How to Create a Strong Research Paper: A Guide for Middle School Students

When a middle school student first begins the research paper process, he or she has a lot of writing rules to remember. And if the child has to write an APA and a MLA paper at different times, then there are even more things to remember. Use this guide as this very important foundation is built.

Step to Remember

  • Pick a good topic with lots of facts
  • Have 2-4 main ideas
  • Use academic and credible research
  • Read the teacher instructions and follow the teacher instructions
  • Bookmark an APA and a MLA website for easy reference
  • Learn the difference between a reference page, a works cited, and a bibliography
  • Go to any extra help given
  • Learn how to do an in-text citation, know the APA and the MLA way
  • Write in third person

There are different tips for different styles of papers. You have to know what style your teacher wants. For example, an informative essay is composed much differently than a cause and effect paper. Know your types and ask questions if you are not sure what to do. The layout of the paper matters, too. So follow these formatting tips:

Formatting Tips

  • Use size 12 font
  • Use a plain font such as Times New Roman or Arial
  • Double space
  • Write using a formal tone
  • Use correct spelling
  • Use correct grammar
  • Do not use slang or contractions
  • Have the length that the teacher required for the paper
  • Use the right number and type of sources the teacher asked for such as magazines, interviews, videos, and studies
  • Your teacher will want some or all of these items to be submitted
  • A rough draft
  • A final draft
  • Some type of reference sheet
  • A possible electronic submission
  • A working outline
  • Hard copies of all the sources you used and a link to them if they are online
  • Supplemental hard copies of materials such as an interview transcript

One of the best ways to create a successful middle school paper is to pick a topic that you like if the teacher gives you the option of selecting your own topic. You will always write a better paper on a subject that you enjoy and have an interest in. Do yourself a favor and pick a topic you love.

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  • A Step-By-Step Guide On How To Write A Research Paper

How To Write A Research Paper

A research paper is an academic paper where scientists, scholars, and even students present their research on a specific topic. It compromises analyzing the results of experimental evidence with citations. This is one of the most powerful ways to share the knowledge of researchers around the world.

The research paper shows the expertise of the researcher that also helps other researchers in the future. So, have you wondered how to write a research paper successfully? Well, this article will give you an ultimate guide on writing a research paper step-by-step. Let’s reveal the hacks.

The Steps to Writing a Research Paper

  • Get familiar with the research paper
  • Choose a suitable topic
  • Do your research
  • Form a thesis statement
  • Construct an outline
  • Write the draft
  • Add proper citations and references
  • Revise the copy and finalize it

After knowing the key steps of research paper writing, let’s discuss them in detail.

Step 1: Get Familiar With The Research Paper

The first thing you need to do it read several research papers that have been published by experts.  This will get you familiarized with the style and format of the research paper. This will help you get an overall idea about the contents of the research paper. The more you read, the deeper your idea will be.

While reading different research papers, note down the important things like formatting, spacing, font, length of a paragraph, rules to adding figures or charts, word limit, essential points to cover, citations, and so on. If you have any doubts, clarify them with your teacher or professor.

Step 2: Choose A Suitable Topic

After getting an overall idea about the research paper, now figure out a good topic that you will work with. To do it, consult with your professor and experts in the field you are interested to research in. You can either work on a new topic or improve any preexisting research.

The previously peer reviewed and published research papers are found in the-

  • Central library of your college or university
  • Google Scholar
  • Online publications like Zotero, Academic journals, Scientific Research Publications, Science and Education Publishing, etc.
  • Your professor’s recommended research papers

Study a lot to find out a unique topic in your field to research. Your instructor may help you to pick a trendy topic for your research. But try to reveal it on your own.

Step 3: Do Your Research

When you get a topic, start your research sincerely. Read several related research papers and inspect how the researchers did these. You may work in the lab or software to get more precise results from the research. Also, consult with the experts on this topic to get more precise answers. Clarify your doubts by asking yourself why, how, what, … etc, in every step for deep research.

