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Writing a Research Paper

Exploring the process of writing a research paper.

Writing Your Paper

Much like the research process, the process of writing is one that, if you wish to do it well, you must accept that it will probably take some time. Allotting ample time for writing will ensure that you have time to brainstorm, exploring all of the potential arguments you could make to support your thesis, as well as enough time to hone those arguments down to only the most salient points. In additional to that, it couldn't hurt to build in a little extra time in case you find yourself the victim of writer's block.

If you have formulated a well-developed outline, though, you are already ahead of the pack. Your outline will give you a framework for organizing your thoughts so that you aren't just striking out in the dark when you begin your writing. After you've developed your outline and proceed by asking yourself the following questions:

Who is your reader?

In most cases, your reader will probably be your instructor. However, you may want to challenge yourself by imagining how you would present your points to a wider audience. Imagine a dialogue between yourself and your perceived reader(s). What kinds of questions would they ask? How might they challenge your argument? Strengthen your argument by anticipating any potential weaknesses it may have and addressing them before they can undermine your reader's confidence in your assertions.

What is your purpose?

Of what are you trying to convince your audience? If you don't know how to answer this question, your reader will certainly not be able to guess your point. Make sure that you have a strong thesis statement and that it is well supported by the body of your paper. This includes addressing and successfully dispelling any potential counterpoints that someone could make to your argument.

What image do you want to project?

Where is your voice in this paper? Is it clear and confident, or is it merely reasserting the arguments of others in a relatively dispassionate manner? Again, if you are not speaking in an authoritative and informed voice, it is unlikely that your reader will be swayed by your arguments.

After you've considered the aforementioned questions, grant yourself the freedom to brainstorm and consider every angle of your argument. Write down all of your thoughts without judgement. Don't worry yourself immediately about grammar or spelling. After you've gotten everything down on paper, set your writing aside for a while. Let your mind rest on this subject so that you can come back to it tomorrow with a fresher perspective. With this renewed objectivity, you can begin to hone your argument, narrowing your focus.

Cures for Writer's Block

The following are just a few suggestions for avoiding, and overcoming, writer's block:

  • Make sure that you do your preliminary research and writing preparation, including outlining and brainstorming your topic - starting out without this framework can be extremely daunting.
  • When possible, choose a topic that genuinely interests you - doing so will make writing your paper much easier.
  • Discuss your topic with your instructor, a classmate, or even a friend in order to provide yourself with some clarity on what you would like to say.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to write. Start out with a very rough draft and polish your writing a little bit at a time.
  • Just start writing - even the expression of your most unformulated ideas will get your creative juices flowing.