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Surviving the College Research Paper
College can be stressful as it is with classes, studying, and more but what tests students to the breaking-point even more than the heavy workload is when time rolls around for the ever-dreaded research paper. Since it counts for the majority of the class grade, it is essential that you master the art of writing this type of paper. Of course this is why this giant assignment is responsible for the booming coffee and energy-drink industries as well as the highest cause of stress among students of all ages. But fear not! You can indeed conquer this seemingly-impossible feat with a good plan of action and willing, ready mind.
First, you will need to choose your topic, depending on your class and your instructor’s rules and guidelines. Let’s say we use the example of “The Affects of Marketing on Children” for the purpose of this article to instruct. This topic would be most-appropriate for a business, psychology, child development, marketing, or English class research paper. *Note that this an example used for the educational purpose of teaching how to write a research paper and you should not use the wording from this piece or subject matter as your own as this is a means of plagiarism, and is illegal.* As with any research topic, you need to have your paper in MLA format. This is not only required but it will impress your professors if you pull it off correctly. This means you will have a header which will include your last name and the page number as well as a left-aligned section on your first page with the information as follows:
The Class Name
Day Month Year
Then, you will have your title one line below that, centered on the page. Also, make sure to double-space the text below the header.
Now, it’s time to start researching! In order to successfully pull off any research paper you will need to thoroughly research your topic. Of course, one of the easiest ways to do this is to search the internet. However, it is very challenging to find reliable sources due to the myriad of blogs, comments, and articles posted by the general public and non-professionals. Make sure you find sites which feature doctors or individuals with college degrees who have written a specific article exclusively for the website which provides you with succinct information which will benefit your paper. Some great reliable sites are The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and any credible news network website (CNN, NBC, ABC, FOX, and more). Also, be sure to find information using other types of resources such as books, journals, television news stories, and, a big bonus perk with your teachers, an interview, proving you went really out of your way to gain insight into your topic.
Also, to save yourself time make sure you write down the name of the article, the author, and any other necessary information you need for the works cited at the end of your paper. This works cited page will be in alphabetical order. Even though you may not use all of the information you find you need to keep track of the sources you collect so you don’t waste extra time going back to find those same sources you used. Make sure you pay close attention to writing your works cited page because you need to make sure you include every comma, period, capitalized letter, and quotation mark, especially if your paper is for an English class, because the failure to document correctly will often result in marking off 1-point per error, a huge knock to your grade if you’re carless with editing.
Now, it’s time to start writing! But, where do you start? With so much information it is befuddling where to begin amidst the laundry list of facts. First, you need to write your introductory paragraph. Begin with something eye-catching or an absurd fact that you found such as:
“Every year marketers spend close to $20 billion dollars on advertising products to the American public.”
Of course, remember this has to be true. Then continue with a few more facts or figures like:
“This is a huge increase from the $8 billion spent in 1992.”
Also, never ever use the word “you” in your research paper. This will make your paper seem amateur not as professional.
Write a few more introductory facts, including some poignant quotes, and finish your introductory paragraph by including a sentence that lists what your body paragraphs will focus on such as:
“The harmful affects of marketing towards youth is based on how marketers know what to target, how children interpret marketing messages, and how the child reacts as he/she grows older.”
You will typically have three body paragraphs for your average paper but occasionally longer for more in-depth research projects. Make sure each body paragraph is concrete and completely focuses around the topic for each such as “how marketers know what to target”. It’s easy to veer off in other directions so make sure you’re not going onto other topics within the same paragraph.
Finish writing your other paragraphs covering the wide range of facts, figures, and personal examples. Also, throw in a plethora of quotes, astonishing facts, and unique tidbits that will make your paper special and standout from your classmates’.
Your closing paragraph will be the easiest part of your paper because it basically restates everything you’ve covered up to that point. It will summarize the most important facts and information while bringing your paper to a close. Your last few sentences should make your teacher go “aha” and really contemplate your words. Make it unforgettable. An example would be:
“So, that commercial on TV is more than just an advertisement. It’s a multi-billion dollar investment and heavily researched plan of attack used to alter a child’s way of thinking into becoming the mind of a passive consumer (Woodard 4).”
Hopefully, these tips and techniques will assist you in writing an A+ 100% research paper in any class you take. Just remember to research thoroughly, take lots of notes, and you’ll be sure to have the best paper in your class.