You’ll find lots of resources on your topic but not all of them are reliable to use in the research paper. For example, Wikipedia is an open source resource for any topic, but you can’t accredit them in your research paper. Find out worthwhile sources before using any scientific formula or theory in your research.

Learned advanced search functions on Google also assist you in refining your search results to find specilized resources in your area paper’s area of focus.

After the preliminary research, if you find this topic good for you proceed with it otherwise choose a new topic that suits you. Note down all the important analyses, and calculations of your research.

Step 4: Form A Thesis Statement

After doing primary research, it’s time to make a thesis statement (introduction) that summarizes succinctly what you’ll cover in your research paper. This statement is important and helps you to make a good research paper. It also states how other researchers will get benefitted from your research.

If you can’t make a good statement starts with a question like ‘Does the internet bad for your children’ and then answer it. But don’t put any fluff words there. Sometimes arguable topic makes the thesis statement interesting.

When your teacher or instructor will say the thesis statement is okay then plan how to prepare the other sections of the research paper.

Step 5: Construct An Outline

When you’ve completed your research, now form a format for your research paper. The necessary sections of the research paper include-

  • Acknowledgments
  • Author Page
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Figures
  • List of Tables
  • Abbreviation/Keywords
  • Introduction (Thesis Statement)
  • Main Points of the Body (like Forming a Formula, Analysis, Calculation, etc.)

Each main points or headings include paragraphs, figures, charts, data, and so on.

Step 6: Write The Draft

Now start writing a draft copy of your research paper that you’ve gotten from your research. Keep in mind, you may need to write several drafts to finalize the copy. While writing the research paper describe all the points and avoid jargon and unnecessary things.

Consider the right spacing, font, and style of writing the research paper after completing the writing. Include proper headings and subheadings so anyone can understand easily what you may discuss there.

Step 7: Add Proper Citations and References

After compiling the draft copy, add the necessary citations and references to the research paper from which sources you use the scientific formulas. While quoting any points or formulas, include the publication name, year of publication, research paper title, author, page number, etc.

Usually, an academic research paper has two formats for citing;

  • APA (American Psychological Association)
  • MLA (Modern Language Association)

A Step-By-Step Guide On How To Write A Research Paper

Step 8: Revise The Copy And Finalize It

After making a draft copy, now recheck the whole writing several times to make it to the point and mistake-free. So, revise the formula, analysis, explanations, etc. If you find any wrong, edit it instantly. Also, check the following things-

  • Review the format of the research paper. If any correction is needed, do it.
  • Check the grammatical errors using Grammarly, or other similar tools.
  • To make the copy unique and plagiarism free check it using plagiarism checker tools like Copyscape, Quetex, Grammerly, Smallseotools, or any other reliable tools.

To make the research paper better, take suggestions from your professor or mentor so you can submit an original academic research paper. If he/she gives some changes to improve its quality, do it. When you are confident everything is polished and okay, submit it for your instructor’s approval.

Congratulations on learning the hacks for writing the research paper step by step.

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How to Teach Middle School Students to Write Research Papers

Related articles, step-by-step explanation of how to write a research paper for elementary students, the types of outlining for writing research papers, how to write a college critical thinking essay.

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Middle school students are in the unique position of transitioning from writing simple, elementary-level pieces to fully developed essays. That said, the research paper is the most complex form of academic writing, and you'll need to walk them through the entire writing process. You should also stress how important it is that they treat writing as a process, so they understand that prewriting and revision are just as crucial as writing their actual drafts.

The Assignment

The first thing you must do is explain the mode of the essay and all its accompanying rules and procedures. Each student will use evidence to support a specific claim, which is known as a thesis. Also detail the parameters of the assignment: the expected length of the paper, its due date -- including due dates for outlines, first drafts, etc. -- as well as how many outside sources each student will have to cite. Then, discuss the format for the essay, which will probably be MLA format. If possible, distribute printouts that contain all of this information in a neat and organized manner. You can even include a sample paper for later reference.

