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Writing a Research Paper
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The pages in this section provide detailed information about how to write research papers including discussing research papers as a genre, choosing topics, and finding sources.
The Research Paper
There will come a time in most students' careers when they are assigned a research paper. Such an assignment often creates a great deal of unneeded anxiety in the student, which may result in procrastination and a feeling of confusion and inadequacy. This anxiety frequently stems from the fact that many students are unfamiliar and inexperienced with this genre of writing. Never fear—inexperience and unfamiliarity are situations you can change through practice! Writing a research paper is an essential aspect of academics and should not be avoided on account of one's anxiety. In fact, the process of writing a research paper can be one of the more rewarding experiences one may encounter in academics. What is more, many students will continue to do research throughout their careers, which is one of the reasons this topic is so important.
Becoming an experienced researcher and writer in any field or discipline takes a great deal of practice. There are few individuals for whom this process comes naturally. Remember, even the most seasoned academic veterans have had to learn how to write a research paper at some point in their career. Therefore, with diligence, organization, practice, a willingness to learn (and to make mistakes!), and, perhaps most important of all, patience, students will find that they can achieve great things through their research and writing.
The pages in this section cover the following topic areas related to the process of writing a research paper:
- Genre - This section will provide an overview for understanding the difference between an analytical and argumentative research paper.
- Choosing a Topic - This section will guide the student through the process of choosing topics, whether the topic be one that is assigned or one that the student chooses themselves.
- Identifying an Audience - This section will help the student understand the often times confusing topic of audience by offering some basic guidelines for the process.
- Where Do I Begin - This section concludes the handout by offering several links to resources at Purdue, and also provides an overview of the final stages of writing a research paper.
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TIP Sheet HOW TO START (AND COMPLETE) A RESEARCH PAPER
You are a re-entry student and it's been fourteen years since you've written a paper. You coasted through high school on your charm and good looks and never actually wrote a research paper. You have written research papers, but every time is like the first time, and the first time was like a root canal. How do you start? Here is a step-by-step approach to starting and completing a research paper.
- Choose a topic.
- Read and keep records.
- Form a thesis.
- Create a mind map or outline.
- Read again.
- Rethink your thesis.
- Draft the body.
- Add the beginning and end.
- Proofread and edit.
You may read this TIP Sheet from start to finish before you begin your paper, or skip to the steps that are causing you the most grief.
1. Choosing a topic: Interest, information, and focus Your job will be more pleasant, and you will be more apt to retain information if you choose a topic that holds your interest. Even if a general topic is assigned ("Write about impacts of GMO crops on world food supply"), as much as possible find an approach that suits your interests. Your topic should be one on which you can find adequate information; you might need to do some preliminary research to determine this. Go to the Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature in the reference section of the library, or to an electronic database such as Proquest or Wilson Web, and search for your topic. The Butte College Library Reference Librarians are more than happy to assist you at this (or any) stage of your research. Scan the results to see how much information has been published. Then, narrow your topic to manageable size:
Once you have decided on a topic and determined that enough information is available, you are ready to proceed. At this point, however, if you are having difficulty finding adequate quality information, stop wasting your time; find another topic.
2. Preliminary reading & recordkeeping Gather some index cards or a small notebook and keep them with you as you read. First read a general article on your topic, for example from an encyclopedia. On an index card or in the notebook, record the author, article and/or book title, and all publication information in the correct format (MLA or APA, for example) specified by your instructor. (If you need to know what publication information is needed for the various types of sources, see a writing guide such as S F Writer .) On the index cards or in your notebook, write down information you want to use from each identified source, including page numbers. Use quotation marks on anything you copy exactly, so you can distinguish later between exact quotes and paraphrasing. (You will still attribute information you have quoted or paraphrased.)
Some students use a particular index card method throughout the process of researching and writing that allows them great flexibility in organizing and re-organizing as well as in keeping track of sources; others color-code or otherwise identify groups of facts. Use any method that works for you in later drafting your paper, but always start with good recordkeeping.
3. Organizing: Mind map or outline Based on your preliminary reading, draw up a working mind map or outline. Include any important, interesting, or provocative points, including your own ideas about the topic. A mind map is less linear and may even include questions you want to find answers to. Use the method that works best for you. The object is simply to group ideas in logically related groups. You may revise this mind map or outline at any time; it is much easier to reorganize a paper by crossing out or adding sections to a mind map or outline than it is to laboriously start over with the writing itself.
4. Formulating a thesis: Focus and craftsmanship Write a well defined, focused, three- to five-point thesis statement, but be prepared to revise it later if necessary. Take your time crafting this statement into one or two sentences, for it will control the direction and development of your entire paper.
For more on developing thesis statements, see the TIP Sheets "Developing a Thesis and Supporting Arguments" and "How to Structure an Essay."
5. Researching: Facts and examples Now begin your heavy-duty research. Try the internet, electronic databases, reference books, newspaper articles, and books for a balance of sources. For each source, write down on an index card (or on a separate page of your notebook) the publication information you will need for your works cited (MLA) or bibliography (APA) page. Write important points, details, and examples, always distinguishing between direct quotes and paraphrasing. As you read, remember that an expert opinion is more valid than a general opinion, and for some topics (in science and history, for example), more recent research may be more valuable than older research. Avoid relying too heavily on internet sources, which vary widely in quality and authority and sometimes even disappear before you can complete your paper.
Never copy-and-paste from internet sources directly into any actual draft of your paper. For more information on plagiarism, obtain from the Butte College Student Services office a copy of the college's policy on plagiarism, or attend the Critical Skills Plagiarism Workshop given each semester.
6. Rethinking: Matching mind map and thesis After you have read deeply and gathered plenty of information, expand or revise your working mind map or outline by adding information, explanations, and examples. Aim for balance in developing each of your main points (they should be spelled out in your thesis statement). Return to the library for additional information if it is needed to evenly develop these points, or revise your thesis statement to better reflect what you have learned or the direction your paper seems to have taken.
7. Drafting: Beginning in the middle Write the body of the paper, starting with the thesis statement and omitting for now the introduction (unless you already know exactly how to begin, but few writers do). Use supporting detail to logically and systematically validate your thesis statement. For now, omit the conclusion also.
For more on systematically developing a thesis statement, see TIP sheets "Developing a Thesis and Supporting Arguments" and "How to Structure an Essay."
8. Revising: Organization and attribution Read, revise, and make sure that your ideas are clearly organized and that they support your thesis statement. Every single paragraph should have a single topic that is derived from the thesis statement. If any paragraph does not, take it out, or revise your thesis if you think it is warranted. Check that you have quoted and paraphrased accurately, and that you have acknowledged your sources even for your paraphrasing. Every single idea that did not come to you as a personal epiphany or as a result of your own methodical reasoning should be attributed to its owner.
For more on writing papers that stay on-topic, see the TIP Sheets "Developing a Thesis and Supporting Arguments" and "How to Structure an Essay." For more on avoiding plagiarism, see the Butte College Student Services brochure, "Academic Honesty at Butte College," or attend the Critical Skills Plagiarism Workshop given each semester.
9. Writing: Intro, conclusion, and citations Write the final draft. Add a one-paragraph introduction and a one-paragraph conclusion. Usually the thesis statement appears as the last sentence or two of the first, introductory paragraph. Make sure all citations appear in the correct format for the style (MLA, APA) you are using. The conclusion should not simply restate your thesis, but should refer to it. (For more on writing conclusions, see the TIP Sheet "How to Structure an Essay.") Add a Works Cited (for MLA) or Bibliography (for APA) page.
10. Proofreading: Time and objectivity Time permitting, allow a few days to elapse between the time you finish writing your last draft and the time you begin to make final corrections. This "time out" will make you more perceptive, more objective, and more critical. On your final read, check for grammar, punctuation, correct word choice, adequate and smooth transitions, sentence structure, and sentence variety. For further proofreading strategies, see the TIP Sheet "Revising, Editing, and Proofreading."
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How to Write a Research Paper | A Beginner's Guide
A research paper is a piece of academic writing that provides analysis, interpretation, and argument based on in-depth independent research.
Research papers are similar to academic essays , but they are usually longer and more detailed assignments, designed to assess not only your writing skills but also your skills in scholarly research. Writing a research paper requires you to demonstrate a strong knowledge of your topic, engage with a variety of sources, and make an original contribution to the debate.
This step-by-step guide takes you through the entire writing process, from understanding your assignment to proofreading your final draft.
Table of contents
Understand the assignment, choose a research paper topic, conduct preliminary research, develop a thesis statement, create a research paper outline, write a first draft of the research paper, write the introduction, write a compelling body of text, write the conclusion, the second draft, the revision process, research paper checklist, free lecture slides.
Completing a research paper successfully means accomplishing the specific tasks set out for you. Before you start, make sure you thoroughly understanding the assignment task sheet:
- Read it carefully, looking for anything confusing you might need to clarify with your professor.
- Identify the assignment goal, deadline, length specifications, formatting, and submission method.
- Make a bulleted list of the key points, then go back and cross completed items off as you’re writing.
Carefully consider your timeframe and word limit: be realistic, and plan enough time to research, write, and edit.
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There are many ways to generate an idea for a research paper, from brainstorming with pen and paper to talking it through with a fellow student or professor.
You can try free writing, which involves taking a broad topic and writing continuously for two or three minutes to identify absolutely anything relevant that could be interesting.
You can also gain inspiration from other research. The discussion or recommendations sections of research papers often include ideas for other specific topics that require further examination.
Once you have a broad subject area, narrow it down to choose a topic that interests you, m eets the criteria of your assignment, and i s possible to research. Aim for ideas that are both original and specific:
- A paper following the chronology of World War II would not be original or specific enough.
- A paper on the experience of Danish citizens living close to the German border during World War II would be specific and could be original enough.
Note any discussions that seem important to the topic, and try to find an issue that you can focus your paper around. Use a variety of sources , including journals, books, and reliable websites, to ensure you do not miss anything glaring.
Do not only verify the ideas you have in mind, but look for sources that contradict your point of view.
- Is there anything people seem to overlook in the sources you research?
- Are there any heated debates you can address?
- Do you have a unique take on your topic?
- Have there been some recent developments that build on the extant research?
In this stage, you might find it helpful to formulate some research questions to help guide you. To write research questions, try to finish the following sentence: “I want to know how/what/why…”
A thesis statement is a statement of your central argument — it establishes the purpose and position of your paper. If you started with a research question, the thesis statement should answer it. It should also show what evidence and reasoning you’ll use to support that answer.
The thesis statement should be concise, contentious, and coherent. That means it should briefly summarize your argument in a sentence or two, make a claim that requires further evidence or analysis, and make a coherent point that relates to every part of the paper.
You will probably revise and refine the thesis statement as you do more research, but it can serve as a guide throughout the writing process. Every paragraph should aim to support and develop this central claim.
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A research paper outline is essentially a list of the key topics, arguments, and evidence you want to include, divided into sections with headings so that you know roughly what the paper will look like before you start writing.
A structure outline can help make the writing process much more efficient, so it’s worth dedicating some time to create one.
Your first draft won’t be perfect — you can polish later on. Your priorities at this stage are as follows:
- Maintaining forward momentum — write now, perfect later.
- Paying attention to clear organization and logical ordering of paragraphs and sentences, which will help when you come to the second draft.
- Expressing your ideas as clearly as possible, so you know what you were trying to say when you come back to the text.
You do not need to start by writing the introduction. Begin where it feels most natural for you — some prefer to finish the most difficult sections first, while others choose to start with the easiest part. If you created an outline, use it as a map while you work.
Do not delete large sections of text. If you begin to dislike something you have written or find it doesn’t quite fit, move it to a different document, but don’t lose it completely — you never know if it might come in useful later.
Paragraphs are the basic building blocks of research papers. Each one should focus on a single claim or idea that helps to establish the overall argument or purpose of the paper.
