Academic Research Paper Writing: the Basics

Your academic paper carries a heavy weight of your grade. It’s essential you know exactly what you are doing before you hand in a paper that could potentially drag down your final marks. There are several tips for writing research papers. Here are the most important.

  1. No plagiarism – Your research paper must contain no plagiarized content whatsoever. Not only will using copied content result in a big fat zero on your paper, it will also potentially get you expelled from school. Never take a chance on this; it’s not worth it! Make sure you use full and complete references. Never copy and paste any material. Everything must be in your own words.
  2. Proper formatting – your research paper must be presentable and conform to formatting standards as outline by your college or your teacher. It’s so easy to adhere to formatting requirements there should be no excuse to lose points because of bad formatting. Use the proper font and size. Make sure your header, footer and margins are all within guidelines.
  3. Use charts and tables – this makes a good impression in a research paper. It lets the reader see the data at a glance and it helps a lot when presenting numbers and statistics that support your main topic. Long academic papers made up of only pages and pages of words can get long and tedious to read. Graphical representations of data give the reader information at a glance and it shows your teacher you are proficient in writing research papers.
  4. Use recent data – your research paper should be supported with evidence that’s recent enough to be trustworthy. Statistics from 1905 aren’t going to make as big of an impression as statistics that are only a few years old. It’s not always possible to obtain data from the current year, and that’s understandable.
  5. Let your passion show – you really should put your heart into your writing, and the reader will be able to tell if you are interested and passionate (or not!) about what you wrote.
  6. Don’t go overboard – it’s important for teachers that students stay reasonably within the specified word count. If they have given 2500 words as a guideline then make sure you don’t hand in 5000! It may mean you need to refocus your topic to narrow it down.
  7. Proofread and revise – never skip this step. It could make the difference between a sloppy research paper and one that is stellar and fetches top grades. No matter how good you are at writing, there’s always room for polishing up and improving. Even the best writers know this is an essential step in writing. It’s most beneficial to get someone else to read and edit your work. You may not be able to see your own mistakes.

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