follow these guidelines:

  • Make sure you have transcribed the original statement accurately.
  • Represent the author’s ideas honestly. Quote enough of the original text to reflect the author’s point accurately.
  • Never use a stand-alone quotation. Always integrate the quoted material into your own sentence.
  • Use ellipses (…) if you need to omit a word or phrase. Use brackets [ ] if you need to replace a word or phrase.
  • Make sure any omissions or changed words do not alter the meaning of the original text. Omit or replace words only when absolutely necessary to shorten the text or to make it grammatically correct within your sentence.
  • Remember to include correctly formatted citations that follow the assigned style guide.

Jorge interviewed a dietician as part of his research, and he decided to quote her words in his paper. Read an excerpt from the interview and Jorge’s use of it, which follows.

Source

Personally, I don’t really buy into all of the hype about low-carbohydrate miracle diets like Atkins and so on. Sure, for some people, they are great, but for most, any sensible eating and exercise plan would work just as well.

Summary

Registered dietician Dana Kwon (2010) admits, “Personally, I don’t really buy into all of the hype.…Sure, for some people, [low-carbohydrate diets] are great, but for most, any sensible eating and exercise plan would work just as well.”

Notice how Jorge smoothly integrated the quoted material by starting the sentence with an introductory phrase. His use of ellipses and brackets did not change the source’s meaning.

Documenting Source Material

Throughout the writing process, be scrupulous about documenting information taken from sources. The purpose of doing so is twofold:

  1. To give credit to other writers or researchers for their ideas
  2. To allow your reader to follow up and learn more about the topic if desired

You will cite sources within the body of your paper and at the end of the paper in your bibliography. For this assignment, you will use the citation format used by the American Psychological Association (also known as APA style). For information on the format used by the Modern Language Association (MLA style), see Chapter 13 “APA and MLA Documentation and Formatting”.

Citing Sources in the Body of Your Paper

In-text citations document your sources within the body of your paper. These include two vital pieces of information: the author’s name and the year the source material was published. When quoting a print source, also include in the citation the page number where the quoted material originally appears. The page number will follow the year in the in-text citation. Page numbers are necessary only when content has been directly quoted, not when it has been summarized or paraphrased.

Within a paragraph, this information may appear as part of your introduction to the material or as a parenthetical citation at the end of a sentence. Read the examples that follow. For more information about in-text citations for other source types, see Chapter 13 “APA and MLA Documentation and Formatting”.

Summary

Leibowitz (2008) found that low-carbohydrate diets often helped subjects with Type II diabetes maintain a healthy weight and control blood-sugar levels.

The introduction to the source material includes the author’s name followed by the year of publication in parentheses.

Summary

Low-carbohydrate diets often help subjects with Type II diabetes maintain a healthy weight and control blood-sugar levels (Leibowitz, 2008).

The parenthetical citation at the end of the sentence includes the author’s name, a comma, and the year the source was published. The period at the end of the sentence comes after the parentheses.

Creating a List of References

Each of the sources you cite in the body text will appear in a references list at the end of your paper. While in-text citations provide the most basic information about the source, your references section will include additional publication details. In general, you will include the following information:

  • The author’s last name followed by his or her first (and sometimes middle) initial
  • The year the source was published
  • The source title
  • For articles in periodicals, the full name of the periodical, along with the volume and issue number and the pages where the article appeared

Additional information may be included for different types of sources, such as online sources. For a detailed guide to APA or MLA citations, see Chapter 13 “APA and MLA Documentation and Formatting”. A sample reference list is provided with the final draft of Jorge’s paper later in this chapter.

Using Primary and Secondary Research

As you write your draft, be mindful of how you are using primary and secondary source material to support your points. Recall that primary sources present firsthand information. Secondary sources are one step removed from primary sources. They present a writer’s analysis or interpretation of primary source materials. How you balance primary and secondary source material in your paper will depend on the topic and assignment.

Using Primary Sources Effectively

Some types of research papers must use primary sources extensively to achieve their purpose. Any paper that analyzes a primary text or presents the writer’s own experimental research falls in this category. Here are a few examples:

  • A paper for a literature course analyzing several poems by Emily Dickinson
  • A paper for a political science course comparing televised speeches delivered by two presidential candidates
  • A paper for a communications course discussing gender biases in television commercials
  • A paper for a business administration course that discusses the results of a survey the writer conducted with local businesses to gather information about their work-from-home and flextime policies
  • A paper for an elementary education course that discusses the results of an experiment the writer conducted to compare the effectiveness of two different methods of mathematics instruction

For these types of papers, primary research is the main focus. If you are writing about a work (including nonprint works, such as a movie or a painting), it is crucial to gather information and ideas from the original work, rather than relying solely on others’ interpretations. And, of course, if you take the time to design and conduct your own field research, such as a survey, a series of interviews, or an experiment, you will want to discuss it in detail. For example, the interviews may provide interesting responses that you want to share with your reader.