George Orwell’s 1946 essay “Politics and the English Language” has had an enduring impact on thought about the relationship between politics and language. This impact is particularly obvious in light of the various critical review articles that have recently referenced the essay. For example, consider Mark Falcoff’s 2009 article in The National Review Online, “The Perversion of Language; or, Orwell Revisited,” in which he analyzes several common words (“activist,” “civil-rights leader,” “diversity,” and more). Falcoff’s close analysis of the ambiguity built into political language intentionally mirrors Orwell’s own point-by-point analysis of the political language of his day. Even 63 years after its publication, Orwell’s essay is emulated by contemporary thinkers.
It’s also important to keep track of citations at this stage to avoid accidental plagiarism . Each time you use a source, make sure to take note of where the information came from.
You can use our free citation generators to automatically create citations and save your reference list as you go.
APA Citation Generator MLA Citation Generator
The research paper introduction should address three questions: What, why, and how? After finishing the introduction, the reader should know what the paper is about, why it is worth reading, and how you’ll build your arguments.
What? Be specific about the topic of the paper, introduce the background, and define key terms or concepts.
Why? This is the most important, but also the most difficult, part of the introduction. Try to provide brief answers to the following questions: What new material or insight are you offering? What important issues does your essay help define or answer?
How? To let the reader know what to expect from the rest of the paper, the introduction should include a “map” of what will be discussed, briefly presenting the key elements of the paper in chronological order.
The major struggle faced by most writers is how to organize the information presented in the paper, which is one reason an outline is so useful. However, remember that the outline is only a guide and, when writing, you can be flexible with the order in which the information and arguments are presented.
One way to stay on track is to use your thesis statement and topic sentences . Check:
- topic sentences against the thesis statement;
- topic sentences against each other, for similarities and logical ordering;
- and each sentence against the topic sentence of that paragraph.
Be aware of paragraphs that seem to cover the same things. If two paragraphs discuss something similar, they must approach that topic in different ways. Aim to create smooth transitions between sentences, paragraphs, and sections.
The research paper conclusion is designed to help your reader out of the paper’s argument, giving them a sense of finality.
Trace the course of the paper, emphasizing how it all comes together to prove your thesis statement. Give the paper a sense of finality by making sure the reader understands how you’ve settled the issues raised in the introduction.
You might also discuss the more general consequences of the argument, outline what the paper offers to future students of the topic, and suggest any questions the paper’s argument raises but cannot or does not try to answer.
You should not :
- Offer new arguments or essential information
- Take up any more space than necessary
- Begin with stock phrases that signal you are ending the paper (e.g. “In conclusion”)
There are four main considerations when it comes to the second draft.
- Check how your vision of the paper lines up with the first draft and, more importantly, that your paper still answers the assignment.
- Identify any assumptions that might require (more substantial) justification, keeping your reader’s perspective foremost in mind. Remove these points if you cannot substantiate them further.
- Be open to rearranging your ideas. Check whether any sections feel out of place and whether your ideas could be better organized.
- If you find that old ideas do not fit as well as you anticipated, you should cut them out or condense them. You might also find that new and well-suited ideas occurred to you during the writing of the first draft — now is the time to make them part of the paper.
The goal during the revision and proofreading process is to ensure you have completed all the necessary tasks and that the paper is as well-articulated as possible.
- Confirm that your paper completes every task specified in your assignment sheet.
- Check for logical organization and flow of paragraphs.
- Check paragraphs against the introduction and thesis statement.
Check the content of each paragraph, making sure that:
- each sentence helps support the topic sentence.
- no unnecessary or irrelevant information is present.
- all technical terms your audience might not know are identified.
Next, think about sentence structure , grammatical errors, and formatting . Check that you have correctly used transition words and phrases to show the connections between your ideas. Look for typos, cut unnecessary words, and check for consistency in aspects such as heading formatting and spellings .
Finally, you need to make sure your paper is correctly formatted according to the rules of the citation style you are using. For example, you might need to include an MLA heading or create an APA title page .
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Checklist: Research paper
I have followed all instructions in the assignment sheet.
My introduction presents my topic in an engaging way and provides necessary background information.
My introduction presents a clear, focused research problem and/or thesis statement .
My paper is logically organized using paragraphs and (if relevant) section headings .
Each paragraph is clearly focused on one central idea, expressed in a clear topic sentence .
Each paragraph is relevant to my research problem or thesis statement.
I have used appropriate transitions to clarify the connections between sections, paragraphs, and sentences.
My conclusion provides a concise answer to the research question or emphasizes how the thesis has been supported.
My conclusion shows how my research has contributed to knowledge or understanding of my topic.
My conclusion does not present any new points or information essential to my argument.
I have provided an in-text citation every time I refer to ideas or information from a source.
I have included a reference list at the end of my paper, consistently formatted according to a specific citation style .
I have thoroughly revised my paper and addressed any feedback from my professor or supervisor.
I have followed all formatting guidelines (page numbers, headers, spacing, etc.).
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How to write a research paper for college.
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Your research for research ends here
The inevitable has come. You finally have to write a research paper for your college or dissertation. Many colleges require a paper from students to complete their degrees. The structure, the details and the placement of all the data and graphs, how you bring the entire format and the execution play a vital role while writing a college paper. Sounds tedious, right? You don't have to fret, though. We have everything you need about how to write a research paper for a college right here in this blog.
What is a research paper?
A research paper is an academic article that offers a thorough examination, assessment, interpretation, and in-depth analysis of a subject supported by empirical evidence or data. Analytical essays and college papers are similar, but the former place more emphasis on using statistical data and previous studies (like a literature review ), while the latter adheres to a strict citation style. A research project is always intended to find a problem's solution. However, most people are already aware of college papers from school; they are frequently used in college courses to assess a student's familiarity with a particular subject or their general research abilities.
Types of research papers
Before learning how to write a research paper, let us know about different types of papers. Knowing the type of college paper needed for your assignment is crucial because every type has various requirements for preparation. The format may be similar, but mostly, it differs for each type. In universities, the most common type of college paper needed for assignments is the Analytical Research Paper, where students have to conduct a survey and analyse the respective responses; You can check out how to conduct research . However, there are some other types which are also used. The most common types of research papers needed for college assignments or dissertations are:
1. Analytical Paper
2. Argumentative Paper
3. Cause and Effect Paper
4. Experimental Paper
5. Problem-Solution Paper
6. Report Paper
7. Survey Paper
Research Paper Format for Students
Deciding your research paper format before starting to write a paper is very important. The format of your paper will depend on the style guide you choose to follow. There are three commonly used college paper formats - the APA , MLA , and Chicago style, whose manuals provide formatting guidelines for things like font choices, page design, heading type, and reference page structure, in addition to citation requirements. Here are the basic guidelines for each college paper format:
1. American Psychological Association (APA)
APA is the style used by the American Psychological Association for documentation of sources. This form of writing college papers is used mainly in the social sciences as well as education and other fields.
- You should use a common typeface such as 11 pt Arial or 12 pt Times New Roman.
- Set page margins at 1 inch.
- Double the line spacing.
- Include a running head on each page if submitting for publication.
- Every new paragraph needs a 12-inch indent.
- APA style writing also tells more in-depth details about the order of pages, font, line spacing, etc., needed to write a college paper.
2. Modern Language Association (MLA)
Modern Language Association, or MLA, format, is a style of mentioning sources you use to write a research paper. This style is usually used for research papers for English Composition and other communication classes.
- Use a readable typeface, such as 12 pt. Times New Roman.
- Make the page margins 1 inch.
- Double-space your lines.
- Every subsequent paragraph should be indented by one and a half inches.
- Capitalise headings with title case.
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3. Chicago or Turabian style
This style is the student version of The Chicago Manual of Style, which aims at students in high school and college who are writing research papers, theses, and dissertations. The Chicago Manual of Style aims at professional scholars.
- Use a common typeface, such as Times New Roman 12 pt.
- Use margins of at least one inch.
- Page numbers should be placed in the bottom centre or top right.
How to write a research paper for college?
Writing a research paper seems extremely tedious. But don’t worry, we have listed a step-by-step process to make your work easier. We have covered everything right from choosing the topic to proofreading! Let’s get started
Step 1: Choose your topic
You may be given a topic to write on, or you may have to choose one on your own, depending on the assignment. If your instructor did not provide you with a topic, you would have to choose a topic on your own. You should pick a research topic which you feel connected to and feel confident about. The topic or the problem for the research paper should not be too vague or too narrow so that it does not become hard to find the relevant data.
Step 2: Conduct preliminary research
While finding sources online is a simple way to start a research project, determining the reliability of a source is more crucial. The sources for your research should be credible and reliable. You can source your data and information from encyclopaedias, journals, google Scholar, libraries, trustworthy publications or case studies. This will be your first stage, i.e. the preliminary stage of research. This is the stage where you will get a clear idea about your topic for research writing through the data you have sourced and skimmed.
Step 3: Write a Thesis Statement
A thesis statement conveys the main idea of your research paper, and it typically appears at the end of your introduction. This is one of the important parts of a college paper you should take care of while you write a college paper. Your thesis statement should have an interesting and compelling hook which draws the readers' attention. A strong thesis statement gives the reader a clear understanding of the topics and arguments you will be discussing in your work. Your thesis should be one or two sentences long and should be well-written, so readers know what they will encounter in your paper.
Step 4: Conduct in-depth research
After you are done with the preliminary research, you need to source enough research which will be relevant to your research writing. You can conduct data through various methods such as experiments, surveys or questionnaires. Always keep in mind that your research writing should be unbiased and should be factual. This is the stage where you will go through the information you have collected while doing the preliminary research and find out supporting evidence. Only include details that are directly related to your issue; avoid including irrelevant data even if they seem interesting.
Step 5: Write a research paper outline.
The foundation of your paper is an outline. There are various sections or components that make up a research paper outline. Your paper will surely include an introduction, body and conclusion. These headings will include relevant subheadings, which will be supported by empirical evidence. You need to make a list of all the vital topics, subtopics and categories to include in your paper.
Each section should be expertly written to ensure that the work is successful and well-structured overall.
1. Title/Cover Page
First impressions are important, which is why picking the right title can greatly impact how your college paper is perceived. A simple formula for a great title is: "[Result]: A [method] study of [topic] among [sample]", and you can modify this as per the type of research paper you're working on. This is just one of the crucial components of a research paper . Some types of college paper titles are:
No matter which type you're going for, you need to keep these few things in mind. Be concise yet descriptive, and don't make your title too lengthy. Keep it between 5 to 15 words. Make sure it matches the guidelines and avoid the use of symbols and slang.
Simply put, this is a short and appealing overview of your college paper. When writing a research paper, make sure you give a brief background of the problem being studied and the manner of your solution. Also, be sure to include the main findings from your study and use keywords in your abstract.
A good research paper introduction includes the problem's background and any solutions presented in the literature along with its reasons and focuses mainly on the problem you're aiming to solve. Write this section of the research paper in a logical way to make it easier for the reader to follow along with your thought process. Don't forget to start with your thesis statement.
This section should tell the reader what obstacles you faced during your research. Make sure you keep all information relevant to the results and are concise. Avoid the use of unnecessary words, and don't include the results mentioned in the results section.
The main purpose of having a methods section is to allow anyone to reproduce your experiments. So, you should give enough detail to allow others to do so. However, you can skip detailing previous experiments, as readers can find these in the references you've provided. Make sure to write in the past tense and use standard nomenclature and numbers. Here's a checklist of what you should include:
- References of previously published methods
- Study settings
- Animal models
- Human subjects
- Data accession codes for data deposited in a repository.
6. Main Body
This section will contain the bulk of your research paper. Unlike college essays, your college paper should be divided into sections with separate headers to make it easier for readers to scan. When writing a college paper's first draft, don't worry about perfecting each and every word. You can fine-tune it later when you're editing and proofreading the paper. To improve the flow of the paper, you can use transition sentences, tying each section together smoothly.
A research paper's conclusion is quite similar to that of an essay. Make sure you reiterate your thesis statement, summarise your study's findings, and reiterate evidence backing your results in as simple a manner as possible.
