Research Process Steps - Your Ultimate Guide for Best Papers

In order to stand out from the crowd with research papers, each student has to know where to start. So, BestEssayEducation gathered all the vital secrets to create the best college papers in this ultimate guide for students

Created By Lauren
On Feb 23, 2017
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College brings a lot of uncertainties – new roommates, living within a budget, making new connections, etc. One thing, however, is quite certain – research paper assignments. You will have many - in fact an average of 32 papers - to write during your four-year march to a Bachelor’s. While you were possibly able to be a bit lazy with the steps in research process in high school, you do not have that luxury now. Every paper you write will be judged on the research you have used, the validity of your thesis statement or research question, and, of course, those pesky details, such as sticking with the specified research paper format style. Here’s a step-by-step guide that should get you great results – results that translate into great grades.

Step I: Selection and Refinement of a Topic

If you goof at this point, your entire paper will suffer, so you have to get this right. In high school, you perhaps chose a factual topic, let’s say, the “Causes of the Civil War” or “Pollution of our Oceans.” These topics required you to research facts and report them. You are in the “big leagues” now, and that will not do.

Here are the important parts of selecting that topic:

  • Understand the parameters provided by your instructor. S/he will have guidelines – stick to them.
  • Go through your text and your class notes, and find a topic that interests you. This is important – if you don’t like the topic, the entire process will be drudgery. When you do find a topic, it might be a good idea to run it by your instructor. Another suggestion – try to find one that is not common. When instructors have the chance to read something different, they are happier.
  • Check out research available on your topic. You can usually gauge the refinement of your topic by checking out what research currently exists. If there is too little, you will need to broaden your topic, and vice versa.
  • You need a scholarly thesis. Usually, you can get to this thesis by turning your topic into a question. Instead of “ocean pollution,” for example, you might ask, “What are the newest technologies for cleaning up our oceans?” or “What are the politics that hinder cleaning up our oceans?” These questions will give you your research question and, once you have done some initial research, your thesis statement.

Step 2: The Preliminary Research

In the course of selecting your topic, you have done some preliminary research, if only to confirm that there are appropriate and scholarly resource materials available on the topic. If you are in grad school, specifically working on your thesis or dissertation, then your preliminary research will entail much more. You will be using it in writing a research proposal and so will be taking notes as you thoroughly review that research. Do a good job here, because not only will you use that content for your proposal, these resources can form a part of your total body of research for writing a literature review section or chapter.

Step 3: Locating Those Resources

Obviously, the first place to look will be the electronic database of your school library. Using keywords and keyword phrases that relate directly to your topic is all you will need. For a larger swath of resources, particularly for grad students, use ProQuest. Here you will find research articles and other scholarly works (e.g., published theses and dissertations). Here is the thing about selection of resources. Secondary materials are perfectly fine for undergraduate work, so long as the author is a respected scholar in the field. No encyclopedic-like resources are acceptable. Obviously, the Internet is an additional source for material, both through generic searches and through subject directories.

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