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How to Write a Top-Grade Research Paper

Students dread sitting down long hours to research and write papers. However, the education system requires that students complete different term paper or research paper writing tasks as part of course requirements.

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The writing process is, therefore, inevitable. Besides, writing perfect papers will earn you a good GPA and equip you for the career world. Be prepared psychologically that before eventually graduating, you will most likely churn a bunch of research papers.

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There are conventions that guide writing of every type of paper. And ˜Good Lord of Grades’ let us agree that the entire process is intensive, especially if you have never done it before. Be easy though, we have your back!

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We know how professors/lecturers grade research papers, and we are here to help. Our ultimate guide on how to write a good research paper will transform you to a pro writer. Executing our tested and proven stepwise approach guarantees you a great grade.

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Let your research paper be used as a sample of the best research paper in class! Let us get started already.

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Why this step-by-step Writing Guide?

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In this comprehensive writing guide, we will walk you through the entire process of writing a kickass, effective, outstanding, and gradable research paper. After all, everybody is after the excellent grades for research papers.

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Our guide is dedicated to students who want to revamp their grades by learning how to write strong research papers. Luckily enough, we have a checklist to ensure that you have written a good paper.

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The article is also meant for professionals who seek to refresh their minds on how to write the best research papers. Mostly, this information benefits millions of people, both students, and professionals. Our delight is to see you prosper in high school, college, and university level academic writing.

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What is a research paper?

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Before learning how to write a research paper, let us delve into the definition of a research paper. Getting the research paper definition is another critical aspect in developing a good paper.

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Well, a research paper is simply a form of academic writing that succeeds through thorough and in-depth research by the author on a specific topic, analysis of data, and interpretation of the findings of the research.

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A research paper can be a term paper, a master’s level thesis, or a doctoral-level dissertation. A well-written research paper is meant to:

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  1. Provide a critical analysis of research findings in articles.
  2. Offer solutions to given problems.
  3. Expand the scope of research and recommend potential areas of research. Usually, this is from the identified research gap.

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  • Provide a critical analysis of research findings in articles.
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  • Offer solutions to given problems.
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  • Expand the scope of research and recommend potential areas of research. Usually, this is from the identified research gap.
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    Although writing a research paper can be intimidating, if you grasp the rigor and conventions of academia, it becomes as easy as licking ice cream. We know it contributes to quite a huge chunk of your final grade and your diligent professor cannot just give grade where there are no efforts.

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    8 Simple Steps in Writing an Excellent Research Paper

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    In the rubric, every student craves to write a paper that will earn him or her a distinction or excellent grade. Only a good research paper does such, and it takes mastery and patience.

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    Remember, a research paper is a scientific paper that has an introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. Besides, it must have an original, brief, and clear thesis of the research.

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    Within the body, every argument, claim, or stance has to be supported by facts and must connect to the thesis statement. So how then does one write a paper worth good grades?

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    Considering the different sections of a research paper, here are the specific steps required to write a top-grade research paper.

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    1. Read the Assignment prompt

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    One mistake students do from the onset is to fail to consider the prompts and rubric from class. However, being that we are professional research paper writers, we will always insist on either or both to give you customized writing services.

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    It is important to go through the research paper instructions religiously before you commence the research process. If you skip this step, unfortunately as many students do, you might end up with low grades on the papers you write.

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    Allocate the greatest time to going over the requirements of the assignment or homework. It sets you at the same level of understanding as your professor or teacher and is a great way to attain the full grades.

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    While reading, take notes or use color schemes to highlight the most important points of the assignment. Find out whether there are specific topics given for you to choose or you are to develop a topic you deem fit. In case of any issues, schedule appointments, call or email for clarification from your professor.

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    Here is a sample research paper prompt:

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    For this assignment, you will write a 1,200:1,500-word Research Paper that traces the evolution of one theme (such as an aspect of religion, society, class, childhood, etc.) over two consecutive literary periods (Neoclassical, Romantic, Victorian, and Modern) by focusing on a comparison of two works, one from each period. The author(s) and work(s) must be selected from those listed on the Course Schedule. Other works from the course may be mentioned, but they must not be the focus. Examine how this theme is treated differently in these two works and connect these observations to an argument about the period’s reaction to (or against) the previous period.

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    2. Choose the Best Research Topics

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    Writing a research paper can flow. Unfortunately, without choosing the best research paper topic, you can find the entire process repetitive, monotonous, and stressful.

