As I thought about the research paper I had to write, I knew I had to choose a topic that would interest and challenge me. This is because my attitude towards the topic was going to determine the amount of effort I put in my research work (J. Lester & D. Lester, 2009). I chose a topic, but I had to narrow it down to focus on a limited aspect, so that my teacher could approve it, before embarking the full-scale of my research.
My first move before writing was to find as much information about the topic I was focusing my attention on. So I searched the internet and read articles on my research paper topic. The Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC) was of great assistance to me, because I was able to find the relevant books from the library. As I gathered information it was important to jot down full bibliography information so that I would later retrieve it for the final paper (Ellison, 2010).
The next step for me to do was to state my thesis, and here I needed to do some critical thinking, for me to be able to state my thesis in one sentence, since it was like a declaration of my beliefs. I then made a tentative outline of all the points that were related to my major topic, listing them in capital Roman numeral. This helped me think through my topic carefully and organize it logically before I started writing. My outline included; introduction, body and conclusion.
The introduction stated my thesis and the purpose for the research work that I was doing. I explained how I planned to approach my topic and the major points that I planned to cover, so as to interest my reader with my topic.
The body is where I presented my arguments to support my thesis statement. I applied RULE of 3, that is, I sought three supporting argument for each position I undertook. I begun with a strong argument, then I used a much stronger argument and ended my argument with the strongest argument for my final point (J. Lester & D. Lester, 2009).
The conclusion was the final point of my outline. I therefore restated or reworded my thesis, to summarize all my arguments with an explanation of why I had reached my conclusion.
Organizing my notes and all the information I had gathered according to the outline was my next step, where I critically analyzed my researched data. I had to check the accuracy of my information, if it was factual, correct and up to date. I then grouped my notes following the outline codes that I had assigned to my notes, enabling me to quickly put all my resources in the right place.
I started to write my first draft, starting with the first topic in my outline, summarizing each idea I planned to use in my research paper. After I had finished writing the paper, I revised the outline and the draft for any errors, double checking the facts and figures that I may have used. I had to reread the assignment again to be sure that I understood what was expected of me, and that my research paper met the requirement of the lecturer. I also did proofread my paper carefully for spelling, punctuation and missing or duplicated words (Roberts, 2007).
I experienced some challenges when choosing the topic, I was a bit apprehensive that i might choose a topic that could have very narrow range of sources, or a subject that was too specialized or technical, and I could not manage it. As I was also trying to find the information for my thesis, I found a wide range of information, and it was difficult to choose the “wheat from chaff” and this took a lot of time to compile. That made me not finish the final paper on time, therefore I did not have enough time to triple check my work before handing it in for marking.
Lester, J & Lester, D. J. (2009). Writing Research Papers (Perfect). New York: Longman.
Ellison, C. (2010). McGraw-Hill's Concise Guide to Writing Research Papers (Perfect Phrases Series). London: McGraw-Hill
Roberts, E. (2007). Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing Compact (4th Edition). New York: Prentice Hall.