This article was co-authored by Michelle Golden. Michelle Golden is an English teacher in Athens, Georgia. She received her PhD in English from Georgia State University in 2015. There are 10 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.
Research essays are extremely common assignments in high school, college, and graduate school, and are not unheard of in middle school. If you are a student, chances are you will sooner or later be faced with the task of researching a topic and writing a paper about it. Knowing how to efficiently and successfully do simple research, synthesize information, and clearly present it in essay form will save you many hours and a lot of frustration. If you are lucky enough to be able to choose your research topic, pick one that interests you. The last thing you want is to end up spending hours learning and writing about a subject in which you have zero interest.
You will find the whole process much more enjoyable if research essay actually care about what you are doing. Stick with topics that are not overly complicated, especially if the subject is not something you plan to continue studying. There’s no need to make things harder on yourself! Before you begin writing, read up on the subject of your essay.
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It is best to gather all your sources and review them before attempting to begin your paper so that you can have things clearly planned out when you actually start writing. You can find information on your topic of choice through a number of different types of resources. Articles in academic journals are written by experts in that field and scrutinized by other professionals to ensure their accuracy. While online wikis can be very helpful, they sometimes contain unverified information that you should probably not rely upon as your primary resources.
Experts can be professionals working in the field you are studying, professors with advanced degrees in the subject of interest, etc. When you are researching your topic, take notes on the information you find. Be sure to note where you found the information as you take notes so you can easily cite it as you write. If you are using books or physical copies of magazines or journals, use sticky tabs to mark pages or paragraphs where you found useful information. You might even want to number these tabs to correspond with numbers on your note sheet for easy reference. By keeping your notes brief and simple, you can make them easier to understand and reference while writing.
Don’t make your notes so long and detailed that they essentially copy what’s already written in your sources, as this won’t be helpful to you. Depending on the purpose of your research paper, you may find yourself needing to adopt a position or draw some conclusions about your topic. As you research the subject, ask yourself how the information you encounter fits in with the objective of your paper. If you have an objective in mind from the start, you can incorporate this into online searches about your topic in order to find the most relevant resources.
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