It's important to acknowledge any previous studies that you discuss in your paper to avoid plagiarism and to let readers easily navigate to these sources. Make sure to maintain a detailed list of all your references and include these in your bibliography section as per the format you are following, such as MLA, APA, etc.
These are the fundamental components of every research paper outline, regardless of the format style you use.
Step 6: Write the first draft.
Now that you have finalised an outline for your research paper. Here comes the most important and exciting part. You will now actually start to write a research paper. This step won't be very intimidating if you have all the sources and data with a proper outline ready. Your research paper should contain all three: an introduction, body and conclusion, along with an abstract, citations and bibliography. This is the part where you will support your thesis statement with empirical evidence and facts. While you write a research paper, you have to remember that this section contains the main ideas and is the soul of your paper. The methods used to obtain information, the findings, and a discussion of the findings and outcomes are all found in the body of your research paper. The conclusion and the introduction carry the same importance. The research paper's concept is restated in the conclusion, along with the author's, i.e. your personal viewpoint on the subject. Your conclusion cannot include the facts that are already stated in your paper or new facts or information.
Step 7: Cite your research paper.
Citations are a very important part of how to write a research paper. Citation basically means quotations from any reference books, papers or authors. It mentions the referenced quotes' mainly in scholarly works. According to the paper format you are using, citations follow a certain set of guidelines and rules. Your final page, also known as the bibliography page, will contain all the citations and lists of all the references and sources that you used to gather your data.
Step 8: Edit and proofread
Once you have finished writing a research paper and all the elements of your paper have been written and compiled, proofread it many times to ensure that it is error-free. Before submitting it, make sure you check for all the minor details and make sure you do a thorough grammar check. Go over your paper twice so you do not miss anything.
Tips for writing a research paper
Who doesn't love extras? Extra ketchup, extra mayo, extra tips? You can take a look at some tips to write your paper here! You can check out these topics to learn more about how to write a research paper effectively and efficiently.
1. Select a topic you feel connected to.
2. Using Index cards to jot notes down will be helpful.
3. Take enough time to edit and polish your paper.
4. Find a distraction-free environment.
5. Start writing a research paper early to avoid procrastination.
6. You can definitely ask for help if you need it.
7. Have enough sleep and rest.
8. Store copies of your research and work as backup.
Tools & Resources for Writing a Research Paper
With so much to keep in mind, writing a research paper well can certainly be quite stressful. No need to worry; Your little helpers are here. These tools and resources make writing a research paper a lot easier and faster. Using these when writing your research paper is a great way to work smarter, not harder.
Managing citations has never been easier with citation manager apps that take up the task of acquiring metadata, organising citations, and formatting references. Mendeley, Zotero, Endnote, and Refworks are a few apps that you can use.
The language might not be your forte, and your reviewers aren't going to correct your grammatical errors. So here are a few editing tools that will do just the trick - Hemingway Editor, Grammarly, and Trinka.
Now that you have learnt how to write a research paper, you can finally start writing a research paper. Go through the steps properly, choose a topic that might intrigue. We know you can do it. The task of writing a college paper seems ginormous as it involves a lot of hard work and brain activities. Once you start the process, it might not seem ginormous but interesting. Get enough sleep and rest and avoid procrastination, and you should write a college paper while enjoying it. You can also check out our blog on how to write a research paper appendix and how to write a literature review research paper .
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Research Paper Examples
Research paper examples are of great value for students who want to complete their assignments timely and efficiently. If you are a student in the university, your first stop in the quest for research paper examples will be the campus library where you can get to view the research sample papers of lecturers and other professionals in diverse fields plus those of fellow students who preceded you in the campus. Many college departments maintain libraries of previous student work, including large research papers, which current students can examine. Our collection of research paper examples includes:
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To Read Examples or Not to Read
When you get an assignment to write a research paper, the first question you ask yourself is ‘Should I look for research paper examples?’ Maybe, I can deal with this task on my own without any help. Is it that difficult?
Thousands of students turn to our service every day for help. It does not mean that they cannot do their assignments on their own. They can, but the reason is different. Writing a research paper demands so much time and energy that asking for assistance seems to be a perfect solution. As the matter of fact, it is a perfect solution, especially, when you need to work to pay for your studying as well.
Firstly, if you search for research paper examples before you start writing, you can save your time significantly. You look at the example and you understand the gist of your assignment within several minutes. Secondly, when you examine some sample paper, you get to know all the requirements. You analyze the structure, the language, and the formatting details. Finally, reading examples helps students to overcome writer’s block, as other people’s ideas can motivate you to discover your own ideas.
A Sample Research Paper on Child Abuse
A research paper is an academic piece of writing, so you need to follow all the requirements and standards. Otherwise, it will be impossible to get the high results. To make it easier for you, we have analyzed the structure and peculiarities of a sample research paper on the topic ‘Child Abuse’.
The paper includes 7300+ words, a detailed outline, citations are in APA formatting style, and bibliography with 28 sources.
To write any paper you need to write a great outline. This is the key to a perfect paper. When you organize your paper, it is easier for you to present the ideas logically, without jumping from one thought to another.
In the outline, you need to name all the parts of your paper. That is to say, an introduction, main body, conclusion, bibliography, some papers require abstract and proposal as well.
A good outline will serve as a guide through your paper making it easier for the reader to follow your ideas.
Ii. estimates of child abuse: methodological limitations, iii. child abuse and neglect: the legalities, iv. corporal punishment versus child abuse, v. child abuse victims: the patterns, vi. child abuse perpetrators: the patterns, vii. explanations for child abuse, viii. consequences of child abuse and neglect, ix. determining abuse: how to tell whether a child is abused or neglected, x. determining abuse: interviewing children, xi. how can society help abused children and abusive families, introduction.
An introduction should include a thesis statement and the main points that you will discuss in the paper.
A thesis statement is one sentence in which you need to show your point of view. You will then develop this point of view through the whole piece of work:
‘The impact of child abuse affects more than one’s childhood, as the psychological and physical injuries often extend well into adulthood.’
Child abuse is a very real and prominent social problem today. The impact of child abuse affects more than one’s childhood, as the psychological and physical injuries often extend well into adulthood. Most children are defenseless against abuse, are dependent on their caretakers, and are unable to protect themselves from these acts.
Childhood serves as the basis for growth, development, and socialization. Throughout adolescence, children are taught how to become productive and positive, functioning members of society. Much of the socializing of children, particularly in their very earliest years, comes at the hands of family members. Unfortunately, the messages conveyed to and the actions against children by their families are not always the positive building blocks for which one would hope.
In 2008, the Children’s Defense Fund reported that each day in America, 2,421 children are confirmed as abused or neglected, 4 children are killed by abuse or neglect, and 78 babies die before their first birthday. These daily estimates translate into tremendous national figures. In 2006, caseworkers substantiated an estimated 905,000 reports of child abuse or neglect. Of these, 64% suffered neglect, 16% were physically abused, 9% were sexually abused, 7% were emotionally or psychologically maltreated, and 2% were medically neglected. In addition, 15% of the victims experienced “other” types of maltreatment such as abandonment, threats of harm to the child, and congenital drug addiction (National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, 2006). Obviously, this problem is a substantial one.
In the main body, you dwell upon the topic of your paper. You provide your ideas and support them with evidence. The evidence include all the data and material you have found, analyzed and systematized. You can support your point of view with different statistical data, with surveys, and the results of different experiments. Your task is to show that your idea is right, and make the reader interested in the topic.
In this example, a writer analyzes the issue of child abuse: different statistical data, controversies regarding the topic, examples of the problem and the consequences.
Several issues arise when considering the amount of child abuse that occurs annually in the United States. Child abuse is very hard to estimate because much (or most) of it is not reported. Children who are abused are unlikely to report their victimization because they may not know any better, they still love their abusers and do not want to see them taken away (or do not themselves want to be taken away from their abusers), they have been threatened into not reporting, or they do not know to whom they should report their victimizations. Still further, children may report their abuse only to find the person to whom they report does not believe them or take any action on their behalf. Continuing to muddy the waters, child abuse can be disguised as legitimate injury, particularly because young children are often somewhat uncoordinated and are still learning to accomplish physical tasks, may not know their physical limitations, and are often legitimately injured during regular play. In the end, children rarely report child abuse; most often it is an adult who makes a report based on suspicion (e.g., teacher, counselor, doctor, etc.).
Even when child abuse is reported, social service agents and investigators may not follow up or substantiate reports for a variety of reasons. Parents can pretend, lie, or cover up injuries or stories of how injuries occurred when social service agents come to investigate. Further, there is not always agreement about what should be counted as abuse by service providers and researchers. In addition, social service agencies/agents have huge caseloads and may only be able to deal with the most serious forms of child abuse, leaving the more “minor” forms of abuse unsupervised and unmanaged (and uncounted in the statistical totals).
While most laws about child abuse and neglect fall at the state levels, federal legislation provides a foundation for states by identifying a minimum set of acts and behaviors that define child abuse and neglect. The Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), which stems from the Keeping Children and Families Safe Act of 2003, defines child abuse and neglect as, at minimum, “(1) any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse, or exploitation; or (2) an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk or serious harm.”
Using these minimum standards, each state is responsible for providing its own definition of maltreatment within civil and criminal statutes. When defining types of child abuse, many states incorporate similar elements and definitions into their legal statutes. For example, neglect is often defined as failure to provide for a child’s basic needs. Neglect can encompass physical elements (e.g., failure to provide necessary food or shelter, or lack of appropriate supervision), medical elements (e.g., failure to provide necessary medical or mental health treatment), educational elements (e.g., failure to educate a child or attend to special educational needs), and emotional elements (e.g., inattention to a child’s emotional needs, failure to provide psychological care, or permitting the child to use alcohol or other drugs). Failure to meet needs does not always mean a child is neglected, as situations such as poverty, cultural values, and community standards can influence the application of legal statutes. In addition, several states distinguish between failure to provide based on financial inability and failure to provide for no apparent financial reason.
Statutes on physical abuse typically include elements of physical injury (ranging from minor bruises to severe fractures or death) as a result of punching, beating, kicking, biting, shaking, throwing, stabbing, choking, hitting (with a hand, stick, strap, or other object), burning, or otherwise harming a child. Such injury is considered abuse regardless of the intention of the caretaker. In addition, many state statutes include allowing or encouraging another person to physically harm a child (such as noted above) as another form of physical abuse in and of itself. Sexual abuse usually includes activities by a parent or caretaker such as fondling a child’s genitals, penetration, incest, rape, sodomy, indecent exposure, and exploitation through prostitution or the production of pornographic materials.
Finally, emotional or psychological abuse typically is defined as a pattern of behavior that impairs a child’s emotional development or sense of self-worth. This may include constant criticism, threats, or rejection, as well as withholding love, support, or guidance. Emotional abuse is often the most difficult to prove and, therefore, child protective services may not be able to intervene without evidence of harm to the child. Some states suggest that harm may be evidenced by an observable or substantial change in behavior, emotional response, or cognition, or by anxiety, depression, withdrawal, or aggressive behavior. At a practical level, emotional abuse is almost always present when other types of abuse are identified.
Some states include an element of substance abuse in their statutes on child abuse. Circumstances that can be considered substance abuse include (a) the manufacture of a controlled substance in the presence of a child or on the premises occupied by a child (Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Montana, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Virginia); (b) allowing a child to be present where the chemicals or equipment for the manufacture of controlled substances are used (Arizona, New Mexico); (c) selling, distributing, or giving drugs or alcohol to a child (Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, and Texas); (d) use of a controlled substance by a caregiver that impairs the caregiver’s ability to adequately care for the child (Kentucky, New York, Rhode Island, and Texas); and (e) exposure of the child to drug paraphernalia (North Dakota), the criminal sale or distribution of drugs (Montana, Virginia), or drug-related activity (District of Columbia).
