How to Write a Research Paper
Whether you’re writing a short story, research paper, or assignment at some point in your education, you will likely be faced with the challenge of being creative in your writing.
However, you relate to it, creative writing can be an enjoyable, rewarding craft. But that doesn’t mean it always comes easy. Whether creative writing falls outside of your comfort zone, or you aren’t sure how to get started, or you’re just working through a nasty case of writer’s block, there are plenty of things you can do to improve your craft.
1. Be Well-Read
One would hope that in a research paper creative or otherwise, the fact that it should be based on knowledge would be obvious. But you’ll be wrong to assume that’s what happens.
For your research paper to be well written you need to read up. Being a generally well-read person aids your writing.
And don’t limit yourself to one style or medium. Spend time with contemporary short stories and poetry; look into plot-driven horror, character-driven pieces, “the masters,” and rising contemporary authors; explore journals, magazines, and blogs. Find out what you enjoy and learn what people are writing and publishing right now.
2. Do your Research
Do not adopt the mindset of pursuing an esoteric or incredibly complicated topic that might impress your professor, but does not really interest you. This can be dangerous. Rather, choose a topic that is of some interest to you. You may have background knowledge of a topic due to the fact that it falls under one of your major courses, but this does not mean you shouldn’t conduct a research on the topic before the actual research. The deeper your research depths, the easier the journey becomes for you. Do not be afraid of incorporating the perspectives of other writers into your work. This will give your paper a strong background. As you investigate facts to support your arguments, bring in opposing views and researches as well. This will ensure you get better grades because it means that you have an in-depth understanding of the subject.
3. Develop a Unique Voice
Ok, when it’s time to get creative with writing a research paper, it’s easy to start sounding like famous authors you admire. But that’s a very bad idea. You have to find your unique Voice and stick to it.
4. The Routine is your friend
As with any craft, success requires discipline. Just the way your research paper requires you to be disciplined, creative research writing, especially story-based papers requires a routine that works for you.
If you want to write, you can’t wait for the mood to strike you, or for a muse to float into your dreams. You need to work. Find a routine that suits you, mark it in your daily schedule, and get it done. This can be hard at first, but the more you do it, the more your momentum builds, and the easier it becomes.
5. Don’t miss up Mystery with Obscurity
Don’t get caught in the trap of thinking that just because something is difficult to understand, it will create an air of mystery that will draw the reader in. This is rarely true. Don’t sacrifice clarity for cleverness. People generally don’t enjoy reading things that are obscure, whether this effect was achieved on purpose or accidentally. Resist the urge to be complicated for the sake of being complicated.
6. Know your Audience
All writing is for someone, research papers included especially creative research papers. Good chance that if your paper is great, it’s going to be published and it will be read by more than just fellow researchers but also the average joe.
You need to keep this in mind when writing. Really consider the question: who is your audience? How can you expect them to handle certain narrative decisions, plot devices, or characters? What is their goal in reading your piece? What is your goal in speaking to the audience? If you don’t have a readily defined audience, make one up and work from there.
7. Practice the craft
Writing is a skill, and like any skill, you have to practice it constantly if you want to be any good at it. This doesn’t; mean, however, that you should just keep dumping words into your computer day in day out and expect to grow. You need to practice with focus.
8. Reach out to others
Language is characteristically social. Don’t be an academic hermit. Meet others who are writers or who are interested in writing (especially if their interests are similar to yours). Discuss your projects, their projects, what you’ve been reading, and where you’ve been submitting. Share your work and your feedback with other writers, and hone your skills in an environment of healthy competition. Reach out to amateurs and professionals. The more people you know and interact with, the more you will grow, and the more opportunities you will encounter. Just like any other field, networking is a key to success.
9. Workshop it
To meet your reader’s expectations, consider them as you write. One way to do this is to imagine a reader in front of you as you write. Use words that evoke curiosity, echo the issue, and justify your argument. Your first write-up does not have to make sense, don’t try to pour out everything you know in one sitting. Instead, focus more on quality than quantity. Take note not to copy and quote everything you find on the internet in your paper in an attempt to attain perfection in your first write-up.
10. Revise. Revise. Revise.
You will need to make large-scale changes, check and recheck the logic behind every statement.
Ensure that all your ideas are fully developed! And all your claims, recommendations, suggestions are credible and supported by well-reviewed and documented evidence.
After the initial proofreading, the next task on your plate is editing. Lookout for:
- Incomplete sentences
- Dangling modifiers
- Easily confused words (such as to, too, and two)
- Spelling mistakes
- Apostrophes for possessives and plurals
- Quotation rules obeyed
- Comma use
- Are you done? Congratulations!!!
Now go back to rereading your paper; a good idea is to read your research paper backward. It will get you a bit disoriented but will allow you to catch more mistakes.
Now, if possible, get another person’s perspective. Give it to a professional proofreader, editor, friend, or family member, ask them to provide feedback and suggestion. You don’t necessarily need to take their opinions but seeing the research paper from their eyes will allow you to know if the information you wanted to pass across was passed across.
Finally, a good idea would be to print your paper and proofread it on paper, as this will allow you to find last minute errors, mistakes, typos, and ensure your research paper is fantastic.
All of the tips above are established approaches for developing as a writer. Though, if you really want to improve as a creative writer, whether you are interested in fiction, poetry, or non-fiction, you need to study it.