A research paper is different from a research proposal (also known as a prospectus), although the writing process is similar. Research papers are intended to demonstrate a student’s academic knowledge of a subject.
You know, the one where you throw in every bit of interesting research you uncovered, including the fungal growth in the U-joint of your kitchen sink? Everything you learn may be fascinating, but not all of it is going to be relevant to your paper.
Although the research paper format is fairly standardized, writing guidelines may vary not only among academic institutions but also among individual professors. Pay attention to any how-to handouts you’ve received, and don’t forget to check your university’s writing lab for more resources.
After in-depth research, you can proceed to writing an outline. With all the notes and vital information that you gathered, start brainstorming where those certain topics fit in. To “brainstorm an outline” doesn’t mean that they have to be structured in sentences. Note down what part would be the beginning, middle and end. This is the part where your research paper starts to take shape.
Creating an outline is really about structuring your paper. Don’t be too formulaic, but it can be helpful to follow patterns and guides. In high school you might have written three- or five-paragraph essays, and it’s okay to use those same patterns for a college research paper, but be sure that whatever format you choose makes sense for your paper.