Writing is the key to your success in college and at a job. You should not just think of writing as a chore, but a process to convey your thoughts, ideas and visions. Before you even pick up a pen or sit at a keyboard you should try and develop a voice for your paper.
The First Steps For Your Research Paper
When developing your topic for your essay or research paper you should start with the end in mind. I am not saying that you should have preconceived conclusions of what the research will show, but how your conclusions will effect the rest of the paper.
Remember the most important aspect of a quality research paper is the research. If you quote unreliable resources or "quacks" no one will take your paper seriously. The next thing is to make sure your paper is organized and grammatically correct. To be properly organized it is best to start off with an outline. The outline should include your introduction, your subtopics and your conclusion. The introduction will include your thesis statement and lay out what the rest of the paper is about. Your subtopics will include your research that leads to your conclusion. Finally, the conclusion is a summary of your findings and an interpretation of the material in the body of the paper.
The Rough Draft
The next step is putting together a rough draft. Do not worry about style or grammar at this point but it is time to consider your audience. Your goal at this point is to get your information on paper. The rough draft will show if your thoughts and ideas are complete. It may be necessary to do some additional research for your paper at this time. As well as consider the terminology you are using and the appropriateness for your reader. Any ideas that seem incomplete need to be expanded upon.
The Working Copy
Now it is time is to create a working copy. All your ideas, thoughts and research should be complete at this time. You write the working copy as if you are going to present it or turn it in. It needs to be in the correct style, APA, MLA, Chicago, etc. The grammar and spelling should be readable. You will rewrite sentences for clarity at this point and make sure none of your ideas can be misinterpreted.
Your Research Paper Final Draft
To go from a working copy to a final draft requires outside help. You need an expert in the field, or at least someone in your intended audience to read for content. This person should challenge your ideas and conclusions. They must also understand what you meant to say. This will lead to a more cohesive research paper. The second person is a proofreader and an English Major can be of assistance here. They need to proof the paper for grammar, spelling and style.