How to Write a Research Paper: Some Interesting Advice

It is often useful to construct any piece of topical writing by structuring the essay/article/research paper in outline form. The first order of business is research: online sources are often the most up-to-date. However, the sources are most useful when they are from educational or academic institutions, rather than activist organizations, which may harbor a clear (or not so clear) agenda.

A paper describing a method can be organized such that the paragraphs are arranged in the order in which actions are taken:

How To Follow a Recipe:

  1. Read the recipe through; this will put into mind the order in which tasks must be completed;
  2. Mise en place: organize your ingredients and make any preparations that are required prior to commencing the recipe, such as bringing butter to room temperature, or separating egg whites from yolks; this includes measuring spices!
  3. Take out any equipment required for completing the tasks, such as a stand mixer, or a large bowl and flexible spatula for folding egg whites, etc.
  4. However, if the essay is not about a method, but is, rather, a description of a noun (person, place, or thing), then it may make sense to organize the paragraphs according to scientific classification and/or senses:

What Is a Ball Python?

  1. What Kingdom-Phylum-Class-Genus does this species belong to?
  2. Where does it live?
  3. What does it look like? (How long is it in adulthood, and what is its typical girth?
  4. Is it a stealth hunter? Does it have an odor that can be sensed by prey, which means it must remain downwind while hunting?
  5. What sounds (if any) does it make?
  6. What is the texture of its scales?
  7. The subject can be a question to be answered, so that paragraph headings and/or subheadings can be the different lines of reasoning that follow from that question

The Avenues By Which People Lose Their Religious Faith?

  1. Some ask questions, either as children or adults, that are either ignored by their religious leaders or elders, or are not answered satisfactorily by them;
  2. Some become fascinated by science and/or engineering, and find that there are rational, natural reasons for why things exist as they do without resorting to the supernatural;

In all cases, it is of utmost importance to remain organized and clear. Concise is preferable to verbose. Fewer words, meaningfully used, trump floral speech, not only in “technical” writing, but in any factual essay.

In writing an editorial essay, it is the mind of the writer, which is the real subject, regardless of the vehicle it takes to get to its point. Although it may require a greater number of words to describe, brevity is still desirable:

Personal Preferences Can Be Difficult to Understand

  1. What are the patterns in our lives that create and define our personal comfort zones?
  2. How does their development begin in Childhood and change as one reaches and continues to develop during Adulthood?
  3. What patterns do we develop as adults that become as fixed in our “nature” as those behaviors instilled in Childhood, possibly by our parents, that persist?
  4. How do individuals come to develop their sense of place in the world?
  5. Why is it so difficult to break free of narrow-mindedness?
  6. How does one recognize one's own narrow-mindedness?
  7. How does one recognize one's assumptions as attitudes and not necessarily as facts?
  8. How does one guard against becoming a bigot?

In all writing, it is best to keep in mind the nature of humans, which makes the wish to read as few words as possible. Shorter nonfiction books often gain greater readership than long tomes. The reason for this is that most people prefer to be active, either mentally, intellectually, or physically. Writing factual essays and articles ought to aid in the meaningful gaining of knowledge. And in the case of writing editorials, one must utilize clarity and brevity to avoid boring the reader, thereby losing them.

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