Prewriting Procedures

Spend at least half the time allotted for the paper on prewriting. Begin with lessons on brainstorming and determining whether students' theses will work for the assignment. Then, move on to conducting research. Explain the differences between primary resources and secondary resources, and how your students can use each to strengthen their essays. Teach them how to use note cards to organize and order their information to best present their arguments. Once their ideas are in place, walk them through the process of outlining. Stress to them that outlines are blueprints for essays, and that a strong outline can reduce stress while drafting and editing.

The Drafting Process

As soon as the students have solid outlines, have them begin their first drafts. Encourage them to stick strictly to their outlines, and to focus on transitioning smoothly from each topic of discussion to the next. Once they've completed first drafts, have students work in groups to read and critique the structure of each others' arguments. Have each student make notes about what was confusing about each essay, and also what he or she found compelling. Have them evaluate introductions, bodies and conclusions. Students can then compile feedback from their peers and see if there are any consistent difficulties with the readings.

Editing and Revision

This final stage provides opportunities for collaborative learning and group work. Once students have made any structural changes to their essays, you can place them again into groups and have them proofread each others' papers. This is also the time when you want to revisit the lesson on formatting: MLA headings, citations and bibliography pages. You can even incorporate a short citation exercise to give them a slight break from the assignment. Assign very short pieces about topics of their choosing. The only requirement is they must use an outside source for the information and cite it properly both in the text and at the end of the piece.

  • Common Core State Standards Initiative: English Language Arts Standards: Writing: Grade 7

Christopher Cascio is a memoirist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and literature from Southampton Arts at Stony Brook Southampton, and a Bachelor of Arts in English with an emphasis in the rhetoric of fiction from Pennsylvania State University. His literary work has appeared in "The Southampton Review," "Feathertale," "Kalliope" and "The Rose and Thorn Journal."

5 Step Writing Process for Kids

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Simple Guideline On How To Write A Research Paper For Middle School

As a middle school student writing a research paper there are a few key things you need to know. You need to pick a topic that suits your paper requirements. If you are writing a paper for an English class, you may not be able to get away with writing on the topic of economics, unless otherwise approves by your teacher. The topic you pick must be precise. You won't get very far if you pick a large topic for a small paper.

For example, writing a history research paper on the effects of slavery on the southern states is far too broad a topic, especially for a research paper that is between two and five pages. Instead, narrow down your topic to something a bit more manageable.

After you have your topic, you should follow these rules for writing the research paper:

  • The first is writing a thesis statement. The thesis explains what your paper is about and what problem you are trying to answer. You want the thesis statement to be the last sentence of your introduction.
  • The introduction is the first paragraph which gives the reader background. So if your topic relates to slavery then your introduction might include a sentence about what slavery was in America and how long it lasted.
  • After the introduction you want the body of the research paper. The body should be three to five paragraphs based on your requirements. Each paragraph should have a specific point made followed by evidence to back up the point. That means you need to find three points to support your thesis statement. If, for example, your thesis is that cell phones should not be permitted in classrooms, each paragraph in your body should explain one point why not with evidence to back it up.
  • And speaking of evidence, what is it really? Evidence is data or facts or quotes from professionals that you include to support your statement. If you claim that teenagers cheat with their cell phones in class, you should find a quote or statistic related to the number of students who cheat.

Once you are done you need to conclude your paper with the concluding paragraph. This paragraph is where you mention your thesis statement again in a different way and mention your main reasons again. By using these tips you will be well on your way to completing a great research paper for whichever class you are in.

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Write a Winning Research Report

Keep big assignments from becoming overwhelming..

Let's face it: writing a research report can feel like wrestling a big, hairy monster into 5 pages with footnotes. But if you make and follow a plan from the beginning, you'll write a paper to make yourself proud.

Divide your time

As tempting as it may seem to dive right in and start writing (so you can get it done) a good research paper starts before you start crafting stellar sentences. First, you'll need to  brainstorm a topic , then move on to  researching .