Using Secondary Sources Effectively

For some assignments, it makes sense to rely more on secondary sources than primary sources. If you are not analyzing a text or conducting your own field research, you will need to use secondary sources extensively.

As much as possible, use secondary sources that are closely linked to primary research, such as a journal article presenting the results of the authors’ scientific study or a book that cites interviews and case studies. These sources are more reliable and add more value to your paper than sources that are further removed from primary research. For instance, a popular magazine article on junk-food addiction might be several steps removed from the original scientific study on which it is loosely based. As a result, the article may distort, sensationalize, or misinterpret the scientists’ findings.

Even if your paper is largely based on primary sources, you may use secondary sources to develop your ideas. For instance, an analysis of Alfred Hitchcock’s films would focus on the films themselves as a primary source, but might also cite commentary from critics. A paper that presents an original experiment would include some discussion of similar prior research in the field.

Jorge knew he did not have the time, resources, or experience needed to conduct original experimental research for his paper. Because he was relying on secondary sources to support his ideas, he made a point of citing sources that were not far removed from primary research.

Some sources could be considered primary or secondary sources, depending on the writer’s purpose for using them. For instance, if a writer’s purpose is to inform readers about how the No Child Left Behind legislation has affected elementary education, a Time magazine article on the subject would be a secondary source. However, suppose the writer’s purpose is to analyze how the news media has portrayed the effects of the No Child Left Behind legislation. In that case, articles about the legislation in news magazines like Time, Newsweek, and US News & World Report would be primary sources. They provide firsthand examples of the media coverage the writer is analyzing.

Avoiding Plagiarism

Your research paper presents your thinking about a topic, supported and developed by other people’s ideas and information. It is crucial to always distinguish between the two—as you conduct research, as you plan your paper, and as you write. Failure to do so can lead to plagiarism.

Intentional and Accidental Plagiarism

Plagiarism is the act of misrepresenting someone else’s work as your own. Sometimes a writer plagiarizes work on purpose—for instance, by purchasing an essay from a website and submitting it as original course work. In other cases, a writer may commit accidental plagiarism due to carelessness, haste, or misunderstanding. To avoid unintentional plagiarism, follow these guidelines:

  • Understand what types of information must be cited.
  • Understand what constitutes fair use of a source.
  • Keep source materials and notes carefully organized.
  • Follow guidelines for summarizing, paraphrasing, and quoting sources.

When to Cite

Any idea or fact taken from an outside source must be cited, in both the body of your paper and the references list. The only exceptions are facts or general statements that are common knowledge. Common-knowledge facts or general statements are commonly supported by and found in multiple sources. For example, a writer would not need to cite the statement that most breads, pastas, and cereals are high in carbohydrates; this is well known and well documented. However, if a writer explained in detail the differences among the chemical structures of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, a citation would be necessary. When in doubt, cite.

Fair Use

In recent years, issues related to the fair use of sources have been prevalent in popular culture. Recording artists, for example, may disagree about the extent to which one has the right to sample another’s music. For academic purposes, however, the guidelines for fair use are reasonably straightforward.

Writers may quote from or paraphrase material from previously published works without formally obtaining the copyright holder’s permission. Fair use means that the writer legitimately uses brief excerpts from source material to support and develop his or her own ideas. For instance, a columnist may excerpt a few sentences from a novel when writing a book review. However, quoting or paraphrasing another’s work at excessive length, to the extent that large sections of the writing are unoriginal, is not fair use.

As he worked on his draft, Jorge was careful to cite his sources correctly and not to rely excessively on any one source. Occasionally, however, he caught himself quoting a source at great length. In those instances, he highlighted the paragraph in question so that he could go back to it later and revise. Read the example, along with Jorge’s revision.

Summary

Heinz (2009) found that “subjects in the low-carbohydrate group (30% carbohydrates; 40% protein, 30% fat) had a mean weight loss of 10 kg (22 lbs) over a 4-month period.” These results were “noticeably better than results for subjects on a low-fat diet (45% carbohydrates, 35% protein, 20% fat)” whose average weight loss was only “7 kg (15.4 lbs) in the same period.” From this, it can be concluded that “low-carbohydrate diets obtain more rapid results.” Other researchers agree that “at least in the short term, patients following low-carbohydrate diets enjoy greater success” than those who follow alternative plans (Johnson & Crowe, 2010).

After reviewing the paragraph, Jorge realized that he had drifted into unoriginal writing. Most of the paragraph was taken verbatim from a single article. Although Jorge had enclosed the material in quotation marks, he knew it was not an appropriate way to use the research in his paper.

