A research paper (term paper) is a paper or essay written by a student after investigating a topic, organizing the information, and drawing a conclusion. The topic may be assigned by an instructor or chosen by the student. The paper's topic is, of course, the logical starting point.
A research paper may be written and researched by the student over the course of a semester, or at least a good portion of it. A large percentage of the student's grade in that particular class may be based upon the research paper (for instance 25%).
A research paper generally addresses a single topic or theme.
Once the topic for the research paper has been determined, it's time to start doing some research. Take copious notes as you look at each source. The notes will be the foundation of the sentences that you write in your research paper.
Encyclopedias are a great place to start for a broad overview of your topic. You may have an encyclopedia on CD at home which you can look at, or an actual printed Britannica or Collier's Encyclopedia to thumb through for information. If not, the library has plenty of encyclopedias.
Yahoo's reference site (education.yahoo.com/reference/) has free access to the Columbia Encyclopedia with very little advertising to clutter up your search results, and since this is a professionally published, researched and reviewed encyclopedia, the results and information may be preferable to using Wikipedia or encyclopedia.com as a source for your research paper.
Be wary of using the Internet to research your paper. There's a lot of good information out there, but there's also a lot of unedited, unreviewed, unreliable, and opinion-based information out there too. It can sometimes be hard to distinguish reliable information and fact from junk. That's why going to well-known, printed sources is a good idea.
Next, check your library for books about your topic. Books go into greater detail than encyclopedias do, and you'll probably need the greater detail that they provide. Always use more than one book as a source for different perspectives on your subject matter. And write down the list of references that you use. You may need to provide a bibliography to your instructor as part of the paper.
Newspapers and magazines will also give excellent information regarding your subject. You can search newspapers and magazines at the library or at home using the library's subscription to the EBSCOhost database. This database will give you access to every newspaper or magazine article written about a particular subject almost anytime and anywhere. It is a very powerful research tool and you can use it free at your library, or by entering your library card number when you are at home through your library's website.
Between EBSCOhost, books, and encyclopedias you may have enough information to complete your research paper, but there may also be video documentaries available through your library on DVD, or from services like Netflix, or Google Video. Take notes while you watch!
Write down your thesis statement under the paper's subject title. That is, determine what angle you are going to take in approaching this subject. For instance, if your research paper is about nuclear power, maybe your thesis statement would be "How safe is nuclear power as a source of electricity generation?" Your research would help you answer this question in your mind and provide the body of the paper.
After doing research, gathering notes, and coming up with your thesis statement, write the outline.
Introduction (include your thesis)
Body (include details from your research notes that expand upon and support or answer your thesis)
Once you have an outline you can start writing. Don't copy sentences directly from any of your sources unless you are quoting the source. All information should be filtered through your own brain and experience and written in your own words. This will result in a unique and interesting research paper.
When you've finished the conclusion, reread the whole paper again and revise and edit it. When you're satisfied that you have addressed the thesis statement properly and you think you are done, have someone else read your paper for you. Another pair of eyes will almost always find things wrong that you simply overlook because you are too close to the material. Turn on page numbering to make sure the pages will stay in order when printed.
GradeAedits.com will be happy to be the fresh set of eyes you need to edit or proofread your research paper, but at the very least have a parent or a friend take a look. You won't be sorry and you may very well avoid losing points for simple, overlooked errors.
Once your paper is in its final draft condition (no errors!), print out a copy on heavier quality, white printer paper, making sure that your printer inks are working properly and not smudging. Check out each page of your research paper to ensure that each page has actually printed and is legible. (Keep it away from your hungry dog!)
Good luck and we hope your grade is an A for all your effort. Call, text, or e-mail us today and we can help make sure your research paper is the best it can be.