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    Getting a great topic, like settling for the best business research topic for instance, you can set the tone and attitude from the word go. Besides, when you have the research topic ready, you cannot be bothered by how to start a research paper. It helps you build enthusiasm to put yourself in the research status.

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    When selecting a research paper topic, students can have problems developing concepts. It is critical to rake your mind and brainstorm about the research topic you want to use.

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    Even though the topic is contingent on the course you are pursuing, it is important to go for narrow topics.

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    Mostly, we recommend that you choose a narrow topic related to the subject of study. It should also be an interesting research topic and one that has information. Always consider the topic that you are passionate about.

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    A good approach is to list the research paper topics you have identified. Afterward, eliminate the ones you feel are not fit for your research paper. Hitherto, you should be able to narrow down to a specific research topic.

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    Therefore, to compose a good research paper, choose a topic that:

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  • Intrigues you the most;
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  • Aligns to the course work or readings;
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  • Has available literature or content;
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  • Is approved by the instructor/professor, and
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  • That you can write content without getting bored along the way.
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    3. Conduct Research for Your Research Paper

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    So, now that you have the topic, the next step is to research and get insights as well as evidence about it. Scholars generate millions of content published either online or offline. Depending on your choice you can either do offline or online research. the latter is preferable due to the availability of volumes upon volumes of information. 

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    How to Research for Your Research Paper

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    When researching for your paper, you are on an important fact-finding mission. Rubber only meets the road when there is a purpose. Yes, there is one here!

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     Here is where iron and iron sharpen each other. You can only ace your research papers through proper research. How do you research before writing your research paper? Here is a step-by-step procedure on how to conduct your research:

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    1. Utilize the Google Search Engine and find the topics and related background information. Google is always the starting point given its diversity of information. You are allowed to stock as many tabs as you can, provided you get relevant resources. Within Google you will find, Google Scholar, an online encyclopedia such as Britannica, educational blogs, past written research paper samples, and credible journal articles.
    2. Discard all the tabs that have non-credible sources such as Wikis, Wikipedia, Personal Blogs, and forums. Instead, use educational websites, government websites, peer-reviewed articles, company websites, and periodicals. Even though such websites are a great starting point for research, make them just that, but do not use them when writing your research paper.
    3. Use the university online library to access databases such as PubMed, EBSCO, ProQuest, JSTOR, and ScienceDirect. Any materials in the university database are credible and scholarly.
    4. Evaluate the sources from both sides (Google and databases) and sieve those that are not important and discard.
    5. Based on your knowledge of primary and secondary sources, divide your sources into each category, respectively.
    6. Draft an outline for your research paper and decide on the research paper format.

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  • Utilize the Google Search Engine and find the topics and related background information. Google is always the starting point given its diversity of information. You are allowed to stock as many tabs as you can, provided you get relevant resources. Within Google you will find, Google Scholar, an online encyclopedia such as Britannica, educational blogs, past written research paper samples, and credible journal articles.
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  • Discard all the tabs that have non-credible sources such as Wikis, Wikipedia, Personal Blogs, and forums. Instead, use educational websites, government websites, peer-reviewed articles, company websites, and periodicals. Even though such websites are a great starting point for research, make them just that, but do not use them when writing your research paper.
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  • Use the university online library to access databases such as PubMed, EBSCO, ProQuest, JSTOR, and ScienceDirect. Any materials in the university database are credible and scholarly.
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  • Evaluate the sources from both sides (Google and databases) and sieve those that are not important and discard.
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  • Based on your knowledge of primary and secondary sources, divide your sources into each category, respectively.
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  • Draft an outline for your research paper and decide on the research paper format.
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    Note: you can use Magazines such as the New York Times, Guardian, CNBC, Atlantic, etc when researching for a topic that is trending. Mostly, journalists have a way of going in-depth to get credible stories, but beware of fake news.

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    When gathering the sources to use in your research, you can organize the full bibliographic information including URLs, name of authors, title, publisher, journal, DOI number, page numbers, and date of publication, among others.

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    There are online websites such as Citefast or Citethisforme.com, or BibMe that can help you in organizing the sources and citing information as you write.

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    These resources can help you organize the bibliography, works cited, or reference pages for your Chicago, MLA, and APA/Harvard research papers, respectively.