Summary

Low-carbohydrate diets may indeed be superior to other diet plans for short-term weight loss. In a study comparing low-carbohydrate diets and low-fat diets, Heinz (2009) found that subjects who followed a low-carbohydrate plan (30% of total calories) for 4 months lost, on average, about 3 kilograms more than subjects who followed a low-fat diet for the same time. Heinz concluded that these plans yield quick results, an idea supported by a similar study conducted by Johnson and Crowe (2010). What remains to be seen, however, is whether this initial success can be sustained for longer periods.

As Jorge revised the paragraph, he realized he did not need to quote these sources directly. Instead, he paraphrased their most important findings. He also made sure to include a topic sentence stating the main idea of the paragraph and a concluding sentence that transitioned to the next major topic in his essay.

Working with Sources Carefully

Disorganization and carelessness sometimes lead to plagiarism. For instance, a writer may be unable to provide a complete, accurate citation if he didn’t record bibliographical information. A writer may cut and paste a passage from a website into her paper and later forget where the material came from. A writer who procrastinates may rush through a draft, which easily leads to sloppy paraphrasing and inaccurate quotations. Any of these actions can create the appearance of plagiarism and lead to negative consequences.

Carefully organizing your time and notes is the best guard against these forms of plagiarism. Maintain a detailed working bibliography and thorough notes throughout the research process. Check original sources again to clear up any uncertainties. Allow plenty of time for writing your draft so there is no temptation to cut corners.

Writing at Work

Citing other people’s work appropriately is just as important in the workplace as it is in school. If you need to consult outside sources to research a document you are creating, follow the general guidelines already discussed, as well as any industry-specific citation guidelines. For more extensive use of others’ work—for instance, requesting permission to link to another company’s website on your own corporate website—always follow your employer’s established procedures.

Academic Integrity

The concepts and strategies discussed in this section of Chapter 12 “Writing a Research Paper” connect to a larger issue—academic integrity. You maintain your integrity as a member of an academic community by representing your work and others’ work honestly and by using other people’s work only in legitimately accepted ways. It is a point of honor taken seriously in every academic discipline and career field.

Academic integrity violations have serious educational and professional consequences. Even when cheating and plagiarism go undetected, they still result in a student’s failure to learn necessary research and writing skills. Students who are found guilty of academic integrity violations face consequences ranging from a failing grade to expulsion from the university. Employees may be fired for plagiarism and do irreparable damage to their professional reputation. In short, it is never worth the risk.

How to Write a Body of a Research Paper

The main part of your research paper is called “the body.” To write this important part of your paper, include only relevant information, or information that gets to the point. Organize your ideas in a logical order—one that makes sense—and provide enough details—facts and examples—to support the points you want to make.

The first sentence of your second paragraph should continue the transition from the end of your introduction to present your first topic.Often too, your first sentence will be your “topic sentence,” the sentence that presents the topic, point, or argument that will be presented in the paragraph. The body of the paragraph should contain evidence, in the form of a discussion using quotations and examples, that supports or “proves” the topic. The final sentence of the paragraph should provide a transition to the third paragraph of the paper where the second topic will be presented.

  • The third and fourth paragraphs follow the same format as the second:
  • Transition or topic sentence.
  • Topic sentence (if not included in the first sentence).
  • Supporting sentences including a discussion, quotations, or examples that support the topic sentence.
  • Concluding sentence that transitions to the next paragraph.

The topic of each paragraph will be supported by the evidence you itemized in your outline. However, just as smooth transitions are required to connect your paragraphs, the sentences you write to present your evidence should possess transition words that connect ideas, focus attention on relevant information, and continue your discussion in a smooth
and fluid manner.

Relevance

You presented the main idea of your paper in the thesis statement. In the body, every single paragraph must support that main idea. If any paragraph in your paper does not, in some way, back up the main idea expressed in your thesis statement, it is not relevant, which means it doesn’t have a purpose and shouldn’t be there.

Each paragraph also has a main idea of its own. That main idea is stated in a topic sentence, either at the beginning or somewhere else in the paragraph. Just as every paragraph in your paper supports your thesis statement, every sentence in each paragraph supports the main idea of that paragraph by providing facts or examples that back up that main idea. If a sentence does not support the main idea of the paragraph, it is not relevant and should be left out.

Support

A paper that makes claims or states ideas without backing them up with facts or clarifying them with examples won’t mean much to readers. Make sure you provide enough supporting details for all your ideas. And remember that a paragraph can’t contain just one sentence. A paragraph needs at least two or more sentences to be complete. If a
paragraph has only one or two sentences, you probably haven’t provided enough support for your main idea. Or, if you have trouble finding the main idea, maybe you don’t have one. In that case, you can make the sentences part of another paragraph or leave them out.

