How to Write a Research Paper
What sets the research paper apart from other kinds of writing, such as essays, is that it is a report of findings from a search of published material about a particular topic. Sometimes called a term paper, this form of writing is often required in academic courses. For example, in a Survey of American Literature course, students are often asked to choose a particular American writer, search for information that has been published about that writer, and turn in the results in the form required by the teacher, English department, or even the college or university.
This does not release the students from writing a thesis statement for the research paper. For instance, if the paper is about Mark Twain, the paper will focus on some aspect of his work. An example: “Mark Twain established Regionalist Literature as a genre all its own.” “Mark Twain exemplifies the advice often given to writers to write what they know.” Just as in a persuasive essay, the research paper will support the point made in the thesis statement.
The manuals specifying what is acceptable in a paper are often called style sheets. They are also known as manuals of style. Your teacher will probably be very strict in the requirements set forth in the style manual. For example, where is the title of the paper and what is the form? Where does the writer’s name appear and where does the teacher’s name appear? The name of the course is usually required. The strictest of the requirements and the area where styles tend to vary most are in the “Sources Cited,” “Resources Consulted,” “Bibliography,” and “Notes.” The student must spend time and effort understanding the requirements of that particular style sheet.