The Way to Successful Research EssaysWednesday, May 12th, 2010
How to prepare your first research essay
This assignment is quite common in higher education… and quite a pain in the neck for many students. That is because not everyone knows the basic facts for writing an appropriate research paper. Note that the concept of the research essay is not as simple as it seems: at first, the student believes all they have to do is choose a topic, do some research on it and then, write the essay based on such a research. Bad news: it is not simple at all.
Choosing a topic and an essay question
It is much easier to star working on your research essay if the teacher provides you with a list of possible topics. But some others will only give their students a general guideline. Anyway, when choosing the topic, try to find a question you will be able to answer through research. Remember the basic fact about this kind of essay: it is not just writing a report on everything you have read about the topic, instead the main purpose is to answer a question or controversy related to the topic you are researching. Do not choose more than one essay question, since it will be very difficult for you to manage two or more at the same time in the very same research.
Organizing your paper
Once you get to write, remember you should always start your essay (as well as your essay plan, which you should prepare beforehand) with an introduction, in where you delimit your topic, establish your essay question and write about your research methodology. Once you have it ready, you may start the plan by writing subtitles. Another good idea at this stage of the task is planning is the bibliography. Search through every article and find appropriate quotations you may want to include in your essay.
Common mistakes in research essays
If you are about to send your first essay of this kind, you may want to proofread it in order to find out if you are making one of the most common mistakes, since so many students receive this kind of comments from their teachers and, therefore, find themselves very disappointed.
– No research question: you should not only choose a topic but a question you are trying to answer as well.
– Inadequate bibliography: when you quote from text books, summaries or articles not suitable for your topic.
– Too general: if you happen to choose an essay question such as “Which effects does globalization have on countries around the world” and then try to synthesize it in just 250 words.
– Plagiarism: if you copy textual phrases, whether from bibliography or from essay samples, without quoting the source properly.
– Too extended or too brief: when you don’t respect the required essay word count.
Remember that markers are always looking for a clearly-written essay, with well organized information. But, when it comes to research essays, the best marks go to original thesis (essay questions) that are showed thorough research and a solid academic writing style.