Logical order

Arrange the paragraphs in the body of your paper in an order that makes sense, so that each main idea follows logically from the previous one. Likewise, arrange the sentences in each paragraph in a logical order.

If you carefully organized your notes and made your outline, your ideas will fall into place naturally as you write your draft. The main ideas, which are building blocks of each section or each paragraph in your paper, come from the Roman-numeral headings in your outline. The supporting details under each of those main ideas come from the capital-letter headings. In a shorter paper, the capital-letter headings may become sentences that include supporting details, which come from the Arabic numerals in your outline. In a longer paper, the capital letter headings may become paragraphs of their own, which contain sentences with the supporting details, which come from the Arabic numerals in your outline.

Transition Words and Phrases

In addition to keeping your ideas in logical order, transitions are another way to guide readers from one idea to another. Transition words and phrases are important
when you are suggesting or pointing out similarities between ideas, themes, opinions, or a set of facts. As with any perfect phrase, transition words within paragraphs should not be used gratuitously. Their meaning must conform to what you are trying to point out, as shown in the examples below:

  • “Accordingly” or “in accordance with” indicates agreement. For example :Thomas Edison’s experiments with electricity accordingly followed the theories of Benjamin Franklin, J. B. Priestly, and other pioneers of the previous century.
  • “Analogous” or “analogously” contrasts different things or ideas that perform similar functions or make similar expressions. For example: A computer hard drive is analogous to a filing cabinet. Each stores important documents and data.
  • “By comparison” or “comparatively”points out differences between things that otherwise are similar. For example: Roses require an alkaline soil. Azaleas, by comparison, prefer an acidic soil.
  • “Corresponds to” or “correspondingly” indicates agreement or conformity. For example: The U.S. Constitution corresponds to England’s Magna Carta in so far as both established a framework for a parliamentary system.
  • “Equals,”“equal to,” or “equally” indicates the same degree or quality. For example:Vitamin C is equally as important as minerals in a well-balanced diet.
  • “Equivalent” or “equivalently” indicates two ideas or things of approximately the same importance, size, or volume. For example:The notions of individual liberty and the right to a fair and speedy trial hold equivalent importance in the American legal system.
  • “Common” or “in common with” indicates similar traits or qualities. For example: Darwin did not argue that humans were descended from the apes. Instead, he maintained that
    they shared a common ancestor.
  • “In the same way,”“in the same manner,”“in the same vein,” or “likewise,” connects comparable traits, ideas, patterns, or activities. For example: John Roebling’s suspension bridges in Brooklyn and Cincinnati were built in the same manner, with strong cables to support a metallic roadway. Example 2: Despite its delicate appearance, John Roebling’s
    Brooklyn Bridge was built as a suspension bridge supported by strong cables. Example 3: Cincinnati’s Suspension Bridge, which Roebling also designed, was likewise supported by cables.
  • “Kindred” indicates that two ideas or things are related by quality or character. For example: Artists Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin are considered kindred spirits in the Impressionist Movement. “Like” or “as” are used to create a simile that builds reader understanding by comparing two dissimilar things. (Never use “like” as slang, as in: John Roebling was like a bridge designer.) For examples: Her eyes shone like the sun. Her eyes were as bright as the sun.
  • “Parallel” describes events, things, or ideas that occurred at the same time or that follow similar logic or patterns of behavior. For example:The original Ocktoberfests were held to occur in parallel with the autumn harvest.
  • “Obviously” emphasizes a point that should be clear from the discussion. For example: Obviously, raccoons and other wildlife will attempt to find food and shelter in suburban areas as
    their woodland habitats disappear.
  • “Similar” and “similarly” are used to make like comparisons. For example: Horses and ponies have similar physical characteristics although, as working farm animals, each was bred to perform different functions.
  • “There is little debate” or “there is consensus” can be used to point out agreement. For example:There is little debate that the polar ice caps are melting.The question is whether global warming results from natural or human-made causes.

Other phrases that can be used to make transitions or connect ideas within paragraphs include:

  • Use “alternately” or “alternatively” to suggest a different option.
  • Use “antithesis” to indicate a direct opposite.
  • Use “contradict” to indicate disagreement.
  • Use “on the contrary” or “conversely” to indicate that something is different from what it seems.
  • Use “dissimilar” to point out differences between two things.
  • Use “diverse” to discuss differences among many things or people.
  • Use “distinct” or “distinctly” to point out unique qualities.
  • Use “inversely” to indicate an opposite idea.
  • Use “it is debatable,” “there is debate,” or “there is disagreement” to suggest that there is more than one opinion about a subject.
  • Use “rather” or “rather than” to point out an exception.
  • Use “unique” or “uniquely” to indicate qualities that can be found nowhere else.
  • Use “unlike” to indicate dissimilarities.
  • Use “various” to indicate more than one kind.

