Research Paper Information

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What is a research paper?

                When you have found a lot of information on a specific topic and you write about it in paragraph format, you have written a research paper.  A research paper can be any length, but it is a formal paper that includes documentation of the sources where you found your information.  It includes a title page, outline, text with documentation, and a bibliography.  The text of the paper needs an introduction and conclusion.  To make your paper clear and show the relationship between facts, opinions, and other ideas, you must use transitional phrases to lead your reader from paragraph to paragraph.  In a research paper, your goal is to prove your “thesis statement” to the reader.  A thesis statement is the main idea of the whole paper. 

Why write a research paper?

                Finding information is fundamental to just about everything in life.  Granted, you may not need to write about all the research you explore, especially in a formal format, but learning how to do just that teaches many skills.  If you are planning to attend college, chances are very high that you will need to do at least one (probably many more) research paper during your time studying there.  Research is also common in the workplace.  You may be asked to find information on different pieces of equipment or techniques.  Your boss will expect you to use more than one source and be able to compare the facts to determine what is best for the company.  Research papers will sharpen your library skills, teach you how to properly use documentation, give you experience in formal writing, and let you practice your typing skills.

What are the steps involved in writing a research paper?

                Working through the process of finding information, organizing, writing, and presenting on a topic is a lengthy ordeal.  We will spend a month at least, probably more, on this unit.  You will be given a folder to keep everything related to this project in.  Do not throw away anything!!  We will begin by choosing a topic.  After preliminary research has been done, you will be able to develop a general outline of what you will further research and write about.  While you find information, you will keep track of your sources and take notes from them.  When you feel you have enough information, you will begin to organize your notes based on your general outline.  You will likely find some information that you want to include that doesn’t fit.  As a result, the general outline will be revised and refined with additions and deletions until it is detailed enough to include everything you feel is important.

                Once this information-finding process is complete, you will begin writing.  Your notes have already been organized so the first draft is easy to get onto paper.  As we know, the essence of writing comes in editing and revision, and this is a long part of the process.  You will look for and change spelling errors, word usage mistakes, and other typical proofreading items.  However, you will also need to decide if your paper flows nicely from idea to idea.  If you have not included an introduction and conclusion, these must be added.  You will also need to decide which information is common knowledge and which you should document to credit your sources.

                When you decide that your paper is at its best, you will choose, if you haven’t already, an appropriate title.  The final printing of the research paper includes a title page along with your final outline and paper.  It also has a bibliography, or works cited, page at the end detailing your sources.

When do I have to have this done?

                As stated before, this will be a lengthy project.  You will have several due dates to help you keep on track.  Most of these will be decided as we go so I know each student is ready to move on to the next step.  Use this page to write the due dates on as you get them.

                1.  Research Paper Proposal (5):  ___________________

                2.  Preliminary outline (  ):  _________________

                3.  Revised outline/preliminary thesis (        ):  _________________

                                with all sources and at least 15 note cards started

                4.  Revised outline/50% of notecards (            ):  _________________

                5.  Completed notecards (total number) (          ):  _________________

                6.  Final outline and coded notecards (20, 20):  ________________

                7.  First draft (50):  _____________________

                                with detailed final outline, text, bibliography, and 2 peer editors’ notes

                8.  Second draft (30):  ___________________

                                with draft of title page, final outline, text, and bibliography

                                also turn in your coded note cards and source cards


                9.  Final copy (30):  _____________________

                                in published form

You will be given the due dates as we go, and based on time constraints and extension needs some dates may change.

What do I need to know to get this done?

                We will go through each step in class, but this will serve as a general description of the different areas of the process.  The extra space between each step is for any notes you choose to add during class discussions.

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