To keep yourself from getting totally overwhelmed, you'll need to make time for each step. On the day your paper is assigned, use a calendar to plan backwards from the day it's due.

Divide your time into mini assignments, print the calendar, and hang it someplace you'll see it often. Use your judgment based on the assignment and how you do your best work, but a good rough estimate for how to divide up your time is:

10% Brainstorming 25% Researching and taking notes 20% Making an outline 25% Writing 15% Revising and polishing

So, if you have a month to write a paper, you might spend about 3 days brainstorming, a full week each for researching and writing, and 5 to 6 days each on your outline and revision.

Make an outline

An outline is a roadmap to keep you from getting lost when you start to write. It's where you organize the questions you'll answer and the information and subtopics you'll cover in your paper. It's a tool to help you, not another assignment to check off the list. There are lots of ways to make an outline and it makes sense to try out different versions to see what works for you. Here are some examples:

  • Term Paper Terrence  likes to spend lots of time on his outline to make it really specific, down to noting what quotes he'll use where. Terrence finds the more detail he puts into the outline, the easier the paper is to write. For his paper on Sally Ride, the first American woman in outer space, his outline includes a note to discuss the specifics of what she did on her first mission — used the mechanical arm she designed to capture and deploy satellites, completed over 40 experiments — and to follow the specifics with a quote from Ride saying that what she remembers most about her first flight "is that it was fun." Terrence's outline is so detailed that writing the paper is almost like filling in the blanks.
  • Research Project Rachel  feels differently about outlines. She looks through her research and makes a list of broad subtopics she'll cover. For her paper on rhinoceri (you know, more than one rhinoceros) she'll list things like: where they live and what they like to eat — mostly vegetables, they're vegetarians — but she generally doesn't break it down into smaller details. Rachel likes to structure her paper as she writes and revises. She looks back at what she has as she goes and decides on what to write about next. She often changes the structure of earlier parts based on what she's writing later on. Compared to Terrence, she spends a lot more time writing and revising, but not nearly as much on the outline itself.

Write your intro… for now

Once you've got your topic, research, and outline in hand, it's time to start writing. In your introduction, sometimes called your thesis statement or lead paragraph, you'll outline exactly what someone reading this paper can expect to learn from it. It's a tantalizing look at all the neat stuff the reader can look forward to finding out about.

Don't worry about getting the first sentences absolutely perfect on your first try. Sometimes it's better to keep writing and adjust later. Your introduction will usually be between one and three paragraphs long and will act almost like a summary of the topics to come.

Give each paragraph the meaning it deserves

Every paragraph tells a story, or at least it should. There should be a point to it, a piece of information you're explaining. Often the first sentence of the paragraph will serve as a bridge or link from the previous paragraph and as an introduction to what the new paragraph is about. The next few sentences will provide examples or information to back up the first sentence.

You have time specifically put aside for revision, but as you write do keep in mind that every sentence should have a reason for being and that reason is to support the paragraph as a whole. Likewise, every paragraph should have information that helps give meaning to the topic. Extra words and ideas are sure to sneak in there and clutter up your writing. It's your job to keep those words and sentences out of your paper. There's a fine balance between providing enough explanation and examples and making your paper unclear with extra words and thoughts.

Wrap it all up in the end

A good conclusion is related to a good introduction. They're like cousins, not entirely the same, but with many of the same qualities. At the end of the paper, you're wrapping up all your ideas and reminding the reader of what he learned. There usually isn't new information; it's more about revisiting the big ideas. A conclusion is often just a paragraph long or it might be two or three. Imagine saying to your reader, "As you can see from reading my paper…" The rest of that statement is the end of your paper.

Revision is your friend

Here's a secret: writing is hard, but revising effectively might be even harder. But it's worth the effort because this is the step that takes your okay, pretty good paper and transforms it into an assignment that really shines.

