General Research Paper Tips


We have discussed many specific details about the paper thus far, but as you develop your rough draft, here are some general issues to consider:

- Avoid absolute statements, which are claims that can be refuted by one example to the contrary. These can also be called “blanket statements.” For instance, do not write “Students who cheat do so because they think teachers will not catch them.” Instead, you could say “Some students who choose to cheat…” or “Students who cheat may do so because…” This is called “qualifying” the statement.

- Keep quotations to a minimum and as brief as possible. Only quote material which you feel you must for a specific reason. (Harbrace discusses this in Chapter 32d ) And obviously, when you do paraphrase, be sure you do so adequately, as inadequate paraphrasing – intentional or not – is an example of one form of plagiarism.

- Do not use 2nd person pronouns (you or yours).

-Do not use contractions, as they are too informal for research.

- Preface statistics with their sources as well as dates to provide context and validation. An example would be this: According to the 2010 census, fewer people in the United States live on farms than ever before.

- Avoid clichés, such as “tried and true” or “clear as a bell”. Instead, be more specific and original with wording, and in the above examples, it would be better to substitute “proven” and “obvious.”

- When writing a persuasive paper and arguing against a concept or an idea, attack ideas, but do not attack people. Personal attacks can weaken the overall effect of an argument.