How to Write a University Research Paper: Understanding Standards and Formats

You went to a party last Saturday, woke up Sunday morning and called your best friend, Becky. The two of you gabbed about the party, swapping juicy details and saucy secrets. After hanging up, you went downstairs to join your family at the breakfast table. Met with questions about your Saturday night, you shared the modest tale of friends and board games—much different from the conversation you’d just had upstairs. Similarly to the way you presented your Saturday night, when writing a paper you must keep the audience in mind. The text message you send to a friend would certainly be different from your university research paper. Follow these guidelines for the appropriate standards and formats for a university research paper.

Structure

When writing a university research paper the structure of your essay is key. You must make sure to develop a well-organized paper that stays on point throughout the paper’s entirety, from introduction to conclusion. Creating an outline during your research process is great way to keep on point. As you gather research about your topic you will develop a thesis statement or main idea. Your outline will guide you through your thesis statement, to the body of your essay. The body of your essay will be broken up into paragraph form, dedicating at least one paragraph to each element of your thesis statement. Once you have fully supported your thesis statement, you will come to your conclusion. Your conclusion will overview the main idea of your paper, tying any loose ends and reiterating your message.

Content

The content of a university research paper will not be based on opinion. You will introduce the topic of the paper and your main points, then proceed to the body, supporting your thesis with only fact based content. Your university research paper will need to show thorough thought on the subject, and extensive research to support your unique perspective on the topic.

Citations

Citations separate a well-researched paper, from a plagiarized paper. Plagiarized papers present someone else’s ideas with no citations, implying this the information is personal opinion or research. Credit must be given where it is due in order to avoid plagiarism, and to create authority on the topic. Depending on the type of paper you are writing, you may need to use MLA or APA citations. Your professor will specify the format they prefer!

University research papers may seem daunting, but they are simple to put together if you set yourself up correctly. With an interesting topic, strong sources and a detailed outline creating your paper will be a breeze. Be mindful of your structure, content and citations while following your outline—you’ll be done before you know it!

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