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Useful Tricks on How to Write a Research Paper

Writing a research paper is time consuming but if you break it down into each of the major components it can be done much faster than you might think.

One of the main components to a thorough research paper is the literature review. This section is placed right after the abstract and precedes the body of your content. It is one of the five major components to any research paper no matter the field and even if it is not a requirement it might bode well to include it. While writing the review ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What does this piece contribute to the topic? What problems or concepts within the discipline or field does the article or book engage with?
  2. What types of material is presented in the work? Does the author use primary documents or a mixture of secondary material? Does the author include historical accounts, personal observation, a literary analysis, or quantitative data?
  3. How much of the material in the article or book is used to argue the thesis?

  4. *Note that you can quote a specific passage or summarize it in order to answer this question, passages that showcase the characteristics of the presentation such as the writing style and the tone.

  5. Are there any alternative arguments? Does the author cover the opposing arguments? Does the author state whether they agree or disagree with these arguments?
  6. Does the work raise any theoretical issues or topics that should be further discussed?
  7. What were your reactions to the opinions within the work?

Browse through scholarly reviews to get a sense for how the literature review functions within your field. Read over journals within your discipline to see how other authors have evaluated work. Some reviews will summarize the contents of an article or book and then evaluate it while other reviews will integrate the two functions and comment on the piece throughout, only relying on the summary as an example. As the writer it is up to you to pick whichever method is most suitable for your assignment.

To ensure you keep your focus, it is important to remind yourself that the purpose of the review is to discuss the manner in which the article or book treated the topic, not the actual topic. Your key topic sentences would be better structured to say things such as “this article shows...” or “the author argues...” in lieu of “This happened...”

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