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Writing a Research Paper

This handout provides a model that you can follow in conducting research and developing your findings into a paper. It must be understood, however, that there is no single "best" approach to writing research papers; the process you use will ultimately depend on your particular inclinations as a reader, a thinker, and a writer. Whatever the methods you use, however, it is essential that you begin the research/writing process by narrowing your topic, whether it is one that you have chosen yourself, or one that has been assigned to you. Otherwise, your ensuing research will be unmanageably open-ended.

Let us consider this model and then "imagine our way through it" by applying it to a sample research topic.


Choose a subject
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Generate preliminary ideas
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Narrow your subject
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Devise a tentative research question(s)
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Conduct focused research , keeping meticulous notes (ideally on index cards)
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Devise a working thesis statement
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Create a working outline
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Develop, from that outline, a 1st draft
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Leave and return to that draft; ideally, have it assessed by a reliable second reader
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Revise as necessary
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Proofread / Edit

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