I think as seniors, you are often required by your instructors to do some library research on this topic or that. And, in the end, you have to write a research paper, right? Then what is writing a research paper like? How are we going to write one? What are the steps in producing a research paper and what are the points we need to take care of? In today’s lecture, I’ll try to answer these questions.
First of all, what is writing a research paper like? We may start by comparing it to an ordinary essay, a form of writing you are very familiar with. Writing a research paper is much like writing an essay. Both kinds of writing involve many of the same basic steps. That is, choosing a topic, asking questions to define and develop the topic, identifying the audience, getting raw material to work with, outlining the paper, writing it, and, finally, revising it. These are the steps shared between research paper writing and essay writing.
Is there any difference, you may ask. Yes. What makes a research paper different is that much of your raw material comes not from your own head, but from printed sources: mainly books and periodicals in the library. Collecting raw material, that is reading books and taking notes, is very much like the process of brainstorming at the prewriting stage of an ordinary essay.
Generally speaking, there are two basic types of research papers, and a paper may belong to either type. It may be a survey of facts and opinions available on a given topic or an analytical argument that uses those facts and opinions to prove a point. Your instructor may tell you which kind of paper you are expected to write. If not, you yourself should eventually choose between surveying and arguing. You will then have a definite way of managing your sources.