One of the most difficult issues with which the U.S. legal system must contend is that of allowing parents the right to use corporal punishment when disciplining a child, while not letting them cross over the line into the realm of child abuse. Some parents may abuse their children under the guise of discipline, and many instances of child abuse arise from angry parents who go too far when disciplining their children with physical punishment. Generally, state statutes use terms such as “reasonable discipline of a minor,” “causes only temporary, short-term pain,” and may cause “the potential for bruising” but not “permanent damage, disability, disfigurement or injury” to the child as ways of indicating the types of discipline behaviors that are legal. However, corporal punishment that is “excessive,” “malicious,” “endangers the bodily safety of,” or is “an intentional infliction of injury” is not allowed under most state statutes (e.g., state of Florida child abuse statute).
Most research finds that the use of physical punishment (most often spanking) is not an effective method of discipline. The literature on this issue tends to find that spanking stops misbehavior, but no more effectively than other firm measures. Further, it seems to hinder rather than improve general compliance/obedience (particularly when the child is not in the presence of the punisher). Researchers have also explained why physical punishment is not any more effective at gaining child compliance than nonviolent forms of discipline. Some of the problems that arise when parents use spanking or other forms of physical punishment include the fact that spanking does not teach what children should do, nor does it provide them with alternative behavior options should the circumstance arise again. Spanking also undermines reasoning, explanation, or other forms of parental instruction because children cannot learn, reason, or problem solve well while experiencing threat, pain, fear, or anger. Further, the use of physical punishment is inconsistent with nonviolent principles, or parental modeling. In addition, the use of spanking chips away at the bonds of affection between parents and children, and tends to induce resentment and fear. Finally, it hinders the development of empathy and compassion in children, and they do not learn to take responsibility for their own behavior (Pitzer, 1997).
One of the biggest problems with the use of corporal punishment is that it can escalate into much more severe forms of violence. Usually, parents spank because they are angry (and somewhat out of control) and they can’t think of other ways to discipline. When parents are acting as a result of emotional triggers, the notion of discipline is lost while punishment and pain become the foci.
In 2006, of the children who were found to be victims of child abuse, nearly 75% of them were first-time victims (or had not come to the attention of authorities prior). A slight majority of child abuse victims were girls—51.5%, compared to 48% of abuse victims being boys. The younger the child, the more at risk he or she is for child abuse and neglect victimization. Specifically, the rate for infants (birth to 1 year old) was approximately 24 per 1,000 children of the same age group. The victimization rate for children 1–3 years old was 14 per 1,000 children of the same age group. The abuse rate for children aged 4– 7 years old declined further to 13 per 1,000 children of the same age group. African American, American Indian, and Alaska Native children, as well as children of multiple races, had the highest rates of victimization. White and Latino children had lower rates, and Asian children had the lowest rates of child abuse and neglect victimization. Regarding living arrangements, nearly 27% of victims were living with a single mother, 20% were living with married parents, while 22% were living with both parents but the marital status was unknown. (This reporting element had nearly 40% missing data, however.) Regarding disability, nearly 8% of child abuse victims had some degree of mental retardation, emotional disturbance, visual or hearing impairment, learning disability, physical disability, behavioral problems, or other medical problems. Unfortunately, data indicate that for many victims, the efforts of the child protection services system were not successful in preventing subsequent victimization. Children who had been prior victims of maltreatment were 96% more likely to experience another occurrence than those who were not prior victims. Further, child victims who were reported to have a disability were 52% more likely to experience recurrence than children without a disability. Finally, the oldest victims (16–21 years of age) were the least likely to experience a recurrence, and were 51% less likely to be victimized again than were infants (younger than age 1) (National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, 2006).
Child fatalities are the most tragic consequence of maltreatment. Yet, each year, children die from abuse and neglect. In 2006, an estimated 1,530 children in the United States died due to abuse or neglect. The overall rate of child fatalities was 2 deaths per 100,000 children. More than 40% of child fatalities were attributed to neglect, but physical abuse also was a major contributor. Approximately 78% of the children who died due to child abuse and neglect were younger than 4 years old, and infant boys (younger than 1) had the highest rate of fatalities at 18.5 deaths per 100,000 boys of the same age in the national population. Infant girls had a rate of 14.7 deaths per 100,000 girls of the same age (National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, 2006).
One question to be addressed regarding child fatalities is why infants have such a high rate of death when compared to toddlers and adolescents. Children under 1 year old pose an immense amount of responsibility for their caretakers: they are completely dependent and need constant attention. Children this age are needy, impulsive, and not amenable to verbal control or effective communication. This can easily overwhelm vulnerable parents. Another difficulty associated with infants is that they are physically weak and small. Injuries to infants can be fatal, while similar injuries to older children might not be. The most common cause of death in children less than 1 year is cerebral trauma (often the result of shaken-baby syndrome). Exasperated parents can deliver shakes or blows without realizing how little it takes to cause irreparable or fatal damage to an infant. Research informs us that two of the most common triggers for fatal child abuse are crying that will not cease and toileting accidents. Both of these circumstances are common in infants and toddlers whose only means of communication often is crying, and who are limited in mobility and cannot use the toilet. Finally, very young children cannot assist in injury diagnoses. Children who have been injured due to abuse or neglect often cannot communicate to medical professionals about where it hurts, how it hurts, and so forth. Also, nonfatal injuries can turn fatal in the absence of care by neglectful parents or parents who do not want medical professionals to possibly identify an injury as being the result of abuse.
Estimates reveal that nearly 80% of perpetrators of child abuse were parents of the victim. Other relatives accounted for nearly 7%, and unmarried partners of parents made up 4% of perpetrators. Of those perpetrators that were parents, over 90% were biological parents, 4% were stepparents, and 0.7% were adoptive parents. Of this group, approximately 58% of perpetrators were women and 42% were men. Women perpetrators are typically younger than men. The average age for women abusers was 31 years old, while for men the average was 34 years old. Forty percent of women who abused were younger than 30 years of age, compared with 33% of men being under 30. The racial distribution of perpetrators is similar to that of victims. Fifty-four percent were white, 21% were African American, and 20% were Hispanic/Latino (National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, 2006).
There are many factors that are associated with child abuse. Some of the more common/well-accepted explanations are individual pathology, parent–child interaction, past abuse in the family (or social learning), situational factors, and cultural support for physical punishment along with a lack of cultural support for helping parents here in the United States.
The first explanation centers on the individual pathology of a parent or caretaker who is abusive. This theory focuses on the idea that people who abuse their children have something wrong with their individual personality or biological makeup. Such psychological pathologies may include having anger control problems; being depressed or having post-partum depression; having a low tolerance for frustration (e.g., children can be extremely frustrating: they don’t always listen; they constantly push the line of how far they can go; and once the line has been established, they are constantly treading on it to make sure it hasn’t moved. They are dependent and self-centered, so caretakers have very little privacy or time to themselves); being rigid (e.g., having no tolerance for differences—for example, what if your son wanted to play with dolls? A rigid father would not let him, laugh at him for wanting to, punish him when he does, etc.); having deficits in empathy (parents who cannot put themselves in the shoes of their children cannot fully understand what their children need emotionally); or being disorganized, inefficient, and ineffectual. (Parents who are unable to manage their own lives are unlikely to be successful at managing the lives of their children, and since many children want and need limits, these parents are unable to set them or adhere to them.)
Biological pathologies that may increase the likelihood of someone becoming a child abuser include having substance abuse or dependence problems, or having persistent or reoccurring physical health problems (especially health problems that can be extremely painful and can cause a person to become more self-absorbed, both qualities that can give rise to a lack of patience, lower frustration tolerance, and increased stress).
The second explanation for child abuse centers on the interaction between the parent and the child, noting that certain types of parents are more likely to abuse, and certain types of children are more likely to be abused, and when these less-skilled parents are coupled with these more difficult children, child abuse is the most likely to occur. Discussion here focuses on what makes a parent less skilled, and what makes a child more difficult. Characteristics of unskilled parents are likely to include such traits as only pointing out what children do wrong and never giving any encouragement for good behavior, and failing to be sensitive to the emotional needs of children. Less skilled parents tend to have unrealistic expectations of children. They may engage in role reversal— where the parents make the child take care of them—and view the parent’s happiness and well-being as the responsibility of the child. Some parents view the parental role as extremely stressful and experience little enjoyment from being a parent. Finally, less-skilled parents tend to have more negative perceptions regarding their child(ren). For example, perhaps the child has a different shade of skin than they expected and this may disappoint or anger them, they may feel the child is being manipulative (long before children have this capability), or they may view the child as the scapegoat for all the parents’ or family’s problems. Theoretically, parents with these characteristics would be more likely to abuse their children, but if they are coupled with having a difficult child, they would be especially likely to be abusive. So, what makes a child more difficult? Certainly, through no fault of their own, children may have characteristics that are associated with child care that is more demanding and difficult than in the “normal” or “average” situation. Such characteristics can include having physical and mental disabilities (autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder [ADHD], hyperactivity, etc.); the child may be colicky, frequently sick, be particularly needy, or cry more often. In addition, some babies are simply unhappier than other babies for reasons that cannot be known. Further, infants are difficult even in the best of circumstances. They are unable to communicate effectively, and they are completely dependent on their caretakers for everything, including eating, diaper changing, moving around, entertainment, and emotional bonding. Again, these types of children, being more difficult, are more likely to be victims of child abuse.
Nonetheless, each of these types of parents and children alone cannot explain the abuse of children, but it is the interaction between them that becomes the key. Unskilled parents may produce children that are happy and not as needy, and even though they are unskilled, they do not abuse because the child takes less effort. At the same time, children who are more difficult may have parents who are skilled and are able to handle and manage the extra effort these children take with aplomb. However, risks for child abuse increase when unskilled parents must contend with difficult children.
Social learning or past abuse in the family is a third common explanation for child abuse. Here, the theory concentrates not only on what children learn when they see or experience violence in their homes, but additionally on what they do not learn as a result of these experiences. Social learning theory in the context of family violence stresses that if children are abused or see abuse (toward siblings or a parent), those interactions and violent family members become the representations and role models for their future familial interactions. In this way, what children learn is just as important as what they do not learn. Children who witness or experience violence may learn that this is the way parents deal with children, or that violence is an acceptable method of child rearing and discipline. They may think when they become parents that “violence worked on me when I was a child, and I turned out fine.” They may learn unhealthy relationship interaction patterns; children may witness the negative interactions of parents and they may learn the maladaptive or violent methods of expressing anger, reacting to stress, or coping with conflict.
What is equally as important, though, is that they are unlikely to learn more acceptable and nonviolent ways of rearing children, interacting with family members, and working out conflict. Here it may happen that an adult who was abused as a child would like to be nonviolent toward his or her own children, but when the chips are down and the child is misbehaving, this abused-child-turned-adult does not have a repertoire of nonviolent strategies to try. This parent is more likely to fall back on what he or she knows as methods of discipline.
Something important to note here is that not all abused children grow up to become abusive adults. Children who break the cycle were often able to establish and maintain one healthy emotional relationship with someone during their childhoods (or period of young adulthood). For instance, they may have received emotional support from a nonabusing parent, or they received social support and had a positive relationship with another adult during their childhood (e.g., teacher, coach, minister, neighbor, etc.). Abused children who participate in therapy during some period of their lives can often break the cycle of violence. In addition, adults who were abused but are able to form an emotionally supportive and satisfying relationship with a mate can make the transition to being nonviolent in their family interactions.
Moving on to a fourth familiar explanation for child abuse, there are some common situational factors that influence families and parents and increase the risks for child abuse. Typically, these are factors that increase family stress or social isolation. Specifically, such factors may include receiving public assistance or having low socioeconomic status (a combination of low income and low education). Other factors include having family members who are unemployed, underemployed (working in a job that requires lower qualifications than an individual possesses), or employed only part time. These financial difficulties cause great stress for families in meeting the needs of the individual members. Other stress-inducing familial characteristics are single-parent households and larger family size. Finally, social isolation can be devastating for families and family members. Having friends to talk to, who can be relied upon, and with whom kids can be dropped off occasionally is tremendously important for personal growth and satisfaction in life. In addition, social isolation and stress can cause individuals to be quick to lose their tempers, as well as cause people to be less rational in their decision making and to make mountains out of mole hills. These situations can lead families to be at greater risk for child abuse.
