Is It Possible To Write A Great Research Paper?

In college, as you take more and more upper-level courses you may find yourself distressed to find that your grades hinge on a single assignment: the research paper. The thought of this daunting task may be exacerbated if you haven’t written anything longer than a few pages in years. Doubt fills your mind all day, and you start to wonder if with all of this going on in your mind is it still possible to write a great research paper?

The simple answer is, yes. Few people can easily write an A+ paper in their sleep. They too have to go through tons of preparation, research, and writing to get the same results. So with this being said, if you follow these simple steps, you’ll increase your chances of getting a great grade on your assignment:

  • Know what your instructor expects. Before you get started, make sure you understand what your instructor wants you to do. Read over the assignment several times and underline keywords and action words like classify, clarify, define, etc. If your prompt isn’t clear be sure you ask your instructor directly. You don’t want to get started in the wrong direction.
  • Start planning early. Time-management is a very important aspect of great writing. You want to come up with a schedule for all phases of writing and stick to it. As soon as you know your assignment, get to identifying some topics to research. Then develop a schedule with deadlines for writing a thesis, conducting your research and getting through your first, second and final drafts. Be sure to allow some time in between each phase to get plenty of rest and to refresh your mind from the topic.
  • Start your research early. This is very important if you’re taking a lot of courses. Delaying your research can get you into a lot of trouble if you don’t get started early enough. As soon as you’ve defined your topic it’s a good idea to go straight to library and start on some reading. The longer you spread your work over, the better you will do in finding the evidence you need to support your argument.
  • Don’t delay your writing. Don’t compile weeks and weeks of research and forget to get started on your writing. Stick with your plan and get into writing that first draft. Your ideas may feel all over the place but writing a draft will help you find some structure as well as give you some idea of what arguments work the better than others.
  • Revise your first draft. You should set your first draft aside for a few days before coming back to it for a revision. Rereading with a fresh set of eyes will allow you to be more critical with your writing and help you find parts of your research paper that could be greatly improved with a good rewrite. Perhaps it means moving an entire section or deleting whole paragraphs, the main goal of a revision is to improve the effectiveness of your paper.
  • Proofread and edit your last draft. A polished research paper is much easier to read than one that is filled with typos and grammar errors. Don’t rely on just spellchecker; make sure you print out your paper and diligently check each line for the smallest mistakes.