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    Using Primary and Secondary Sources 

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    Primary sources are reliable given that they are based on first-hand research.

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    They include speeches, transcripts of interviews, official reports, movies, film encyclopedia, personal journals, legal documents, academic articles, e-books, books, surveys, government publications, and periodicals.

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    On the other hand, secondary sources are based on primary sources.

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    They include books, newspaper articles, reports, reviews, movie reviews, book reviews, and magazine articles, etc. Still stuck on how to write a research paper we can help. You can always access research paper examples in APA from our website.

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    Here are some hacks in finding credible/scholarly resources

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  • Use the library
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  • The internet
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  • Consult the writing center
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  • Hire a research assistant
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  • Reading list from the class
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    4. Make a Strong Thesis Statement for your Paper

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    Every great research paper writer understands the power of making a thesis statement. It helps provide a snippet of what to expect in the entire paper.

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    The introduction portion of any academic writing always features a thesis statement. The thesis statements are necessary in the introductory paragraphs of research papers.

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    A thesis statement comes in the last part of the opening paragraph. Moreover, it can be a sentence or two.

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    Developing a persuasive thesis statement shows your authority in academic writing.

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    It is important that you research your research paper topic to gain insights. The thesis is the main idea or the central point in the research paper. Besides, all the arguments in the research paper are based on the thesis. When writing a thesis statement, you should be open-minded, engage critical thinking and reasoning, and write a thesis statement that is comprehensive yet not bluff.

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    Since the research paper thesis statement is a declaration of your perspective, you should defend it through the entire research paper. Every topic statement, facts, and concluding sentence must trace back to the thesis.

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    The process comes after researching and internalizing the gist of the academic paper, and it hugely determines the scope of the research paper. It reflects the essence of the paper and needs to be clear, concise, and compelling.

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    Once an audience reads your thesis statement, they definitely engage with you as the writer. A professor hooked to your thesis statement is a satisfied one, and that means a good grade.

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    Avoid the archaic or fuzzy arguments for a thesis statement. Here is what your thesis should do:

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  • Answer the question that guides the entire paper;
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  • Take stance on an issue of interest or controversy;
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  • Inform your readers of what to expect when reading your paper; and
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  • Present the major claim that the audience might want to reason with or dispute.
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    A strong thesis works the magic of making your research writing process easier; our research paper helpers always attest to that.

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    5. Create a Structure/outline

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    A research paper outline is a blueprint or the skeleton that holds the entire paper.

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    When it reaches the point where you want to make a research paper outline, you must be keen not to leave out the important components of a research paper.

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    Here are some tips on how to make an outline.

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    How to Structure a Research Paper

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    An outline can help you properly organize and structure your research paper.

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    A good structure means a good research paper destined for the best grades. In academic writing, professionals always begin by outlining the research papers, term papers, or essays : it is a norm.

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    Before finally writing an outline, it is imperative that you have a great thesis for your paper. In this sense, you have two powerful tools to help you create the best research paper.

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    Mainly, the thesis gives you a snapshot of how your paper should look as it is the main idea of the paper.

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    It is best that you now write an outline. It has bothered many people how to write a research paper outline. However, the outline should encompass:

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  • The introduction.
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  • The topic sentences of your body paragraphs and the main ideas as well. (main issues, literature review, method, and findings & discussion)
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  • The conclusion of your research paper.
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    Research Paper Structure Explained

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    The introduction

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    Your research paper introduction should feature a thesis at the end. It is advisable to have a hooking opening line to attract and keep the readers.

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    Here is the anatomy of the introduction:

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  • Hook or attention grabber (statistic or fact)
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  • Background information of the issue under examination or the research topic
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  • Justification of the topic
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  • The scope of the research paper
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  • Thesis statement
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    The body

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    Typically, the body of your paper should not follow the classical essay body format. Instead, it should include subsections such as the Purpose of the study, methodology, findings, and discussion subsections.

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    Literature review

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    The literature review section presents the findings from the literature. As you research, you will identify the research gaps, theoretical frameworks/constructs, theories, and concepts. Usually, it is a standard practice to have peer-reviewed journal articles, textbooks, and scholarly publications as your sources.