Finally, cultural views and supports (or lack thereof) can lead to greater amounts of child abuse in a society such as the United States. One such cultural view is that of societal support for physical punishment. This is problematic because there are similarities between the way criminals are dealt with and the way errant children are handled. The use of capital punishment is advocated for seriously violent criminals, and people are quick to use such idioms as “spare the rod and spoil the child” when it comes to the discipline or punishment of children. In fact, it was not until quite recently that parenting books began to encourage parents to use other strategies than spanking or other forms of corporal punishment in the discipline of their children. Only recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics has come out and recommended that parents do not spank or use other forms of violence on their children because of the deleterious effects such methods have on youngsters and their bonds with their parents. Nevertheless, regardless of recommendations, the culture of corporal punishment persists.
Another cultural view in the United States that can give rise to greater incidents of child abuse is the belief that after getting married, couples of course should want and have children. Culturally, Americans consider that children are a blessing, raising kids is the most wonderful thing a person can do, and everyone should have children. Along with this notion is the idea that motherhood is always wonderful; it is the most fulfilling thing a woman can do; and the bond between a mother and her child is strong, glorious, and automatic—all women love being mothers. Thus, culturally (and theoretically), society nearly insists that married couples have children and that they will love having children. But, after children are born, there is not much support for couples who have trouble adjusting to parenthood, or who do not absolutely love their new roles as parents. People look askance at parents who need help, and cannot believe parents who say anything negative about parenthood. As such, theoretically, society has set up a situation where couples are strongly encouraged to have kids, are told they will love kids, but then society turns a blind or disdainful eye when these same parents need emotional, financial, or other forms of help or support. It is these types of cultural viewpoints that increase the risks for child abuse in society.
The consequences of child abuse are tremendous and long lasting. Research has shown that the traumatic experience of childhood abuse is life changing. These costs may surface during adolescence, or they may not become evident until abused children have grown up and become abusing parents or abused spouses. Early identification and treatment is important to minimize these potential long-term effects. Whenever children say they have been abused, it is imperative that they be taken seriously and their abuse be reported. Suspicions of child abuse must be reported as well. If there is a possibility that a child is or has been abused, an investigation must be conducted.
Children who have been abused may exhibit traits such as the inability to love or have faith in others. This often translates into adults who are unable to establish lasting and stable personal relationships. These individuals have trouble with physical closeness and touching as well as emotional intimacy and trust. Further, these qualities tend to cause a fear of entering into new relationships, as well as the sabotaging of any current ones.
Psychologically, children who have been abused tend to have poor self-images or are passive, withdrawn, or clingy. They may be angry individuals who are filled with rage, anxiety, and a variety of fears. They are often aggressive, disruptive, and depressed. Many abused children have flashbacks and nightmares about the abuse they have experienced, and this may cause sleep problems as well as drug and alcohol problems. Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and antisocial personality disorder are both typical among maltreated children. Research has also shown that most abused children fail to reach “successful psychosocial functioning,” and are thus not resilient and do not resume a “normal life” after the abuse has ended.
Socially (and likely because of these psychological injuries), abused children have trouble in school, will have difficulty getting and remaining employed, and may commit a variety of illegal or socially inappropriate behaviors. Many studies have shown that victims of child abuse are likely to participate in high-risk behaviors such as alcohol or drug abuse, the use of tobacco, and high-risk sexual behaviors (e.g., unprotected sex, large numbers of sexual partners). Later in life, abused children are more likely to have been arrested and homeless. They are also less able to defend themselves in conflict situations and guard themselves against repeated victimizations.
Medically, abused children likely will experience health problems due to the high frequency of physical injuries they receive. In addition, abused children experience a great deal of emotional turmoil and stress, which can also have a significant impact on their physical condition. These health problems are likely to continue occurring into adulthood. Some of these longer-lasting health problems include headaches; eating problems; problems with toileting; and chronic pain in the back, stomach, chest, and genital areas. Some researchers have noted that abused children may experience neurological impairment and problems with intellectual functioning, while others have found a correlation between abuse and heart, lung, and liver disease, as well as cancer (Thomas, 2004).
Victims of sexual abuse show an alarming number of disturbances as adults. Some dislike and avoid sex, or experience sexual problems or disorders, while other victims appear to enjoy sexual activities that are self-defeating or maladaptive—normally called “dysfunctional sexual behavior”—and have many sexual partners.
Abused children also experience a wide variety of developmental delays. Many do not reach physical, cognitive, or emotional developmental milestones at the typical time, and some never accomplish what they are supposed to during childhood socialization. In the next section, these developmental delays are discussed as a means of identifying children who may be abused.
There are two primary ways of identifying children who are abused: spotting and evaluating physical injuries, and detecting and appraising developmental delays. Distinguishing physical injuries due to abuse can be difficult, particularly among younger children who are likely to get hurt or receive injuries while they are playing and learning to become ambulatory. Nonetheless, there are several types of wounds that children are unlikely to give themselves during their normal course of play and exploration. These less likely injuries may signal instances of child abuse.
While it is true that children are likely to get bruises, particularly when they are learning to walk or crawl, bruises on infants are not normal. Also, the back of the legs, upper arms, or on the chest, neck, head, or genitals are also locations where bruises are unlikely to occur during normal childhood activity. Further, bruises with clean patterns, like hand prints, buckle prints, or hangers (to name a few), are good examples of the types of bruises children do not give themselves.
Another area of physical injury where the source of the injury can be difficult to detect is fractures. Again, children fall out of trees, or crash their bikes, and can break limbs. These can be normal parts of growing up. However, fractures in infants less than 12 months old are particularly suspect, as infants are unlikely to be able to accomplish the types of movement necessary to actually break a leg or an arm. Further, multiple fractures, particularly more than one on a bone, should be examined more closely. Spiral or torsion fractures (when the bone is broken by twisting) are suspect because when children break their bones due to play injuries, the fractures are usually some other type (e.g., linear, oblique, compacted). In addition, when parents don’t know about the fracture(s) or how it occurred, abuse should be considered, because when children get these types of injuries, they need comfort and attention.
Head and internal injuries are also those that may signal abuse. Serious blows to the head cause internal head injuries, and this is very different from the injuries that result from bumping into things. Abused children are also likely to experience internal injuries like those to the abdomen, liver, kidney, and bladder. They may suffer a ruptured spleen, or intestinal perforation. These types of damages rarely happen by accident.
Burns are another type of physical injury that can happen by accident or by abuse. Nevertheless, there are ways to tell these types of burn injuries apart. The types of burns that should be examined and investigated are those where the burns are in particular locations. Burns to the bottom of the feet, genitals, abdomen, or other inaccessible spots should be closely considered. Burns of the whole hand or those to the buttocks are also unlikely to happen as a result of an accident.
Turning to the detection and appraisal of developmental delays, one can more readily assess possible abuse by considering what children of various ages should be able to accomplish, than by noting when children are delayed and how many milestones on which they are behind schedule. Importantly, a few delays in reaching milestones can be expected, since children develop individually and not always according to the norm. Nonetheless, when children are abused, their development is likely to be delayed in numerous areas and across many milestones.
As children develop and grow, they should be able to crawl, walk, run, talk, control going to the bathroom, write, set priorities, plan ahead, trust others, make friends, develop a good self-image, differentiate between feeling and behavior, and get their needs met in appropriate ways. As such, when children do not accomplish these feats, their circumstances should be examined.
Infants who are abused or neglected typically develop what is termed failure to thrive syndrome. This syndrome is characterized by slow, inadequate growth, or not “filling out” physically. They have a pale, colorless complexion and dull eyes. They are not likely to spend much time looking around, and nothing catches their eyes. They may show other signs of lack of nutrition such as cuts, bruises that do not heal in a timely way, and discolored fingernails. They are also not trusting and may not cry much, as they are not expecting to have their needs met. Older infants may not have developed any language skills, or these developments are quite slow. This includes both verbal and nonverbal means of communication.
Toddlers who are abused often become hypervigilant about their environments and others’ moods. They are more outwardly focused than a typical toddler (who is quite self-centered) and may be unable to separate themselves as individuals, or consider themselves as distinct beings. In this way, abused toddlers cannot focus on tasks at hand because they are too concerned about others’ reactions. They don’t play with toys, have no interest in exploration, and seem unable to enjoy life. They are likely to accept losses with little reaction, and may have age-inappropriate knowledge of sex and sexual relations. Finally, toddlers, whether they are abused or not, begin to mirror their parents’ behaviors. Thus, toddlers who are abused may mimic the abuse when they are playing with dolls or “playing house.”
Developmental delays can also be detected among abused young adolescents. Some signs include the failure to learn cause and effect, since their parents are so inconsistent. They have no energy for learning and have not developed beyond one- or two-word commands. They probably cannot follow complicated directions (such as two to three tasks per instruction), and they are unlikely to be able to think for themselves. Typically, they have learned that failure is totally unacceptable, but they are more concerned with the teacher’s mood than with learning and listening to instruction. Finally, they are apt to have been inadequately toilet trained and thus may be unable to control their bladders.
Older adolescents, because they are likely to have been abused for a longer period of time, continue to get further and further behind in their developmental achievements. Abused children this age become family nurturers. They take care of their parents and cater to their parents’ needs, rather than the other way around. In addition, they probably take care of any younger siblings and do the household chores. Because of these default responsibilities, they usually do not participate in school activities; they frequently miss days at school; and they have few, if any, friends. Because they have become so hypervigilant and have increasingly delayed development, they lose interest in and become disillusioned with education. They develop low self-esteem and little confidence, but seem old for their years. Children this age who are abused are still likely to be unable to control their bladders and may have frequent toileting accidents.
Other developmental delays can occur and be observed in abused and neglected children of any age. For example, malnutrition and withdrawal can be noticed in infants through teenagers. Maltreated children frequently have persistent or untreated illnesses, and these can become permanent disabilities if medical conditions go untreated for a long enough time. Another example can be the consequences of neurological damage. Beyond being a medical issue, this type of damage can cause problems with social behavior and impulse control, which, again, can be discerned in various ages of children.
Once child abuse is suspected, law enforcement officers, child protection workers, or various other practitioners may need to interview the child about the abuse or neglect he or she may have suffered. Interviewing children can be extremely difficult because children at various stages of development can remember only certain parts or aspects of the events in their lives. Also, interviewers must be careful that they do not put ideas or answers into the heads of the children they are interviewing. There are several general recommendations when interviewing children about the abuse they may have experienced. First, interviewers must acknowledge that even when children are abused, they likely still love their parents. They do not want to be taken away from their parents, nor do they want to see their parents get into trouble. Interviewers must not blame the parents or be judgmental about them or the child’s family. Beyond that, interviews should take place in a safe, neutral location. Interviewers can use dolls and role-play to help children express the types of abuse of which they may be victims.
Finally, interviewers must ask age-appropriate questions. For example, 3-year-olds can probably only answer questions about what happened and who was involved. Four- to five-year-olds can also discuss where the incidents occurred. Along with what, who, and where, 6- to 8-year-olds can talk about the element of time, or when the abuse occurred. Nine- to 10-year-olds are able to add commentary about the number of times the abuse occurred. Finally, 11-year-olds and older children can additionally inform interviewers about the circumstances of abusive instances.
A conclusion is not a summary of what a writer has already mentioned. On the contrary, it is the last point made. Taking every detail of the investigation, the researcher makes the concluding point. In this part of a paper, you need to put a full stop in your research. You need to persuade the reader in your opinion.
Never add any new information in the conclusion. You can present solutions to the problem and you dwell upon the results, but only if this information has been already mentioned in the main body.