Writing Topic Sentences

Remember, a sentence should express a complete thought, one thought per sentence—no more, no less. The longer and more convoluted your sentences become, the more likely you are to muddle the meaning, become repetitive, and bog yourself down in issues of grammar and construction. In your first draft, it is generally a good idea to keep those sentences relatively short and to the point. That way your ideas will be clearly stated.You will be able to clearly see the content that you have put down—what is there and what is missing—and add or subtract material as it is needed. The sentences will probably seem choppy and even simplistic.The purpose of a first draft is to ensure that you have recorded all the content you will need to make a convincing argument. You will work on smoothing and perfecting the language in subsequent drafts.

Adding Evidence

Transitioning from your topic sentence to the evidence that supports it can be problematic. It requires a transition, much like the transitions needed to move from one paragraph to the next. Choose phrases that connect the evidence directly to your topic sentence.

Phrases for Supporting Topic Sentences

  • Consider this: (give an example or state evidence).
  • If (identify one condition or event) then (identify the condition or event that will follow).
  • It should go without saying that (point out an obvious condition).
  • Note that (provide an example or observation).
  • Take a look at (identify a condition; follow with an explanation of why you think it is important to the discussion).
  • The authors had (identify their idea) in mind when they wrote “(use a quotation from their text that illustrates the idea).”
  • The point is that (summarize the conclusion your reader should draw from your research).
  • This becomes evident when (name the author) says that (paraphrase a quote from the author’s writing).
  • We see this in the following example: (provide an example of your own).
  • (The author’s name) offers the example of (summarize an example given by the author).

If an idea is controversial, you may need to add extra evidence to your paragraphs to persuade your reader. You may also find that a logical argument, one based solely on your evidence, is not persuasive enough and that you need to appeal to the reader’s emotions. Look for ways to incorporate your research without detracting from your argument.

Writing Transition Sentences

It is often difficult to write transitions that carry a reader clearly and logically on to the next paragraph (and the next topic) in an essay. Because you are moving from one topic to another, it is easy to simply stop one and start another. Great research papers, however, include good transitions that link the ideas in an interesting discussion so that readers can move smoothly and easily through your presentation. Close each of your paragraphs with an interesting transition sentence that introduces the topic coming up in the next paragraph.

Transition sentences should show a relationship between the two topics.Your transition will perform one of the following functions to introduce the new idea:

  • Indicate that you will be expanding on information in a different way in the upcoming paragraph.
  • Indicate that a comparison, contrast, or a cause-and-effect relationship between the topics will be discussed.
  • Indicate that an example will be presented in the next paragraph.
  • Indicate that a conclusion is coming up.

Transitions make a paper flow smoothly by showing readers how ideas and facts follow one another to point logically to a conclusion. They show relationships among the ideas, help the reader to understand, and, in a persuasive paper, lead the reader to the writer’s conclusion.

Each paragraph should end with a transition sentence to conclude the discussion of the topic in the paragraph and gently introduce the reader to the topic that will be raised in the next paragraph. However, transitions also occur within paragraphs—from sentence to sentence—to add evidence, provide examples, or introduce a quotation.

The type of paper you are writing and the kinds of topics you are introducing will determine what type of transitional phrase you should use. Some useful phrases for transitions
appear below. They are grouped according to the function they normally play in a paper. Transitions, however, are not simply phrases that are dropped into sentences. They are constructed to highlight meaning. Choose transitions that are appropriate to your topic and what you want the reader to do. Edit them to be sure they fit properly within the sentence to enhance the reader’s understanding.

Transition Phrases for Comparisons:

  • We also see
  • In addition to
  • Notice that
  • As well as
  • Beside that,
  • In comparison,
  • Likewise,
  • Once again,
  • Similarly,
  • Identically,
  • For example,
  • Comparatively, it can be seen that
  • We see this when
  • This corresponds to
  • In other words,
  • At the same time,
  • By the same token,

Transition Phrases for Contrast:

  • By contrast,
  • On the contrary,
  • However,
  • Nevertheless,
  • An exception to this would be …
  • Alongside that,we find …
  • Besides,
  • On one hand … on the other hand …
  • [New information] presents an opposite view …
  • Conversely, it could be argued …
  • Other than that,we find that …
  • We get an entirely different impression from …
  • One point of differentiation is …
  • Further investigation shows …
  • Moreover,
  • An exception can be found in the fact that …

Transition Phrases to Show a Process:

