Wednesday, April 05, 2006
Research Paper in 60 Minutes: Fast and Neat
This article is prepared by Anatasia Kurdina. Anastasia is a professional writer with immense experience in writing
for college. Her fantastic articles have already made hundreds writing experts! Read them now at Personal-Writer.com
Assignments are prepared best when they are given much time and attention, but sometimes time deficit and busy student life require a skill of writing papers very fast. If you know what I mean, this brief guide on writing research papers in emergency regime is for you.
One of the most useful ways of writing research papers of any type is to develop a draft outline of what you have to cover. Let’s assume your research paper deals with advertising, but this topic is too broad, you should narrow it to more specific subject. In this, I advise you to follow the rule of “inverted pyramid”, starting with broad overview of subject and narrowing your focus down to the pyramid’s head, where your specific topic is formulated. For instance, the topic of advertising can be narrowed down to “Advertising techniques of Absolut Company”. In your outline, make a list of general points you want to make and notes or references that can support those points. Your strongest point should be the last in your list.
It is important to gain idea about what your thesis will be. If you don’t have any vision yet, spend some time brainstorming and noting your thoughts. Still, it’s normal to start your research without thesis or to change the thesis in the course of your research: as you learn more, your ideas on the subject change.
When you have a thesis, make sure it is not a mere statement of fact, like “advertising is used to raise brand awareness and sell products to customers”. A good thesis should make a strong claim about something, in the way: “advertising is the most important element in Absolut differentiation and positioning strategy. In its turn, the company changed the meaning of advertising in entire liquor market”. Also, your thesis should not be too broad. For instance, such thesis as “The paper will discuss the effectiveness of radio, TV, and printed advertising and their role in the economy” is too broad for most papers and takes too much time to elaborate.
After you have done developing your draft outline and decided on your thesis, you have to “fill in the blanks”. On this stage, many students stumble since they are used to linear approach to research writing instead of shotgun one. If you are absolutely unfamiliar with your topic, a good method of starting your research is to read good encyclopedia article. This will give you overview of the subject and provide you with good ideas for further studying. Also, pay attention to structure of encyclopedia article. This may provide you with your own ideas as to organizing your presentation. After you gain insight into the topic, the process is easier. To act fast, use search engine to find related info or apply to source that provides you with comprehensive journal and magazine articles, such as Questia (www.questia.com), HighBeam of Google Scholar (http://scholar.google.com). Teachers value peer-reviewed articles and scholarly books, and therefore you should pay close attention to them to leave teachers satisfied. Encyclopedias and journal articles should be the first resources you apply to, but you are not advised to use encyclopedia article as the source of your work unless you are required. If you need current figures or specific facts that are extremely difficult to find, use a reliable website. After you collected all the information, you can find some interesting alternative opinions on the subject. Try to find opinions pro and contra discussed point, but don’t forget to site the resources you use. Every time you use a resource, you should refer to it and include it into your bibliography list. What is even more important, you should produce your own opinion on the subject and your own analysis of discussed topic. This is the moment where your paper acquires real academic value. Do not fear of being wrong, the most important thing required from you while you learn is ability to think and analyze, therefore any original analysis is valuable.
Writing is the final stage of your creative process. In writing a paper, constantly refer to your notes, your thesis, and outline.
Written paper should be structured according to standard pattern. Usually, it’s divided in three major blocks: introduction (where you will tell you audience what you are going to tell them), main body (here you will tell them – elaborate your thesis), and conclusion (tell the audience what you told them). That’s the simplest scheme you probably ever met!
In introduction you should start with broad overview of the topic of your research unless indicated otherwise in your assignment. This part should end with clear thesis statement unless required otherwise. This is very important for success of your paper. It is good to divide the main body – the review and discussion block, into several sections. Applying advertising at Absolut, these may include: theoretical overview of advertising in context of marketing communications, background and overview of Absolut Company, advertising mix of Absolut, and analysis of advertising trends in liquor industry. In conclusion, you sum up the main findings of your research and principal points.
After you have completed writing, put your paper aside for some time, refresh your mind, and come back to it a bit later to polish and revise your work. A good thing is to ask someone else to read your paper. He or she would produce fresh ideas and point to some mistakes you didn’t notice. Also, use spelling and grammar checking software, but make your own checking as well. Before you finish, ask yourself is there are flaws in the paper, check it on the following features: if it has transitions between different ideas, if it is choppy or disjointed, if it builds up ideas to the strongest point. Also, make sure that all parts of your paper support your thesis or refer to it. Ask yourself if you gave proper consideration to alternative viewpoints: comprehensive presentation is very important element of good research paper.
Approaching your research in this way, you will let the research process guide the direction of your future paper instead of trying to find relevant things that would match what you need. This approach is much faster and produces far better results for both beginners and those lacking time for writing assignments. As you master this algorithm, you can apply it to more complicated and serious projects.