A research paper is a comprehensive paper that allows the writer to share valuable information gathered from a variety of viable and professional resources. The primary purpose of a research paper is to disclose relevant information with the reader which has been gathered from a number of credible sources such as databases, academic publications, books and journals, as well as web-based resources. Research papers can cover a vast range of diverse topics that can be debated, explained, and reasoned so that the reader can become more knowledgeable on a subject or can even change their own point of view.

Every student, no matter what academic level they are, at one time or another will be assigned a research paper. Professors or instructors will generally assign a specific topic so that the student can further explore and expound on a subject, yet, when a research paper is assigned as a final project for a specific class, the selection of a topic will be entirely up to the student.

Research paper writing generally follows the same structure as any other academic paper: It will begin with an introduction which is focuses on the thesis statement. Your thesis statement, or main idea, will clearly state what the purpose of your paper is, as well as include detailed information your reader can expect as they continue reading. A research paper’s thesis statement can also be in the form of a question which will need to be answered in the body paragraphs of the paper. Developing a well-written thesis statement is paramount to its success, but you will also have to capture and hold your reader’s attention as well for it to be an effective one.

The body of your research paper will include all the research you have gathered from a variety of sources. This information, along with your perspective, will include data, statistics, reports and other ‘evidence’ which supports your thesis statement. It will be necessary to cite each work, as well as provide a bibliography for the work (of authors) you have included in your text. Including a reference page ensures both the validity and credibility of the information your research paper is comprised of.

A research paper can be written on almost any subject and there are a vast number of resources that can be instrumental in writing one whether it is for a business course, literature course, or history course. Depending on your subject, the internet alone can provide a wide range of sources, as can databases or academic library sources.

A well written research paper is certainly a time consuming task-sometimes taking months to complete the research and writing process that is involved. Yet, it can be accomplished! Drafting an outline for your paper can make the writing process much easier when you are ready to begin. Choosing your topic and narrowing down your thesis statement with be the first critical step. You will also want to allow yourself enough time to gather all your sources and become familiar with them so you can articulate your findings in a clear, concise, and logical manner during the writing process. An important last step will be to proofread and edit your research paper- after you have ‘polished it to perfection’ it will be ready to hand in and receive that A you have worked so hard for!

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