In this video, I’ll go through the step-by-step process I use when writing a research paper.
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**** A truncated transcript follows. A full transcript can be found at www.marblejar.net. ****
Hi, everyone! This is Lara Hammock from the Marble Jar channel and in today’s video, I’ll go through the step-by-step process I use when writing a research paper.
Every person is different, but I think there are some basic steps to writing a good research paper — and it doesn’t involve just typing out as many words on a topic that you can possibly think of. Now, these are fairly generic steps, but I think they would apply the majority of research papers give or take a couple. If your paper is 8 pages or longer, I would strongly urge you to plan out the steps for your paper at least 4 weeks in advance. You can watch my video on planning out big projects or research papers. I’ll give you an idea of how long I think most of these steps would take for a 15 page paper and you can adjust accordingly based on your assignment and general research and writing speed. Here we go:
1. Understand the instructions – read through the instructions for the assignment thoroughly and make notes! It’s obviously really important to understand exactly what the assignment is asking for and as early as possible. You don’t want to find that you don’t understand something when you are down to the wire. Plus, if you have questions, I guarantee that you are not the only one! Oh, and if you want to get a good grade — you need to follow the assignment instructions even if you think its a dumb assignment. I have learned that the hard way. Take the 30 minutes that it takes to understand the assignment completely.
2. Choose a topic – After you’ve figured out what the assignment is asking, you’ll need to pick a topic. You can pick one out of the air, but I would suggest choosing a couple of topics that seem interesting to you and then doing some superficial research just to make sure that there is enough interesting information out there to do a paper on. If you don’t do this, you may have to change your topic later in the process after you’ve wasted considerable mental energy. This step can take 1-2 hours depending on how much research you do on your possible topics.
3. Build a basic outline – Now that you have a topic, you are going to build a basic outline for your paper based on the instructions given. I’m going to do a video on some of the outline tools that i use, but there is no need to be fancy — just make a list of the section and some bullets underneath them to give more detail. At this point, you haven’t fully researched yet, so this outline won’t be very detailed until you do. For example, I did a paper recently that asked me to explore a concept and gave several areas that needed to be addressed in the paper: a definition, two related theoretical perspectives, how the concept has changed over time, current practice or policy issues, and how these issues might differ for two countries. Based on these instructions, i put together the following initial outline. If your teacher or professor provides exemplars or examples of exemplary papers from previous classes, i always use those to help me build a good outline. I try to ignore the content since I don’t want to be overly influenced by someone else’s work, but I will not hesitate to completely rip off a good structural design for a paper! As long as it flows with the way I think. This should take you no more than an hour.
4. Make a list of relevant research studies – now you are going to use all of your resources, online and otherwise, to make a list of studies and articles to read for your paper. You can use Google Scholar or if your learning institution has a library portal, you will have even better access to research journals and other scholarly resources. I have a video that covers how I keep and reference this information, but for this step, you are just gathering a giant list of things to read that may be relevant for your research. Compiling this list can take 2 to 4 hours. . . .
**** A full transcript can be found at www.marblejar.net. ****