  • At the top we have … Near the bottom we have …
  • Here we have … There we have …
  • Continuing on,
  • We progress to …
  • Close up … In the distance …
  • In addition to
  • Next,
  • Next up
  • With this in mind,
  • Moving in sequence,
  • Proceeding sequentially,
  • Moving to the next step,
  • First, Second,Third,…
  • Examining the activities in sequence,
  • Sequentially,
  • As a result,
  • The end result is …
  • Thus …
  • To illustrate …
  • Subsequently,
  • One consequence of …
  • If … then …
  • It follows that …
  • Hence,
  • Therefore,
  • This is chiefly due to …
  • The next step …
  • Later we find …

Phrases to Introduce Examples:

  • For example,
  • For instance,
  • Particularly,
  • In particular,
  • This includes,
  • Specifically,
  • To illustrate,
  • One illustration is
  • One example is
  • This is illustrated by
  • This can be seen when
  • This is especially seen in
  • This is chiefly seen when

Transition Phrases for Presenting Evidence:

  • Another point worthy of consideration is
  • At the center of the issue is the notion that
  • Before moving on, it should be pointed out that
  • Another important point is
  • Another idea worth considering is
  • Consequently,
  • Especially,
  • Even more important,
  • Getting beyond the obvious,
  • In spite of all this,
  • It follows that
  • It is clear that
  • More importantly,
  • Most importantly,
  • Therefore,

See the examples of effective transitions for more.

Draft Your Conclusion

Every good paper ends with a strong concluding paragraph. To write a good conclusion, sum up the main points in your paper. To write an even better conclusion, include a sentence or two that helps the reader answer the question, “So what?” or “Why does all this matter?” If you choose to include one or more “So What?” sentences, remember that you still need to support any point you make with facts or examples. Remember, too, that this is not the place to introduce new ideas from “out of the blue.” Make sure that everything you write in your conclusion refers to what you’ve already written in the body of your paper.

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How To Write a Body Paragraph For a Research Paper: Tips For Students

how to write a body paragraph for a research paper

In any given research paper, the body is the toughest part to write. It’s the part that contains all the conducted research, reasoning and argumentation that you have to present. The body of every paper must be coherent, well-structured and logically sound. So with that in mind, let’s delve into how to write a great body paragraph for your research paper.

Lay the foundation

The first step to writing a successful research paper is structuring it properly. Basic structure of any college paper is as follows: an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. Normally, both the introduction and the conclusion are one paragraph each, unless the paper you’re writing is very large. The body can stretch anywhere from three to seven paragraphs.

In order to write a killer body paragraph you need to write a proper thesis. It should express your opinion, be clear and direct. Try to also make it sound interesting and catchy, so that it stays with your reader throughout the essay. Work hard on polishing your thesis statement, since the purpose of every paragraph that follows is to support it.

Proper outline

If you’re one of those people who don’t outline their essays and research papers, you should consider starting. Being brash enough to think that you can plan it all out in your head, or worse – wing it – is a rookie mistake. Start creating your outline by jotting down some broad thoughts you have on the subject. What is it that you have to say on the subject? What are the relevant quotes or data that you’ve found that you think are important enough to be included in the research paper? Structure your arguments and paragraphs accordingly, and keep in mind that, ideally, every paragraph will revolve around one central idea.

Put your arguments in order of least important to most, so that your paper keeps building up until the end. If you want to go above and beyond, include a quote from someone who disagrees with your thesis and argue against them. This is better done in the beginning, or, if you have a particularly contested argument, the end.

Writing the body

Each paragraph in your research paper should itself be rigidly structured. This is not to inhibit your creativity, but to make your work more comprehensible. Every paragraph in the body of your work should have its own “thesis” of, otherwise known as the topic sentence. This is the point of the paragraph, what the rest opif it will be about.

Then comes evidence to support the topic sentence and its analysis. This is when you cite a book, an article or a study and provide an explanation of how this is relevant to what you’re writing about. You can also provide some of your own thoughts on the subject at hand, but be sure to back them up with a credible source.

Not all research papers call for topic sentences, and proficient writers know how to write around them without explicitly including them. But a beginner will do well by placing one at the beginning of each paragraph. Each paragraph in the body of your essay should contain a transitional sentence to usher the passage into the next paragraph.

The logic of your research paper

What will make your body even greater is reading up on logic theory. Since every paragraph, as discussed above, is an argument, you will benefit from learning about inductive and deductive reasoning. Be sure to also look up logical fallacies – errors in reasoning. I assure you, your professors know all of them and can smell one from a mile away. In college essays and research papers, the most common ones are:

  • Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc – “After this, therefore because of this”. If situation a occurs and then directly afterwards b happens, this does not mean that a causes b. Assuming it does is a logical fallacy.
  • Non sequitur – “Does not follow”. Essentially means that the conclusion you came to is not what follows from the presented evidence.
  • The either/or fallacy – occurs when you present the reader with two solutions (one desirable and one undesirable) in a case where many solutions are possible.

These are pretty basic and common mistakes made by students. Be sure to read up on other common logical errors. There is a high possibility that yon can commit at least a few of them.