Revision or editing is not    the same as re-writing the whole thing from scratch. You're not starting from square one here and you most likely don't need to scrap everything. What you are doing is taking a close and careful look at each word, sentence, and paragraph to make sure you've made the best choices. Here are some questions to ask yourself as you revise:

  • Is everything spelled correctly?
  • Are there any extra words, sentences, or paragraphs that don't add to the paper and should be deleted?
  • Are all the ideas explained with description or examples so they'd make sense to someone who doesn't know anything about the topic?
  • Do the ideas build so that by the end of the paper, the reader understands more than at the beginning?
  • Does the paper deliver what it promises in the introduction and conclusion? Does it make a point?

Often revising works best if you take it in two or three passes rather than one big editing session. You're working to balance your paper, so you'll probably make changes at the end that will affect the beginning and vice versa.

It's very helpful to have someone else read your work to check if anything is unclear, confusing, or in need of better explanation. Ask a classmate, a friend, or a parent to mark places that could use improvement. Even the best professional writers benefit from using editors — and you can too.

Record your sources

Your assignment will probably instruct you on how to record and present all the sources you used for information:

  • Endnotes  are found within the body of the paper. They include the author and page numbers in parentheses to show where you got your information.
  • Footnotes  give similar information to endnotes, but they are placed at the bottom of the page, usually in a smaller typeface.
  • A  bibliography  is a list of all the books, articles, and Web sites you used for information. It's sometimes paired with endnotes or footnotes, or it can stand alone.

Recording and using sources responsibly will prevent you from  plagiarizing  — a serious offense whether intentional or by accident. When in doubt, record a source rather than leaving it out.

Follow through on the final details

When it's time to hand in your assignment, make sure you have a clean copy that hasn't been crushed in your backpack or stained by yesterday's lunch. Include a title page with your name and the date. You've already done the work, so why not make it look as good as it can?

Now, take a moment to pat yourself on the back. Writing a good research paper is a huge deal and you deserve to feel proud for a job well done.

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Students will use scaffolding to research and organize information for writing a research paper. A research paper scaffold provides students with clear support for writing expository papers that include a question (problem), literature review, analysis, methodology for original research, results, conclusion, and references. Students examine informational text, use an inquiry-based approach, and practice genre-specific strategies for expository writing. Depending on the goals of the assignment, students may work collaboratively or as individuals. A student-written paper about color psychology provides an authentic model of a scaffold and the corresponding finished paper. The research paper scaffold is designed to be completed during seven or eight sessions over the course of four to six weeks.

Featured Resources

  • Research Paper Scaffold : This handout guides students in researching and organizing the information they need for writing their research paper.
  • Inquiry on the Internet: Evaluating Web Pages for a Class Collection : Students use Internet search engines and Web analysis checklists to evaluate online resources then write annotations that explain how and why the resources will be valuable to the class.

From Theory to Practice

  • Research paper scaffolding provides a temporary linguistic tool to assist students as they organize their expository writing. Scaffolding assists students in moving to levels of language performance they might be unable to obtain without this support.
  • An instructional scaffold essentially changes the role of the teacher from that of giver of knowledge to leader in inquiry. This relationship encourages creative intelligence on the part of both teacher and student, which in turn may broaden the notion of literacy so as to include more learning styles.
  • An instructional scaffold is useful for expository writing because of its basis in problem solving, ownership, appropriateness, support, collaboration, and internalization. It allows students to start where they are comfortable, and provides a genre-based structure for organizing creative ideas.
  • In order for students to take ownership of knowledge, they must learn to rework raw information, use details and facts, and write.
  • Teaching writing should involve direct, explicit comprehension instruction, effective instructional principles embedded in content, motivation and self-directed learning, and text-based collaborative learning to improve middle school and high school literacy.

Common Core Standards

This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.

State Standards

This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.

NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts

  • 1. Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works.
  • 2. Students read a wide range of literature from many periods in many genres to build an understanding of the many dimensions (e.g., philosophical, ethical, aesthetic) of human experience.
  • 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
  • 4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
  • 5. Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.
  • 6. Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.
  • 7. Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and nonprint texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience.
  • 8. Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.
  • 12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

Materials and Technology

Computers with Internet access and printing capability

  • Research Paper Scaffold
  • Example Research Paper Scaffold
  • Example Student Research Paper
  • Internet Citation Checklist
  • Research Paper Scoring Rubric
  • Permission Form (optional)


Student objectives.

