Writing a research essay requires you, as a student, to gather multiple sources and establish a context in which you can situate your thesis statement. This is generally considered a more complex piece of writing, one where you will develop your idea, build the researched context for the argument you are making, and structure the paper accordingly.
Writing a research essay requires reading and analytical skills. You have to contribute something to the academic dialogue by placing your unique idea within the context of existing academic research. You have to expound upon your skills and resources in academic research, apply your reasoning skills, closely review published work and write in such a way as to blend your work into the research of others.
The steps to completing the work involve:
- Selecting your topic
- Researching the topic
- Writing about your topic
The problem is that while this appears simple, students often struggle with a topic that is too general, or an improper use of sources, inadequate sources, or a lack of research question.
That said, selecting the topic means you have to brainstorm potential ideas, or take the broad idea provided to you by your teacher and narrow it down until it is just so narrow that you can really delve deeply into it. If your topic is too broad, it will be shallow and you will be able to say a great many things about the topic, but they will all be superficial in nature. The narrow topic, on the other hand, allows you to select one part of the topic and review it in depth. This affords you the opportunity to conduct additional analysis on the subject.
The essay requires a research question to follow. The research essay then allows you to answer a question related to your topic or address a controversy related to the topic. You can review research questions that you discover by researching sources related to your topic. You might find that there are multiple areas of controversy which require deeper investigation.
The structure of your paper must have the following three definite sections:
- The introduction is where you offer a brief background for your reader and where you state your research question. You must always state the research question in the introduction, and most students find it is best to do so in the last sentence of your introduction.
- The body is the main dish to your writing meal. It is good to break it down into the different, relevant headings relating to the different aspects of the topic you have selected. Ask yourself what issues you have to cover if you want to answer your research question. You may need to include a section in your body where you answer or refute the arguments made by an opposing author, or where you present your case for accuracy, or where you describe the controversy in an in-depth fashion.
- The conclusion is where you summarize the research in tandem with the answers you found to your original research question.
To conclude and complement this guide we invite you to check our 20 topics and a sample essay on quantitative policy analysis for a research essay along with 10 facts to back you up.
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