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Unformatted text preview: WRITING A RESEARCH PAPER In between the choosing of a topic and the final typing of the last revision lie a series of skills, which, if learned thoroughly, might well be the most important and most permanent academic possession, acquired in four years of college. Specifically, you need to learn how to: delve deeply into a topic, find and select raw data, reflect, speculate, and mediate upon implications and relationships, glimpse and follow insights, establish logical categories, organize an outline, think and write with clarity and precision, and revise. Steps in Writing a Research Paper 1. Choose your subject 2. Narrow your subject 3. Provide a focus for narrowing material 4. Find references and select bibliography 5. Gather notes 6. Categorize notes 7. Decide upon an approach and point of view to gain control over your material 8. Draw up a detailed outline 9. Write a detailed outline 10. Make a clear copy 11. Leave for a day 12. Edit your work-go over your paper four times 13. First, reposition paragraphs and sentences 14. Second, add and delete material to achieve balance and to advance the stated objective of your paper 15. Third, look to insert transitional words and phrases 16. Fourth, read the paper aloud 17. Make a copy 18. Know rules for using quotations 19. Know rules for using footnotes 20. Know how to make a bibliography Choosing Your Subject Choose a subject that interests you. The outstanding American expert on Tibet spends half of her time in Washington as advisor to governmental agencies, yet she has never traveled beyond the boundaries of the United States. When asked how she became so well versed on Tibet, she answered, "I'm simply fascinated by the subject, and have read everything I could get my hands on”. A research paper, then, is an opportunity to further your interest in some subject or area. Narrowing Your Subject The most common criticism of research papers is, "your topic is too broad." You may well wonder, "Well, how can I be sure that I have sufficiently narrowed my topic?" A Cornell English professor has this sure-fire method: put your subject through three significant narrowings, i.e., moving from one category to a class within a category, each time. For example, here are some sample narrowings for papers of 10 to 12 pages: a) Public opinion polls: accuracy of polls: the accuracy of such polls in national elections: factors that determine the accuracy of public opinion polls in national elections....
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This note was uploaded on 08/24/2010 for the course ENGL 220 taught by Professor Rogers during the Winter '08 term at Yale.
- Winter '08