Students will

  • Formulate a clear thesis that conveys a perspective on the subject of their research
  • Practice research skills, including evaluation of sources, paraphrasing and summarizing relevant information, and citation of sources used
  • Logically group and sequence ideas in expository writing
  • Organize and display information on charts, maps, and graphs

Session 1: Research Question

You should approve students’ final research questions before Session 2. You may also wish to send home the Permission Form with students, to make parents aware of their child’s research topic and the project due dates.

Session 2: Literature Review—Search

Prior to this session, you may want to introduce or review Internet search techniques using the lesson Inquiry on the Internet: Evaluating Web Pages for a Class Collection . You may also wish to consult with the school librarian regarding subscription databases designed specifically for student research, which may be available through the school or public library. Using these types of resources will help to ensure that students find relevant and appropriate information. Using Internet search engines such as Google can be overwhelming to beginning researchers.

Session 3: Literature Review—Notes

Students need to bring their articles to this session. For large classes, have students highlight relevant information (as described below) and submit the articles for assessment before beginning the session.

Checking Literature Review entries on the same day is best practice, as it gives both you and the student time to plan and address any problems before proceeding. Note that in the finished product this literature review section will be about six paragraphs, so students need to gather enough facts to fit this format.

Session 4: Analysis

Session 5: original research.

Students should design some form of original research appropriate to their topics, but they do not necessarily have to conduct the experiments or surveys they propose. Depending on the appropriateness of the original research proposals, the time involved, and the resources available, you may prefer to omit the actual research or use it as an extension activity.

Session 6: Results (optional)

Session 7: conclusion, session 8: references and writing final draft, student assessment / reflections.

  • Observe students’ participation in the initial stages of the Research Paper Scaffold and promptly address any errors or misconceptions about the research process.
  • Observe students and provide feedback as they complete each section of the Research Paper Scaffold.
  • Provide a safe environment where students will want to take risks in exploring ideas. During collaborative work, offer feedback and guidance to those who need encouragement or require assistance in learning cooperation and tolerance.
  • Involve students in using the Research Paper Scoring Rubric for final evaluation of the research paper. Go over this rubric during Session 8, before they write their final drafts.
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term paper writing tips

Tips For Writing A Research Paper In Middle School

A research paper is a critical academic task that you will complete during your school and college years. Typically, students write such paper when the promote to colleges and universities while school life only includes essays of different sizes and types. If your teacher requires you to write a research paper in your middle school, then they are preparing you for the future and the challenges you have to face. The most important thing you need to do in order to complete a winning paper is to understand the purpose and focus of the assignment. A comprehensive piece of work discusses and explores a particular topic in detail and shows the larger significance of the work to your audience. In order to complete a winning paper for your middle school, consider using the following tips

Tips you should follow for writing a great research paper in middle school

  • Choosing a topic for your work

The topic of your paper should be something you are interested from your heart. The subject you choose for your assignment should not be very broad and you need to break it down to easy categories and sub divisions so that you can create a winning assignment. It is important for you to create a flow chart or roadmap of your subject so that you can identify different categories under the given subject. Choose the category that you like the most depending upon your preferences and ideas. It is better to select that topic which you already have information about

  • Planning your paper

The research paper is not something that you can complete without an effective plan. You should be able to create a proper plan by seeing the total scope of your work and calculating the time, you have for this paper. You should set realistic and achievable milestones so that you can complete them and stay motivated to write the rest of the paper

  • Following a proper methodology

It is crucial that you devise a research methodology for your paper because you need to carry out directed search and stay on the right track

  • Do not preach invalid ideas

Do not introduce or include ideas in your paper as long as you do not have their authentication and validity

  • Creating an outline for your paper

This will help you staying organized and follow an order

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