How to Write a Successful College Research Paper

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Answered by: Patricia, An Expert in the Writing Quality Essays Category
In order to successfully complete a college research paper, one must select the topic. In some cases, topics may be supplied by the course professor. If not, then, the student must determine a topic most suited to the course subject for completion of the college research paper.

When selecting a topic for the research paper, consider the broadness or narrowness of the topic. One cannot choose such a broad topic that there would be too much information to cover. For example, a student might be taking a course in World History and studying the Age of Exploration. Selecting a topic for the college research paper such as Spanish Explorers would be too broad of a topic. A possible topic that could be considered too narrow would be The Sailors aboard the Pinta (one of the ships sailed by Christopher Columbus). A more suitable topic for research and discussion might be The Influence of the Spanish Royalty upon the Age of Exploration. This topic could be more readily covered in a ten to twenty page college research paper.



Once the topic has been decided, the student should visit the college library to determine if there are databases which the student may access to assist in the writing of the college research paper. Many colleges purchase databases which students may use for research in the library and, often, from their home computers, as well. The use of databases greatly facilitates the search for material to use in the paper. Certainly, research should not be restricted to only this source.

The college library may have books on the shelf which cover the selected topic, and these books may be found by using the library catalog. As well, there may be publications such as magazines and bound essay collections which cover the selected subject. Additionally, in writing the college research paper, a student should not solely use the internet for information. Certainly, the internet is a valuable source in finding material, but other sources such as those mentioned above should also be explored.



While doing research, the student must take notes. Notetaking is most effective when the student determines a method that will allow him/her to write down a sufficient but not excessive amount of words that supply the information from that particular source. When taking notes, the student must make notations as to the source of the material as the college research paper typically requires the inclusion of a bibliography. When the paper is assigned by the professor, the student is usually told which style of notation to use in the bibliography. It is necessary to have this information available in order to secure enough source information for the completed bibliography.

The notetaking process is necessary before the student begins to write. Ideally, the student will have enough notes before he/she begins to write in order that a skeletal draft of the college research paper can be written. This step is not the rough draft stage of the process, but, instead, it is the outline stage. While composing the outline, the student can determine the major headings of his/her college research paper.

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