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    Here is how to write a great literature review for your research paper:

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  • Be critical when discussing the theories. Make sure they connect to the thesis statement. Also, explain how the theories fit in the issue under research.
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  • Explore the relevance of using the theories in your research as used by previous authors.
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  • Give an overview of the empirical findings, methodology, gaps, and limitations of the previous studies.
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  • Cross compare the findings and perspectives by different researchers.
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  • Outline your perspective given the findings from your literature review.
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  • Select a method that best suits your research
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    The methodology

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    Although not in all research papers, if your paper requires the method section, this is where you address the methods, tools, procedures, participants, and the setting of your study.  Under this:

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  • State the research questions
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  • Describe your selected research design, approach, and data collection as well as analysis processes.
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  • Provide a rationale for choosing a specific research method.
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    The research findings and discussion

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    This subsection has the results and interpretation of research, respectively. The discussion should also connect the findings to the theoretical concepts/frameworks. Besides, the section must connect to the thesis. In this section:

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  • Describe the results of your research;
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  • Use visual data presentation such as tables, graphs, or charts to illustrate the findings;
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  • Connect the findings to the thesis statement;
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  • Based on the previous research, critically evaluate your findings;
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  • Explain the findings and their implications, and
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  • Indicate any limitation of your paper
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    The Conclusion and recommendations

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    Finally, the conclusion subsection summarizes the research paper. It is an essential segment albeit many students giving it little attention. It should be a summary of the major points including the findings, theoretical and professional relevance, and recommendations.

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    The conclusion:

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  • Should have a recap of the entire paper
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  • Restate the thesis, but in a paraphrased version;
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  • Connect the ideas in the research paper;
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  • Explain the implications of the research, and
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  • Offer room for future researchers based on your findings and limitations.
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    The infographic below elucidates what to include in a research paper outline.

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    Research paper outline

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    Research paper outline continued

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    Sample Research Paper Outline

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    Title: Examination of mental Health of Veterans

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    I. Abstract (Identify topic & discuss the purpose of the paper) (200 – 250 words)

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    II. Introduction

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    1. Statistics of veterans with mental health issues
    2. Background of mental health issues among veterans
    3. The importance of the topic
    4. Thesis statement

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  • Statistics of veterans with mental health issues
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  • Background of mental health issues among veterans
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  • The importance of the topic
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  • Thesis statement
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    III. History of the topic/problem

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    IV. Target population & how are they identified

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    1. Discuss the implementation process of
      policy(s) (include societies views of the problem thus warranting the need for the policy) :
    2. Include any theoretical frameworks used (research) or statistical findings of how the policy improved/did not improve the problem (THEN).

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  • Discuss the implementation process of
    policy(s) (include societies views of the problem thus warranting the need for the policy) :
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  • Include any theoretical frameworks used (research) or statistical findings of how the policy improved/did not improve the problem (THEN).
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    V. Current trends/issues (how are problems currently being addressed)

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    1. Include any theoretical
      frameworks used (research) or statistical findings of how the policy improved/did not improve
      the problem (NOW)

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  • Include any theoretical
    frameworks used (research) or statistical findings of how the policy improved/did not improve
    the problem (NOW)
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    VI. What are the available resources/services for this population?

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    1. What are the financial
    2. Implications for society because of funding/lack of funding for programs to address the topic/problem on a short term and long-term basis?

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  • What are the financial
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  • Implications for society because of funding/lack of funding for programs to address the topic/problem on a short term and long-term basis?
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    VII. Evaluation-Implications of all the above (I-VI) on:

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  • Social Work Practice
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  • Future policy development
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  • Future Social Work research (related to your selected topic/problem)
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    VIII. What did you learn (1 paragraph)

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    1. about the topic (what are your views now about this topic/problem)
    2. group project process

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  • about the topic (what are your views now about this topic/problem)
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  • group project process
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    IX. Conclusion

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  • Summary of the paper
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  • restatement of the thesis statement
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  • Final words to the audience
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    X. References – should have a MINIMUM of 10
    scholarly, peer reviewed journal articles IN ADDITION TO the use of CREDITABLE web-based resources

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    Note that not all research papers will have a literature review, methodology, and finding section. Some research papers are like long essays, say 7-15 pages. A good example is the sample presented in the outline above.

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    6. Organize Research Paper Resources

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    After the outline, you can now organize the materials or evidence you have gathers online. At least now, you are able to know what falls where.

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    You now have the thesis statement, the research topic, and it is only a matter of time for you to put rubber on the road.