Child advocates recommend a variety of strategies to aid families and children experiencing abuse. These recommendations tend to focus on societal efforts as well as more individual efforts. One common strategy advocated is the use of public service announcements that encourage individuals to report any suspected child abuse. Currently, many mandatory reporters (those required by law to report abuse such as teachers, doctors, and social service agency employees) and members of communities feel that child abuse should not be reported unless there is substantial evidence that abuse is indeed occurring. Child advocates stress that this notion should be changed, and that people should report child abuse even if it is only suspected. Public service announcements should stress that if people report suspected child abuse, the worst that can happen is that they might be wrong, but in the grander scheme of things that is really not so bad.
Child advocates also stress that greater interagency cooperation is needed. This cooperation should be evident between women’s shelters, child protection agencies, programs for at-risk children, medical agencies, and law enforcement officers. These agencies typically do not share information, and if they did, more instances of child abuse would come to the attention of various authorities and could be investigated and managed. Along these lines, child protection agencies and programs should receive more funding. When budgets are cut, social services are often the first things to go or to get less financial support. Child advocates insist that with more resources, child protection agencies could hire more workers, handle more cases, conduct more investigations, and follow up with more children and families.
Continuing, more educational efforts must be initiated about issues such as punishment and discipline styles and strategies; having greater respect for children; as well as informing the community about what child abuse is, and how to recognize it. In addition, Americans must alter the cultural orientation about child bearing and child rearing. Couples who wish to remain child-free must be allowed to do so without disdain. And, it must be acknowledged that raising children is very difficult, is not always gloriously wonderful, and that parents who seek help should be lauded and not criticized. These kinds of efforts can help more children to be raised in nonviolent, emotionally satisfying families, and thus become better adults.
When you write a paper, make sure you are aware of all the formatting requirements. Incorrect formatting can lower your mark, so do not underestimate the importance of this part.
Organizing your bibliography is quite a tedious and time-consuming task. Still, you need to do it flawlessly. For this reason, analyze all the standards you need to meet or ask professionals to help you with it. All the comas, colons, brackets etc. matter. They truly do.
- American Academy of Pediatrics: https://www.aap.org/
- Bancroft, L., & Silverman, J. G. (2002). The batterer as parent. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
- Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, 42 U.S.C.A. § 5106g (1998).
- Childhelp: Child Abuse Statistics: https://www.childhelp.org/child-abuse-statistics/
- Children’s Defense Fund: https://www.childrensdefense.org/
- Child Stats.gov: https://www.childstats.gov/
- Child Welfare League of America: https://www.cwla.org/
- Crosson-Tower, C. (2008). Understanding child abuse and neglect (7th ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
- DeBecker, G. (1999). Protecting the gift: Keeping children and teenagers safe (and parents sane). New York: Bantam Dell.
- Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire: https://cola.unh.edu/family-research-laboratory
- Guterman, N. B. (2001). Stopping child maltreatment before it starts: Emerging horizons in early home visitation services. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
- Herman, J. L. (2000). Father-daughter incest. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
- Medline Plus, Child Abuse: https://medlineplus.gov/childabuse.html
- Myers, J. E. B. (Ed.). (1994). The backlash: Child protection under fire. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
- National Center for Missing and Exploited Children: https://www.missingkids.org/home
- National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System. (2006). Child maltreatment 2006: Reports from the states to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families.
- New York University Silver School of Social Work: https://socialwork.nyu.edu/
- Pitzer, R. L. (1997). Corporal punishment in the discipline of children in the home: Research update for practitioners. Paper presented at the National Council on Family Relations Annual Conference, Washington, DC.
- RAND, Child Abuse and Neglect: https://www.rand.org/topics/child-abuse-and-neglect.html
- Richards, C. E. (2001). The loss of innocents: Child killers and their victims. Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources.
- Straus, M. A. (2001). Beating the devil out of them: Corporal punishment in American families and its effects on children. Edison, NJ: Transaction.
- Thomas, P. M. (2004). Protection, dissociation, and internal roles: Modeling and treating the effects of child abuse. Review of General Psychology, 7(15).
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/
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A Step-by-Step Guide to Save Time and Energy
With all the things you have going on as a student, writing a paper can seem like a daunting task. Many students opt to put off that daunting task, which ultimately leads to bad grades on papers that would otherwise have been easy A's. On top of that, papers often make up a large portion of a student's overall grade in any class, which makes them even higher risk ventures.
Here, we'll walk you through the most important aspects of making a paper, from beginning to end so you won't have to whip up a paper in an afternoon, plagiarize, or neglect to do the assignment.
This image and list-based, step-by-step tutorial is the closest thing to writing a plug and chug paper you can get. In this tutorial you'll learn:
- Techniques to clearly understanding assignments and what professors want to see in your writing
- Techniques for managing your time while you work on a long term research paper or short term writing assignment
- Approaches to generating solid topic ideas that will make your paper interesting and engaging
- Tips for crafting a strong thesis statement that can be sustained throughout the whole of a long assignment
- Tips for crafting transitions between ideas, sentences and paragraphs
- Techniques for revising and editing your paper before you hand it in
So, are you ready to ace this paper of yours? Get out some paper and a pencil and let's get started!
How do I Know What My Professor is Looking for?
The answer to this question is easy: look at the materials the prof gives you. But, it’s important to get started the exact same day that the prof hands you the assignment, and it will only take 30 minutes. There’s no time to waste.
Let’s deal with the first one right now: Looking at what the prof wants you to do.
1. Write to the Rubric
The first important step in writing a paper is taking some time to understand what the professor is looking for. If you know that, you can write to the rubric and pick up easy points along the way.
Universities mandate that professors given students rubrics or some form of assessment guideline. Remember, the rubric for the course on the assignment sheet you’ve been given, you will find a general rubric in the class syllabus, or the professor will include a rubric with an assignment sheet.
If the professor does not provide these things to you, don’t be afraid to ask for them. It’s completely unfair to assess a student if the student doesn’t know what’s expected of them. When you ask, be courteous.
2. Begin with the End in Mind
Once you have that rubric and assignment sheet in hand, you’re ready to discern the things your prof will look for when grading the assignment. This means you can begin with the end in mind, crafting the paper around what you know the prof wants to see. To begin with the end in mind, you need to follow three simple steps:
– Look at the Assignment With a Critical Eye
Take a few moments to review the assignment and rubric with a pen and highlighter, making notes and underlining key elements the prof wants to see.
– Write an Anchor Sentence
Once you know what the prof wants, you can write a one sentence reference that you can refer to whenever you feel like you’re going off course.
– Assess your Gaps
Make a list of three strengths and weaknesses you have as a writer. Be mindful of the pitfalls and confident about your high points.
All this should take you no more than 10 or 15 minutes. It may seem counter-intuitive, but using time to get organized saves you time later, and makes the writing process so much simpler. So, here it is, step-by-step:
3. Look at the Assignment Critically
Now, let’s take a look at a sample assignment. Say you have to write a paper for your Linguistics class. Take a look at this assignment from an actual college professor:
Yow! Even with bullets and commands that’s a lot of text. Let’s take it section by section, one directive at a time.
First, let’s start with the macro. Go through and find the concepts the prof wants you to cover in the paper.
This prof is doing what profs do: pontificating. Lord love ‘em, but professors are notorious for giving more information than necessary or saying more than what needs saying, so do your best to boil the assignment down to the essentials with your highlighter:
Take note, these macro concepts are often suggestions, not commands. They are the prof telling you how to be impressive, clear, or to raise your grade through a demonstration of your wits and knowledge.
Your profs know when you don’t take time prewriting, and they know when you’re being wishy-washy or only reading to reinforce your opinion. This is your prof letting you know that.
Second, go micro. Go through and underline actionable items. These are the items that must be included in the paper for you to get a good grade. Usually they are very specific:
Clearly, if your paper uses first-person pronouns, it will irk the person giving you the grade—probably best to stay away from that. Also, you should be using scholarly research, which means no random Googling and picking the first things you ping.
Take a look at the first section of the assignment sheet. See where the prof tells you exactly what your paper should be?
Also, take a look at the section at the “Requirements” section. This paper better be formatted in a particular way!
Also, watch for specific requests about format changes and due dates. Circle them!
These are no-nonsense statements/compromises that the prof needs you to abide.
Why would a prof do this? Well, the answer is simple. Your profs aren’t trying to bust your chops (they do, in fact, have other things to do than make you miserable)—they’re trying to streamline the grading process. Imagine you have 75 papers to grade written by your 75 students.
Imagine just how much variation and diversity would occur between those 75 people and their papers if the prof left it all to chance—all of these students like different fonts, would cite things differently based on their preferences, and would hand in widely varied papers, at least doubling the time it would take to read those papers.
So, don’t you want to help that prof out? Make that prof love you by following these directions. If you follow the directions, this prof will direct their ire elsewhere.
Now that you understand why profs are such format sticklers, take a look at the rubric:
The rubric is a list of direct touch points that will be examined by the professor as they grade your work. Take note, they’re specific and they break down your potential performance. In this case, you can see five discrete categories, each with its own stakes, and the number value that corresponds to your performance:
The prof will take the rubric and keep it within reach while grading. Along with making notes on your paper, the prof will also check off your performance in each category—summarizing your performance in that category:
If you have a hundred-point paper, each one of these categories is worth 20 points. The prof will add up the categories and multiply that number by 4 to get your grade: 4 + 5 + 5 + 4 + 5 = 23 x 4 = 92.
To get an A on this paper, you have to perform with excellence in 3 categories and above average in at least 2 of the other categories.
Now you have a goal. Which three categories are you going to absolutely kill in?
At least one of them—formatting—is a gimmie. All it takes is attention to detail—Microsoft Word has all the tools you need to score perfectly there.
Focus on Development and Body Paragraphs for your other two. They’re simple—almost completely made of a thesis statement and transitions.
Now that you have that figured out, let’s move on to the next step: Crafting a reminder that you can revisit while you write.
4. Writing an Anchor Sentence
It might seem like a silly thing to do, but an anchor sentence is as vital as a thesis statement. It’s essentially a thesis statement for the paper writing process. With this sentence you will remind yourself about what the prof wants and how you’re going to give it to them.
– Summarize the Elements
It’s clear from the highlighting and underlining that the prof wants an argumentative paper that’s well-organized and thoughtful. Note that there is nothing about originality in this rubric.
The prof isn’t asking you to reinvent the wheel or come up with something that will change the field of Linguistics forever—they’re simply asking you to take some important ideas from your linguistics class and apply them to something that you like.
– Understand the Concept
It’s also clear that this prof wants you to synthesize the research in the field of linguistics, not conduct new research.
This goes back to the originality idea—demonstrate you’ve been listening and can apply the concepts of the class to the practices and concepts in another field of study or personal interest.
– Create the Anchor
Now that you have an idea of what’s needed, go ahead and write one or two sentences combining steps 1 and 2:
In this paper, I will demonstrate my understanding of a linguistic concept I learned this semester and how it relates to my field of study. I will demonstrate this knowledge by staying organized, using relevant research, and sticking to my thesis statement.
Yes, it seems a bit silly. But now you have an anchor. If you get stuck while writing, pull out this sentence and see where you’ve gone astray, or where you go to get back on track.
5. Assessing Your Gaps
You know what the prof wants, you know how you’re going to give it to them. Now all you need to know is where it could all fall off the rails. In this step, you name your strengths and weakness so you know exactly where you stand walking in.
It’s super-simple—all you do is answer two questions, making a list of two or three things for each:
- As a writer, I know I’m not so great at … developing a thesis, staying organized, and conducting research .
- As a writer, I know I’m great at … coming up with interesting ideas, articulating my thoughts clearly, and using good grammar .
Simple as that. Now all you need to do is play to those strengths and be cognizant of the weaknesses. You’re ready to move on to the next step, so get to it! Let’s talk about how to execute.
How do I Organize my Research Paper?
1. sit down.
Ernest Hemingway famously said that “the hardest part about writing is getting your ass in the chair.” And he’s absolutely correct. If you can sit down to write, you’ve got 90% of the work behind you already.
Completing this second step immediately—before you go to bed on the day you get the assignment—is essential to acing this paper.
