Successful Writing : Writing Research Paper

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The point of writing is discovery.

Research today is easier, more exciting and more rewarding than ever. With access to electronic encyclopedias, the Internet, and services like ProQuest and LexisNexis, you have an enormous world of information at your command. Not only is finding that information easier, but communicating with others about your research is also easier than ever - whether using email to ask experts questions, sitting in on electronic discussion lists or sending drafts out as attachments for others to review.

But researchers using the Web or other computerized sources can quickly find themselves overwhelmed by too much information, much of it dubious. So with more information come more responsibilities:

  • to sort carefully

  • to focus tightly

  • to evaluate critically

  • to credit your sources honestly

  • to create an effective report

  • We'll discuss these issues and more in this chapter.

    The general approach for writing research papers, whether for a course, a magazine, an employer or a client includes three basic steps.

    Those three basic steps are :

    1. Selecting a topic

  • Pick a good topic

  • Define your purpose

  • Identify your audience

  • Formulate a research question

  • 2. Researching your topic

  • Set up a general search strategy

  • Use primary and secondary sources

  • Do original research

  • Make a research outline for using the library and the Web

  • Find things out for yourself

  • Be open to serendipity

  • Take notes

  • Manage sources and quotations

  • Manage and evaluate electronic sources

  • 3. Writing your paper

  • Get started

  • Choose a plan of organization

  • Write a draft

  • Get responses

  • Finish your paper


    On the following pages is the final version of Artemisia Gentileschi : Artist against the Grain the research paper referred to throughout this page. It was originally written at the University of Texas for a women's studies course on women in Europe from 1400 to 1800. Since this paper was written, Gentileschi has received new critical attention, with a major exhibit opening in 2002 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

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