Writing an Educational Research Paper

There is no one right style or manner for writing an education paper. Content aside, the writing style and presentation of papers in different educational fields vary greatly. Nevertheless, certain parts are common to most papers, for example:

Contains the paper’s title, the author’s name, address, phone number, e-mail, and the day’s date.

Abstract
Not every education paper requires an abstract. However, for longer, more complex papers abstracts are particularly useful. Often only 100 to 300 words, the abstract generally provides a broad overview and is never more than a page. It describes the essence, the main theme of the paper. It includes the research question posed, its significance, the methodology, and the main results or findings. Footnotes or cited works are never listed in an abstract. Remember to take great care in composing the abstract. It’s the first part of the paper the instructor reads. It must impress with a strong content, good style, and general aesthetic appeal. Never write it hastily or carelessly.

A good introduction states the main research problem and thesis argument. What precisely are you studying and why is it important? How original is it? Will it fill a gap in other studies? Never provide a lengthy justification for your topic before it has been explicitly stated.

Indicate as soon as possible what you intend to do, and what you are not going to attempt. You may limit the scope of your paper by any number of factors, for example, time, personnel, gender, age, geographic location, nationality, and so on.

Discuss your research methodology. Did you employ qualitative or quantitative research methods? Did you administer a questionnaire or interview people? Any field research conducted? How did you collect data? Did you utilize other libraries or archives? And so on.

Literature Review
The research process uncovers what other writers have written about your topic. Your education paper should include a discussion or review of what is known about the subject and how that knowledge was acquired. Once you provide the general and specific context of the existing knowledge, then you yourself can build on others’ research. The guide Writing a Literature Review will be helpful here.

This is generally the longest part of the paper. It’s where the author supports the thesis and builds the argument. It contains most of the citations and analysis. This section should focus on a rational development of the thesis with clear reasoning and solid argumentation at all points. A clear focus, avoiding meaningless digressions, provides the essential unity that characterizes a strong education paper.

Conclusion

After spending a great deal of time and energy introducing and arguing the points in the main body of the paper, the conclusion brings everything together and underscores what it all means. A stimulating and informative conclusion leaves the reader informed and well-satisfied. A conclusion that makes sense, when read independently from the rest of the paper, will win praise.

Works Cited/Bibliography
See the Bibliography section.

Appendices
Education research papers often contain one or more appendices. An appendix contains material that is appropriate for enlarging the reader’s understanding, but that does not fit very well into the main body of the paper. Such material might include tables, charts, summaries, questionnaires, interview questions, lengthy statistics, maps, pictures, photographs, lists of terms, glossaries, survey instruments, letters, copies of historical documents, and many other types of supplementary material. A paper may have several appendices. They are usually placed after the main body of the paper but before the bibliography or works cited section. They are usually designated by such headings as Appendix A, Appendix B, and so on.

Writing the body of a research paper

TIP Sheet
HOW TO START (AND COMPLETE) A RESEARCH PAPER

You are a re-entry student and it’s been fourteen years since you’ve written a paper. You coasted through high school on your charm and good looks and never actually wrote a research paper. You have written research papers, but every time is like the first time, and the first time was like a root canal. How do you start? Here is a step-by-step approach to starting and completing a research paper.

  1. Choose a topic.
  2. Read and keep records.
  3. Form a thesis.
  4. Create a mind map or outline.
  5. Read again.
  6. Rethink your thesis.
  7. Draft the body.
  8. Revise.
  9. Add the beginning and end.
  10. Proofread and edit.

You may read this TIP Sheet from start to finish before you begin your paper, or skip to the steps that are causing you the most grief.

1. Choosing a topic: Interest, information, and focus
Your job will be more pleasant, and you will be more apt to retain information if you choose a topic that holds your interest. Even if a general topic is assigned (“Write about impacts of GMO crops on world food supply”), as much as possible find an approach that suits your interests. Your topic should be one on which you can find adequate information; you might need to do some preliminary research to determine this. Go to the Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature in the reference section of the library, or to an electronic database such as Proquest or Wilson Web, and search for your topic. The Butte College Library Reference Librarians are more than happy to assist you at this (or any) stage of your research. Scan the results to see how much information has been published. Then, narrow your topic to manageable size:

Too Broad: Childhood diseases Too Broad: Eating disorders
Focused: Juvenile Diabetes Focused: Anorexia Nervosa

Once you have decided on a topic and determined that enough information is available, you are ready to proceed. At this point, however, if you are having difficulty finding adequate quality information, stop wasting your time; find another topic.

