Print bookPrint book

Writing a Research Paper

Site: College of the Rockies - Online
Course: Sample Course - Learning How to Learn at College 2019-2020
Book: Writing a Research Paper
Printed by: Guest user
Date: Monday, 30 March 2020, 7:25 AM

First Things

Your paper begins when you first identify your topic.  When writing a persuasive or argumentative essay, you are presenting your ideas and opinions about your essay topic.

To begin:

  • identify your central topic (example: bicycle helmets)
  • identify your perspective and the context (example:  context is rider safety; perspective is bicycle helmets increase rider safety) - this is the basis for your thesis statement
  • identify possible sub-topics (example:  types of helmets; types of accidents; age of cyclists; experience of cyclists; type of bicycle activity - road riding; mountain biking; etc.)
  • determine which sub-topics you wish to include in your essay - this often depends on available research and what you want to emphasize
  • research each sub-topic and identify how it supports/contradicts your thesis statement
    • record citation information for each article, book, video, web page, etc. you find
    • organize your results by sub-topic
    • each sub-topic would provide the basis for one paragraph
  • write a topic sentence for each paragraph
  • write your paper integrating relevant information into the appropriate paragraph
  • write a concluding paragraph
  • compile your reference page
  • make use of the writing help available to review and revise

  

Resources to help develop your paper

General information on writing academic essays:
Templates to help you get organized:

Thesis Statement

A good thesis statement:

  • will tell the reader what you are arguing for/against
  • will hint at your reasons 
  • is the foundation upon which you will build your essay
  • will help keep your essay focused
  • usually answers a question (Is music piracy good/bad for the music industry?)
  • is usually debatable

Example:

Bicycle helmets are important safety gear in Canada.

(This statement clearly states that bicycle helmets are important safety gear but doesn’t tell the reader why or identify the key ideas to be discussed in the body of the essay.)

Bicycle helmets are important safety gear in Canada because they can save lives and government regulation should make their use mandatory.

(This statement also says that bicycle helmets are important safety gear but it adds the information that they save lives and recommends that government should make their usage mandatory – both ideas that can be developed and expanded in the body of the essay.)

 

Resources to help develop a strong thesis

 (all provide additional examples of thesis statements)

(3.43 minutes)
 

- 60second Recap® (4.30 minutes)

- InkwellMedia (3.39 minutes)

- Shmoop (5.04 minutes)

Introductory Paragraph

  • should grab the reader’s attention, so they want to read more
  • provides some general background information on the topic to be discussed
  • includes some brief information about the key points to be included in the thesis statement.  
  • end with your thesis statement

Resources to help develop a good introductory paragraph

  JamesESL English Lessons (21.21 minutes)

Topic Sentences

  • are usually the first sentence in a paragraph
  • help organize the paragraph by identifying the information to be covered in that paragraph.
  • connect the topic of a specific paragraph to the thesis statement

Example:  

It should be mandatory for everyone to where a bicycle helmet.   

(This sentence that clearly states that bicycle helmets are important, but doesn’t tell the reader why they are important or identify the key ideas to be discussed in the paragraph.)

Bicycle helmets should be mandatory because they have a vital role in improving road safety and accident survival rates.

(This sentence clearly states that helmets are important but also tells why, with the why relating back to the thesis statement.  The sentence also identifies two topics that can be expanded on in the body of the paper.)

   (13.03 minutes)

Resources to help develop a strong topic sentences

. IELTS Share (3.55 minutes)
  

.  Mastering the Fundamentals of College Reading & Writing (3.01 minutes)
 

RCBonayAtWork (3.48 minutes)

 

Body of Your Essay

  • explains and supports the thesis statement
  • includes multiple paragraphs, each with their own topic and concluding sentences
  • is where you present your evidence (examples: quotes, facts, statistics, examples, etc.)
Resources to help develop the body of your essay
Incorporating Quotations:
Words

Having the correct words will help when you are writing, so here are some links that may be useful.  Remember, check a dictionary if you aren't certain what a word means.

Wordiness

Having the correct words is good, but using too many is bad ... and can dilute your argument.

Concluding or Transition Sentences

  • summarizing the controlling idea in a paragraph 
  • link one paragraph to the next
  • may qualify the information
  • don’t repeat the topic sentence, but they re-enforce it and relate it to the topic of the following paragraph. 

Example:  

Therefore, the reason bicycle helmet should be mandatory is because of their vital role in improving road safety and accident survival rates.

(This sentence clearly restates the topic sentence, but does not give the reader any idea of what topic will be covered in the next paragraph.)

As seen, bicycle helmets have been proven to improve road safety and accident survival rates yet the number of people who actually wear bicycle helmets remains relatively low.

(This sentence reinforces the fact that bicycle helmets are important to road safety and accident survival rates; it also introduces the idea that the number of people who wear helmets is relatively low; the next paragraph in the essay would be about how many people actually wear bicycle helmets.)

Resources to help develop effective Concluding Sentences

IELTS Share (4.09 minutes)
 

  Time4Writing.com (1.59 minutes)
 

  Meg Mosier (10.04 minutes)
- thorough discussion with examples; highly recommended

Concluding Paragraph

  • provides your last chance to persuade your readers to your perspective
  • explains why the thesis was important
  • provide a sense of closure
  • convey a sense of the possibilities or provide a direction
  • leaves the reader with a sense of completeness and, depending on the topic of the essay, a desire to find out more

Resources to help develop effective Concluding Paragraphs