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    It is imperative to analyze your research data and findings critically. Also, try to maintain objectivity such that every content within your research paper connects to the thesis.

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    Focus on credible scholarly sources and choose your topic sentences judiciously. At the same time, meticulously choose good transition words to knit together your content.

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    Organize all the opposing viewpoints if they support the thesis statement. At the same time, assess the accuracy and verify every information you deem fit to be incorporated into your write-up.

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    Use a checklist (provided later in this article) to sieve the best information, which will help you in the process of writing a research paper. If you must include a bibliography with your research paper, create a bibliography that meets the respective formatting style (APA, MLA, or Harvard).

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    Organize your digital bibliography and use it when planning what falls where in the research paper. Usually, we insist that writing a research paper as you cite eliminates the chances of plagiarism. In addition, it helps you maintain consistency of in-text citations, for instance when writing an APA or Chicago, MLA format research paper.

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    For this step, you can use note cards or sticky notes if you are not writing them on paper, which most students dread in the computer era.

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    7. Write the First Draft for your Paper

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    The hallmark of the research paper writing process begins by filling the outline bit by bit. The outline is like a blueprint, just like a plan to a house, and writing the research paper is akin to slowly building the house.

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    How to begin writing your research paper like a pro

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    So, are you wondering how to start a research paper or what to include in the conclusion? Well, you have to begin with the introduction first and here is what to include:

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  • The introductory paragraph should have a good hook (it could be a question, fact, anecdote, statistics, or controversial facts.
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  • Short sentences knit together using transitions
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  • A thesis statement
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  • Scope of the research paper
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  • Research question or hypothesis
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  • Should be 10% of the entire word count
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    The introduction of your paper will hugely determine your grade. Therefore, when writing any academic task, such as a research paper, the introduction must be a piece of work.

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    You should interest your reader by choosing a great grabber or hook. To do this, understand the research topic you have selected, the thesis statement, and the background of the problem.

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    The introduction of your paper should reveal the importance or rationale of the topic. You should also offer a good background to the issue to set the context of the paper. For instance, if you are exploring a societal issue such as discrimination, rape, crime, or mental health, make the reader understand your chosen area of focus.

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    Now that you have the steps for creating a winning introduction to your research paper, you have to move to the body paragraphs. 

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    How to create a good body paragraph

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    The body paragraphs combine to form different sections of the research paper.

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    The literature review should critically review the available literature on the topic that supports the problem statement or answer the research questions or hypotheses.

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    The research methodology encompasses the research methods used to obtain data including focus groups, secondary research, survey, interviews, experiments, questionnaires, or mixed research methods. Essentially, the research method chosen aligns with your philosophy as a researcher, the research question, and the methods used in previous related literature.

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    The results should have the results themselves reported as identified during research. There should also be an analysis section, where the researcher analyzes the findings based on the identified findings. A discussion should then follow, where the researcher expounds on the significance of the findings.

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    If you have any definitions, abbreviations, and novel concepts, be sure to enlist them in your paragraphs. Your primary and secondary sources should be cited if you get these essential components from them.

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    How to write a literature review for a research paper

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    Research is a cumulative process that encompasses different steps. As you research, you will have to borrow from available relevant literature to develop a body of knowledge.

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    The literature review is an essential subsection of a research paper. Mainly, it helps to identify the gaps in research, the limitations of previous studies, and the information concerning your chosen area of interest.

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    A comprehensive literature review sets the pace for the findings and results section of your paper. Besides, it also helps you to connect back to the thesis and make justifications where necessary.

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    Whether you are writing a literature review for a research proposal, a dissertation, thesis, or a term paper, they all take the same shape and approach.

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    Here are the steps involved in writing a literature review in a snapshot

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  • Search for the relevant literature based on your chosen topic.
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    Search for the relevant literature based on your chosen topic.

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    You can search using keywords related to your topic from journals and databases such as Google Scholar, JSTOR, EBSCO, Project Muse, EconLit, PsycINFO, CINAHAL, PubMed, Medline, or any other peer-reviewed journal.

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  • Evaluate each of the sources and select the most suitable.
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    Evaluate each of the sources and select the most suitable.

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    You can evaluate the suitability of a source by skimming through the abstract. Another criterion is to evaluate the date of publication. It is standard practice to use sources published within 5-7 years.

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  • Take notes and cite your selected sources