2. Preliminary reading & recordkeeping
Gather some index cards or a small notebook and keep them with you as you read. First read a general article on your topic, for example from an encyclopedia. On an index card or in the notebook, record the author, article and/or book title, and all publication information in the correct format (MLA or APA, for example) specified by your instructor. (If you need to know what publication information is needed for the various types of sources, see a writing guide such as SF Writer.) On the index cards or in your notebook, write down information you want to use from each identified source, including page numbers. Use quotation marks on anything you copy exactly, so you can distinguish later between exact quotes and paraphrasing. (You will still attribute information you have quoted or paraphrased.)

Some students use a particular index card method throughout the process of researching and writing that allows them great flexibility in organizing and re-organizing as well as in keeping track of sources; others color-code or otherwise identify groups of facts. Use any method that works for you in later drafting your paper, but always
start with good recordkeeping.

3. Organizing: Mind map or outline
Based on your preliminary reading, draw up a working mind map or outline. Include any important, interesting, or provocative points, including your own ideas about the topic. A mind map is less linear and may even include questions you want to find answers to. Use the method that works best for you. The object is simply to group ideas in logically related groups. You may revise this mind map or outline at any time; it is much easier to reorganize a paper by crossing out or adding sections to a mind map or outline than it is to laboriously start over with the writing itself.

4. Formulating a thesis: Focus and craftsmanship
Write a well defined, focused, three- to five-point thesis statement, but be prepared to revise it later if necessary. Take your time crafting this statement into one or two sentences, for it will control the direction and development of your entire paper.

For more on developing thesis statements, see the TIP Sheets “Developing a Thesis and Supporting Arguments” and “How to Structure an Essay.”

5. Researching: Facts and examples
Now begin your heavy-duty research. Try the internet, electronic databases, reference books, newspaper articles, and books for a balance of sources. For each source, write down on an index card (or on a separate page of your notebook) the publication information you will need for your works cited (MLA) or bibliography (APA) page. Write important points, details, and examples, always distinguishing between direct quotes and paraphrasing. As you read, remember that an expert opinion is more valid than a general opinion, and for some topics (in science and history, for example), more recent research may be more valuable than older research. Avoid relying too heavily on internet sources, which vary widely in quality and authority and sometimes even disappear before you can complete your paper.

Never copy-and-paste from internet sources directly into any actual draft of your paper. For more information on plagiarism, obtain from the Butte College Student Services office a copy of the college’s policy on plagiarism, or attend the Critical Skills Plagiarism Workshop given each semester.

6. Rethinking: Matching mind map and thesis
After you have read deeply and gathered plenty of information, expand or revise your working mind map or outline by adding information, explanations, and examples. Aim for balance in developing each of your main points (they should be spelled out in your thesis statement). Return to the library for additional information if it is needed to evenly develop these points, or revise your thesis statement to better reflect what you have learned or the direction your paper seems to have taken.

7. Drafting: Beginning in the middle
Write the body of the paper, starting with the thesis statement and omitting for now the introduction (unless you already know exactly how to begin, but few writers do). Use supporting detail to logically and systematically validate your thesis statement. For now, omit the conclusion also.

For more on systematically developing a thesis statement, see TIP sheets “Developing a Thesis and Supporting Arguments” and “How to Structure an Essay.”

8. Revising: Organization and attribution
Read, revise, and make sure that your ideas are clearly organized and that they support your thesis statement. Every single paragraph should have a single topic that is derived from the thesis statement. If any paragraph does not, take it out, or revise your thesis if you think it is warranted. Check that you have quoted and paraphrased accurately, and that you have acknowledged your sources even for your paraphrasing. Every single idea that did not come to you as a personal epiphany or as a result of your own methodical reasoning should be attributed to its owner.

For more on writing papers that stay on-topic, see the TIP Sheets “Developing a Thesis and Supporting Arguments” and “How to Structure an Essay.” For more on avoiding plagiarism, see the Butte College Student Services brochure, “Academic Honesty at Butte College,” or attend the Critical Skills Plagiarism Workshop given each semester.

9. Writing: Intro, conclusion, and citations
Write the final draft. Add a one-paragraph introduction and a one-paragraph conclusion. Usually the thesis statement appears as the last sentence or two of the first, introductory paragraph. Make sure all citations appear in the correct format for the style (MLA, APA) you are using. The conclusion should not simply restate your thesis, but should refer to it. (For more on writing conclusions, see the TIP Sheet “How to Structure an Essay.”) Add a Works Cited (for MLA) or Bibliography (for APA) page.

10. Proofreading: Time and objectivity
Time permitting, allow a few days to elapse between the time you finish writing your last draft and the time you begin to make final corrections. This “time out” will make you more perceptive, more objective, and more critical. On your final read, check for grammar, punctuation, correct word choice, adequate and smooth transitions, sentence structure, and sentence variety. For further proofreading strategies, see the TIP Sheet “Revising, Editing, and Proofreading.”

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