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Research Paper Help: Avoiding Mistakes

If you’re new to the Research Paper writing frontier where student life meets prime and quality academia, you may be wary of a few potholes where your childlike innocence may tarnish the otherwise pristine information you are presenting. While this is likely not as large a problem as your brain makes it out to be, don’t go turning in your research paper without a proofread willy nilly. Here are a few tips to help you avoid the downfalls that researcher students generations prior to you were all too keen to fall into.

Grammar & Spelling are King.

There is a reason you learned how to spell and correctly write sentences in the second and third grades, and it’s because it is actually really important. Yes, maybe your professor or your professor’s TA says that it really isn’t all that important on In-Class papers as long as you don’t screw it up beyond recognition, but when you’re working on a Research Paper for which you’ve undoubtedly had weeks and weeks to prepare, there really shouldn’t be an excuse. Do you just hate reading your own writing? Some people hate reading their own writing because it’s awkward and bumbling and it makes them feel worse about themselves. While this is a completely normal and human reaction, succumbing to it is no way to improve yourself as a writer. If you really can’t stand it, have a friend read it for you. You can even pay a company online to read it for you if you don’t have any willing friends or family members.

Cite your sources correctly.

To a whiskey-chugging battle-hardened research paper veteran like the person most likely grading your paper, MLA, APA, or Chicago format and English grammar are cohorts of equal importance in the writing game. Sloppy citations or an ugly bibliography is just as bad as using “there” instead of “their” in your prose. For reference, you can always check in to the University of Purdue's Online Writing Lab.

Organize effectively.

If your organization is effective and without problem, there is no reason why your reader cannot develop a sense for your entire argument from just the table of contents. This means that you might have to rearrange your paragraphs after they are written, so it is more effective in the long-run to write your paragraphs initially as little capsules of information that will be able to be transposed and moved along each other in order to create an easily manipulated field of paragraphs. This way, when you’re in post-production, you can easily move your paragraphs around in order to have a more fluid and effectively organized paper. If you are the kind of person who absolutely needs transition words in your life, you can add them in when you are finalizing your paragraphs.

Argue something meaningful.

Ultimately, the best papers are meaningless to readers if the thesis they are trying to argue isn’t relevant or meaningful. Sometimes, theses are created by students as intentional non-sequiturs in order to make their argument form seem valid by comparison, as there is no longer a standard by which the argument can be compared. While this may work if the TA is grading your paper in a one time look-over fashion, it ultimately is a large risk and inherently decreases your paper’s versatility, relevance, and overall excellence. It is much smarter to argue something you personally care about, or something that you believe your readers will personally care about. That, accompanied with correct grammar and citations, is the building block of which good research papers are made.

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