Like other kinds of writing, a research paper requires that you focus on a particular subject, develop a claim or thesis, and support your position with convincing evidence: background information, facts, statistics, description, and other people's evaluations and judgments. The evidence you present in a research paper, however, is more detailed than in an essay, and the sources must be cited in the text and documented at the end of the paper.In a sense, a research paper is like a scientific experiment. Your readers should be able to trace your whole experiment - to see what ideas and evidence you worked with, where you found them and how you used them in your paper. If readers have any questions about the information you've presented or the conclusions you've reached, they can start with your sources and recreate the "experiment" for themselves. If they want to investigate your subject further, your sources will guide their reading.

As you write the research paper, keep the following techniques in mind:

Using purpose, audience, and form as your guides for writing. Research is just a method of collecting and documenting ideas and evidence. Purpose, audience, and form should still direct your writing.

Finding the best that has been written or said about your subject. Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, discover what other people or writers already know or don't know, and then build on what they have learned.

Using sources to make your point. As you gather information, you may revise your thesis in light of what you learn, but don't let the tail wag the dog. Don't allow the information to control you or your paper.

Documenting your sources, both in the text and at the end of the paper. (Using ideas, information, or actual language from your sources without proper documentation is plagiarism.)

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