That said, you should go back to your room, get out your calendar, and start looking at specific pockets of time in your days between when you’re assigned the paper and when the assignment is due.
Follow these tips when making the schedule:
Make the time non-negotiable
It will be tough, but don’t let friends or activities derail your schedule. Set the plan and execute, execute, execute—this is the only way to achieve the results you want.
Be specific about how you spend the time
When making the schedule, set completion goals so that the time isn’t open-ended. If your time is nebulous, you will be more likely to drop the ball. You’ve got a date with a chair and life-long learning.
Commit to the process
Keep in mind that one of the crucial ingredients of successful writing is time. You need time to think, research, and create. If you fail to acknowledge this, you will write a crumby paper every time.
You’re working toward something bigger
It can be easy to fixate on the trees at the expense of seeing the whole forest, so be sure to remember that what you’re doing is adding to your overall career. If the paper is good, you can use it as a writing sample or try to publish it, which will build your résumé. Resist the impulse to think of the paper as a hurdle.
Take advantage of support systems
You’re not writing in a vacuum—you have academic support at your fingertips, as well as friends who are in the same boat. Make an appointment with the writing center to get a semi-professional set of eyes, and had that paper to a friend for quick notes.
2. Get Organized
Your next step is to organize your time. You’re going to fill out an hour or two of work each day, accounting for other classes, social engagements, and priority requirements.
Make a specific tab for your paper, and fill in the times you can work:
The most important part about this is that you’re specific —setting tangible completion goals for each work session. Most of your sessions should be no more than an hour or two, but some activities—like research—might need to be a bit longer:
If you notice, most of your writing time will be spent on the front end—creating the first draft of the paper. This is because everything after that will be revisionary.
Don’t forget to find your revision buddy, and make an appointment at the writing center!
If you stick to this schedule, you will not only complete your paper on time, you will complete it well. Every writer on the planet will tell you that the schedule is the foundation of good writing—the more time you spend in the chair, the better the writing gets.
How do I Come Up with Ideas for a Paper?
So you’ve completed the first two steps before bed on the day your assigned the paper, now comes the tough stuff. It will, however, be a bit easier now that you know exactly what your prof wants and you’ve got a schedule in place.
To generate ideas, you’ve got a few options. Free writing is often popular, but it can be really time consuming, and also not particularly helpful for research papers. As well, some profs advise talking it out with a friend, which can be distracting.
But you don’t have much time, so you want to focus and narrow your ideas—it’s essential to success. The best method for this is mapping. Mapping is a technique that allows you to freely record your ideas in a logical manner.
Mapping will give you strong guiding questions as well as demonstrate how your ideas are connected, which is super useful for writing a long research paper. Mapping looks something like this:
Note that the ideas get more specific the further away they are from the center topic. As well, note that they’re written as interrogatives—questions stimulate thought. Circle the ones that are most specific and uses them for your paper.
Pro tip: One simple angle that always seems to work is “how is your subject different, altered, or effected by technology and the contemporary trappings of the 21 st century?” You can apply this concept to every paper you will write in college.
So, apply your field of study, your interests, or something topical to the subject. Let’s say you’re studying to be a teacher and are interested in ESL students—that’s a lens every topic and question in this list can be examined through. Here are some ideas based upon that…
- Language acquisition: How can new technologies help second language learners learn English faster?
- Pragmatics: How do ESL students understand pragmatics in English contexts?
- Universal Grammar: How does an ESL student learn to transition from one language to another?
- Phonetics: How can ESL students learn English sounds more effectively?
Out of the above, which sounds like it has the most juice? Probably number one. Even without doing any Googling, it seems evident that there will be research in this area that you can draw from. As well, you can rely on non-technical, non-academic observation to give you better ideas—you can use your experience to shape your subject matter. So go with number 1.
Now, plug the subject into Wikipedia to get an overview of what the subject is.
Ctrl + F to search the page and look for key words, like technology
No shock that there’s a whole section on Wikipedia to get you going. Take a look at these specific ideas that you can use in your research phase:
Click the numbered hypertext to see resources. Looks like 23-26 will be helpful:
And look, you can scroll to the bottom of the page to get a jump on specific articles to use in your research. As well, 51 mentions your keyword!
Now that you know—on a very general level—what’s happening in the field, you can get going on making your thesis and outline.
How do I Write a Thesis Statement?
With our tutorial on writing a thesis statement, you will see thesis examples, ways to craft a thesis sentence, and how to organize your paper around a thesis statement. First, you’ll need a decent grasp of your topic. Second, you will need specific examples to write about. Third, you will need to organize those three items effectively. And, fourth, you will need to make an outline.
For this step-by-step tutorial of thesis examples, we’re going to break things down for super efficiency so you can create the backbone of the paper.
The writing of the thesis is broken into four parts. Master these and the paper will be a cinch.
1. Creating the Topic Overview
The first step to creating a successful thesis statement is generating a concise overview of the topic at hand. In this case, technology and the ESL classroom is the topic upon which the paper is based. So the first portion of your thesis should be a generalized statement that describes the imperatives which make your paper relevant.
Begin by making a list of why you think your paper topic is relevant. In this case, we could say that…
– technology use inside and outside the classroom has increased in the past decade.
– students use their phones in class, which is a distraction to learning.
– social media interaction is now just as important to most students as face-to-face interaction.
– students are often taken from the expansive digital world outside of the classroom and are bored in a classroom with walls.
– student learning is increasingly social and communal in nature, as opposed to being delivered by an expert.
Now, let’s take those ideas and try to make them into one sentence:
Teachers who refuse to use technology in the classroom are not engaging their students and are disregarding their students’ natural ways of learning and their social needs.
Sounds pretty good, eh? Yep! Now, let’s punch up that language a bit, so we can sound a bit smarter:
Teachers who do not embrace technology in their classes risk losing students to academic boredom, not to mention that they will be perceived by their students as tedious and irrelevant. This is because technology and sociability aren’t extracurricular—students’ lives are increasingly technology oriented and social in nature in ways that weren’t around years ago.
Oh! Even better! But there are still some simple things we can do to punch up the language, like use Word’s synonyms function by right-clicking:
Be careful as you do this—sometimes the tool can be a bit off since it can’t improvise well for word forms. But go through word by word and tighten, change, and you’ll get this:
That sounds great, doesn’t it? With adding then subtracting, expanding then consolidating, moving from the general to the specific, you can craft an overview to be used in the thesis. Also, note the use of old tricks, like opposing vocabulary (extracurricular v. intercurricular) which heighten the rhetoric.
So, check the rubric—did we hit any goals? Yep! See Development, Language and vocabulary, and Sentence structure!
2. Constructing the Specifics
Now that you’ve nailed down the overview, switch gears into getting really narrow. Here, you’re going to identify three solutions to the issue that you presented in the crafting of the overview.
While these things will be more specific than the previous section, they aren’t going to be hyper-specific, but broad enough to act as a reference points for the rest of the paper.
The problem presented was that instructors take away learning tools from students and replace them with less interesting forms of learning and stop social interaction with the classroom. As well, instructors give little attention to technology-based learning tools as an avenue for education.
How can this problem be fixed? Teachers should…
– Leverage technology to get students talking about work when not in class
– Integrate unconventional technologies in class (like iPhones)
– Make technology use a classroom priority
Now, take those things and combine them into a single statement:
ESL instructors should make using technology a priority of education, both inside and outside the classroom.
But, let’s try massage it a bit more, like the last one. Let’s try to keep our triad of ideas intact, that way we can make at least three different sections to the paper:
ESL instructors should try to increase digital interactions between students outside of class, use digital technology inside of class, and make digital avenues of education a learning priority.
Pretty good, but we can make it sound even more academic. Again, use the Word synonym function, and try to bring out the parallel structure even more:
3. Crafting the Thesis Sentences
We’re so close to being done with the thesis! All we need now is to connect the two sentences together with some kind of sentence, transitional phrase, or conjunction. In this case (as with almost everything in writing, actually) keep it simple:
Some of you are saying “Hey! Wait a sec! You can’t begin a sentence with because !” In fact, you can. You’ve been lied to if that’s what you think.
Many teachers tell students this because it prevents them from writing incomplete thoughts, or writing sloppily, but it’s totally street legal and, in this case, quite stylish as a prepositional phrase. So use it with abandon, so long as you complete the sentence!
Now, check the rubric again!—clarity of the argument, arguable thesis, and well-organized ideas! Check and check and check! You’re killing it.
You have a thesis!
4. Make an Outline
From there, you can also build your outline, and break up your potential sources, like so:
Introduction/Hook (Engaging anecdote to transition you into the thesis)
Part 1 (first portion of the thesis)
– 3-4 sources
Part 2 (second portion of the thesis
Part 3 (third portion of the thesis)
Conclusion/Charge (Wrapping up, charging the reader to make a change)
It’s really just that simple. And, to top it all off, you now have three areas of research to focus on!
Now that we’ve got that square, let’s move on to some techniques for transitioning between ideas.
How do I Create a Transition?
Often students writing long, research-based papers struggle with smoothly connecting the related ideas within the paper. This isn’t uncommon, and—good news—is easily fixed! There are three simple steps. First, you must identify the relationship between the two ideas. Second, you must craft a transition. And, third, you must be careful of potential pitfalls.
1. Determine the Relationship
Let’s say you have this paragraph to open the first section of your Linguistics paper:
You need to get from that really broad idea to a much simpler idea: that people from different cultures have trouble communicating, or—as it’s written in the paper, this:
See how jarring the logical jump is from the broad statement to the specific assertion? Take a look at the two statements together, as they are color coded—red being broad, blue being specific:
You need something between them to link them logically together and to help the reader make the leap with you, so you’ll need to make a sentence to go between them—one that embodies both the broad and the specific together.
Take a look at this, which logically fills in the gap for the reader, so that the reader doesn’t have to fill in the gaps themselves:
Now give it a read all together:
2. Make the Connections
– the author identified the relationship.
It’s clear here that people’s abilities to communicate define their cultural importance. This idea is loosely connected to another idea the author is writing toward—that those unique cultural differences are often the culprit for communication breakdown.
The author sees that the relationship is one of contrasts, so they try to name the contrast to create a connection in the transition—the green text is the merging of contrasts:
– The author crafted the transition
Using a really simple, but subtle writing skill, this author used word choice to make deeper connections between the sentences. See the color coded portions:
The phrases “existing in the world” and “shared paradigm” mean almost the same thing. As do the phrases “mutual conventions” and “cultural overlap.” The author is essentially re-saying what was just previously stated, but in a more specific way or with different vocabulary. Not how the ideas from each paragraph come together in the transition.
– The author is careful not to fall into traps
In a paper, it’s easy to use simple transition words— therefore, consequently, etc. There is nothing wrong with a transition word here and there, but they are very easy to overuse. Most blogs, like this one , this one , and this one make using transition words an important part of this process.
And it is, sort of, but we’re teaching you how to do this better than average, remember?
You’re trying to ace this paper, which means you have to do a little extra and move past the things that all students can do into things that exceptional students do.
The elegant transition based on nuanced vocabulary is an exceptional student move. Check it against the rubric: readability/unity, logical/seamless transitions, demonstration of knowledge through word choice, vocab, and logical thought—you got it! Bam!
How Do I Edit My Paper?
After you’ve filled in your outline and placed some of your research into your paper, you will have completed first draft. This is more than most students have when they hand in a paper. The editing portion has five steps: First, you revise to tighten and clarify. Second, you edit for grammar, usage, and mechanics. Third, you give a clean copy to a friend and visit academic support. Fourth, you do your final read through to clean things up. And, fifth, recheck the paper against the rubric.
Remember when you were one of those foolish plebes handing in a paper you wrote hours before it was due and hope for an C? Aren’t you glad you know better now?
You’ve finished your preliminary draft and now you need to get it looking sexy for your prof. There are two ways to do this—revising and editing.
– Revising comes first. Revising is when you literally re-vision the piece. You make big changes—fix transitions or pieces research alongside organization and structure.
– Editing comes second. Editing is making small changes to the piece—correcting the grammar, usage, and mechanics, changing the diction to alter the tone a bit.
These terms aren’t interchangeable, though many people make mistakes and use them interchangeably.
Step 1: Revise
After you have finished that paper, it’s important to go back and make large-scale changes. You aren’t going to change the bedrock of the paper—the thesis and the research to go along with it—but you are going to change things that make the paper flow, like smoothing out the transitions, evening out the structure and order of the paragraphs, and make sure all the ideas link together naturally.
This is also a time to add ideas to the basic premise of each section or to eliminate tangents that you may have followed in the heat of the moment. Add what must be added and cut out anything that doesn’t need to be there. Some common things to look for:
– Paragraphs have a logical unfolding order
– Rambling, overly long sentences
– All sections echo back to the thesis
– Appropriate, academic tone
– Engaging to reader
– Claims contain evidence and support
– Transitions are clear
– All ideas are fully developed
– Adding section headings
– Introduction and conclusion serve thesis well
Step 2: Edit
Now that the paper is set, your job is to go through and tighten all the sentences, make changes to word choice (remember Word’s synonym function), and correct and errors in grammar or punctuation that you find. Some common things to look for:
- – Eliminate contractions
- – Comma/semi-colon use
- – Spelling errors
- – Clear pronoun reference
- – Format specific (italics, bolds, etc.)
- – Quotation rules obeyed
- – Apostrophes for plurals and possessives
- – Easily confused words ( too, to , and two )
- – Misplaced or dangling modifiers
- – Incomplete sentences
Pro reading tip: While you’re re-reading for your edits, it might be good to move through the paper backwards, that way you can disorient yourself a little and catch more mistakes. Start with the last sentence, then read the second to last sentence, and so on until you get to the first sentence.
Step 3: Review
Next, you’re ready to give this paper to other people for them to examine. First, find a friend you trust and share the paper with them. Next, make an appointment with the campus writing center. With both of these reviews, hand over this set of questions for your reviewers to answer:
- Summarize the main points of this paper in your own words.
- Is the thesis clear and focused, does it fit well with the introduction?
- Is the end of the paper effective? Does it summarize the content well and invite the reader to action?
- Has the argument of the paper been fully addressed?
- Are there any places where the analysis in the paper falls short or is incomplete?
- Are the transitions fluid and succinct? Are there are jarring jumps between ideas?
- Is the research well integrated to the paper? Is there a good balance between my voice and the voices of my sources?
- Do you see any inconsistencies with grammar, usage, or mechanics?
Your reviewer can answer these directly with by talking it out, or offer suggestions by making notes. Once you have this feedback, make the suggested changes you feel make sense.
Step 4: Last Pass
You’ve done so much work and you’re almost complete! You have one more important step: download the Natural Reader Pro app . This app will cost you $10 and is well worth the price. Natural Reader reads documents, PDFs, and websites to you in a range of speeds and voices so that you can hear your paper as it is written, not as you wish it was written.
Print out your paper, fire up Natural Reader, and follow along. Mark any spots that don’t feel right and correct any final mistakes.
Step 5. Check the Rubric
At this point, it might seem like it’s over the top with all the excellent work you just finished. But take one moment to look at the rubric one last time. And the assignment sheet, too.
Ask yourself honestly: Did I fulfill these requirements?
Based on all the work you did above, it’s very unlikely that you didn’t nail the assignment. Unless there are any glaring errors, you’re finished!
Print that sucker out and hand it in! You’re done! Get ready to see a bump in your GPA!
We hope you’ve enjoyed this College Choice tutorial on writing the perfect research paper. Stay tuned for more tutorials on all things related to thriving in college.
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College students in nearly every field write research papers, including business, sciences, and humanities students. To write a strong research paper, learners conduct research, evaluate information, and synthesize their findings. Gathering and evaluating research sources is the first step to writing a compelling paper.
This guide to college research papers explores common research strategies, tips for evaluating scholarly sources, and online resources for college students. The following sections also highlight popular online research databases, such as Google Scholar, ERIC, and PubMed Central.
Understanding and Finding Sources
While writing college research papers, learners use many types of sources. Students must be able to identify different types of sources and use them effectively together. Most research authorities define three major types of research sources: primary, secondary, and tertiary. Online research databases typically feature all three types of sources.
Primary sources recount information as close as possible to the original source. Examples include statistics and data from original research, speeches and interviews, and court decisions. Primary sources also include original texts such as novels, journals, and letters.
Secondary sources interpret and analyze primary sources. Secondary sources include scholarly journal articles, reports, and documentaries. Most research papers cite both primary and secondary sources. Primary sources often form the basis of a paper, while secondary sources add depth through critical analysis.
Tertiary sources identify and catalog primary and secondary sources. Bibliographies, literature reviews, and indexes are tertiary sources.
10 Search Engines for College Research
- Collapse All
This search engine for scholarly literature indexes most major academic research sources. The comprehensive database includes academic journals, conference papers, academic books, dissertations, and technical reports. Users can also find patents and legal opinions.
Google Scholar offers a comprehensive selection of research sources. However, the database may not include shorter pieces from academic journals, such as editorials, book reviews, and news sections.
Google Books stores and catalogs scans of print books, including many academic publications. As of 2019, the service includes more than 40 million books written in more than 400 languages. Google Books offers access to a wealth of research information, but some sources may include scanning or metadata errors. The database makes no guarantee of scholarly authenticity, and some books may include incorrect information.
Similar to Google Scholar, Microsoft Academic offers a searchable database of academic publications and other research resources. Users can search and browse publications from more than 49,000 academic journals and 27,000 research institutions. The service uses semantic search technology, which can provide more accurate results based on keywords.
The Microsoft Academic database features a huge array of research publications. However, the service is set to suspend access on December 31, 2021.
Bielefeld University Library maintains this resource, which provides access to more than 270 million academic documents. More than 9,000 content providers contribute research. Base carefully evaluates and indexes sources, ensuring that all content meets the highest academic standards. Users can search for terms in more than 20 languages. All search results display in-depth bibliographic information. About 60% of Base's content is available for free.
This targeted academic search engine serves teachers, students, administrators, and researchers. The database features hundreds of thousands of reputable research sources. Users can access publications from colleges, government agencies, and noncommercial research organizations. Large portions of the site's documents are editor-reviewed.
The service offers useful search specifications for teachers and education majors. Users can filter results by school subject and grade level. They can also find educational activities and lesson plans.
Users can search more than 60 federal scientific databases and more than 2,200 websites. This online database compiles research and development data from all types of federal science agencies. Participating U.S. agencies include the USDA, NASA, and the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Science.gov offers valuable resources for science students and researchers, but the service isn't practical for conducting research in other fields.
Refseek offers access to more than five billion research documents. Resources include books, academic journals, newspapers, encyclopedias, and web pages. Refseek's databases cover subjects including writing, visual arts, mathematics, and coding. Refseek offers a practical approach to research. That said, the service delivers less comprehensive results than other academic databases.
Educational Resources Information Center
This searchable education research database serves academics and students. Users can access publications from hundreds of academic journals. Additional sources include policy organizations and federal departments.
Unlike many college research databases, ERIC does not require institutional affiliation. The general public can access information for free. However, ERIC primarily contains education publications, making it less useful for students in other fields.
PubMed Central hosts research publications in biomedical and life sciences. The U.S. National Institutes of Health's National Library of Medicine operates this database, which contains more than seven million articles. Users can browse and search the database of journals, digitized content, and author manuscripts. All content is free to access.
PubMed Central is an excellent resource for science research papers. However, students in other fields may find the site less useful.
Semantic Scholar uses artificial intelligence to help students identify relevant college research paper sources. The site uses machine learning to draw connections between papers and identify relevant publications. Operated by the Allen Institute for AI, Semantic Scholar maintains partnerships with more than 50 scholarly societies and academic publishers. The database contains more than 190 million papers, covering all major scientific fields. The site also hosts articles from other fields, such as the humanities.
Research Tips for College Students
Browsing databases can overwhelm even organized students. Smart research involves refining searches and narrowing down findings. This section highlights tips to help learners perform research efficiently.
How to Evaluate a Resource for Academic Research
While writing a research paper, students should use information that is authentic, reputable, and up to date. This section highlights key questions to ask yourself when evaluating research sources.
College Research Resources
To produce a strong college research paper, students should use relevant and reputable sources. The following websites offer academic resources for college students. These resources help users identify the best sources for research papers.
RADAR stands for relevance, authority, date, appearance, and reason. This research technique can help students quickly evaluate research sources and determine their usefulness.
OWL at Purdue
Pudue's Online Writing Lab offers comprehensive resources for academic writing and research. The site features information on common types of papers, academic formatting, and citation practices.
This free research assistant tool compiles, organizes, and cites research sources. Users can arrange information and quickly search and view research sources.
Determine If a Source Is Scholarly
The University of Illinois Library offers this guide to determining a research source's scholarly authenticity. The guide includes evaluation criteria and a flowchart.
SUNY Empire State College's writing center offers this comprehensive guide to identifying and locating research sources. The guide outlines major research sources and techniques.
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- Research guides
Writing an Educational Research Paper
Research paper sections, customary parts of an education research paper.
There is no one right style or manner for writing an education paper. Content aside, the writing style and presentation of papers in different educational fields vary greatly. Nevertheless, certain parts are common to most papers, for example:
Contains the paper's title, the author's name, address, phone number, e-mail, and the day's date.
Not every education paper requires an abstract. However, for longer, more complex papers abstracts are particularly useful. Often only 100 to 300 words, the abstract generally provides a broad overview and is never more than a page. It describes the essence, the main theme of the paper. It includes the research question posed, its significance, the methodology, and the main results or findings. Footnotes or cited works are never listed in an abstract. Remember to take great care in composing the abstract. It's the first part of the paper the instructor reads. It must impress with a strong content, good style, and general aesthetic appeal. Never write it hastily or carelessly.
Introduction and Statement of the Problem
A good introduction states the main research problem and thesis argument. What precisely are you studying and why is it important? How original is it? Will it fill a gap in other studies? Never provide a lengthy justification for your topic before it has been explicitly stated.
Limitations of Study
Indicate as soon as possible what you intend to do, and what you are not going to attempt. You may limit the scope of your paper by any number of factors, for example, time, personnel, gender, age, geographic location, nationality, and so on.
Discuss your research methodology. Did you employ qualitative or quantitative research methods? Did you administer a questionnaire or interview people? Any field research conducted? How did you collect data? Did you utilize other libraries or archives? And so on.
The research process uncovers what other writers have written about your topic. Your education paper should include a discussion or review of what is known about the subject and how that knowledge was acquired. Once you provide the general and specific context of the existing knowledge, then you yourself can build on others' research. The guide Writing a Literature Review will be helpful here.
Main Body of Paper/Argument
This is generally the longest part of the paper. It's where the author supports the thesis and builds the argument. It contains most of the citations and analysis. This section should focus on a rational development of the thesis with clear reasoning and solid argumentation at all points. A clear focus, avoiding meaningless digressions, provides the essential unity that characterizes a strong education paper.
After spending a great deal of time and energy introducing and arguing the points in the main body of the paper, the conclusion brings everything together and underscores what it all means. A stimulating and informative conclusion leaves the reader informed and well-satisfied. A conclusion that makes sense, when read independently from the rest of the paper, will win praise.
See the Citation guide .
Education research papers often contain one or more appendices. An appendix contains material that is appropriate for enlarging the reader's understanding, but that does not fit very well into the main body of the paper. Such material might include tables, charts, summaries, questionnaires, interview questions, lengthy statistics, maps, pictures, photographs, lists of terms, glossaries, survey instruments, letters, copies of historical documents, and many other types of supplementary material. A paper may have several appendices. They are usually placed after the main body of the paper but before the bibliography or works cited section. They are usually designated by such headings as Appendix A, Appendix B, and so on.
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- Last Updated: Oct 25, 2023 10:42 AM
- Subjects: Education
- Tags: education , education_paper , education_research_paper