Developing Your Research Writing ProcessOne of the most frustrating things to me, when I was starting my academic career, was determining what research to include in my writing. Not only would I spend so much time fretting over this, but I was never quite sure when to start my research or what to actually research. I would find myself writing a paper before doing any research at all, which almost always resulted in me having to rewrite large sections of the paper. It was not until I went to graduate school that I learned what it truly meant to do research writing and how this process can differ from other types of writing. Today, I’d like to share with you some of my top tips for working with research at each stage of your writing process.
Prewriting: Develop your Topic and Engage with the Existing Research As you begin your process, start with some prewriting activities. These preliminary steps will help you determine targeted, specific research that will be relevant to your project.
First, try a freewriting session. Often, if we begin our writing and research process by freewriting, we are able to more fully develop our ideas and research interests. Although this may not be thought of as part of the research process, freewriting will lead to more targeted and specific research as well as a deeper focus on your content. You can find more information to help you with this at the Writing Center’s page on prewriting.
Another preliminary step that will help you later is reading existing research pertaining to your topic. In reading current research on specific topics, you are able to find gaps in research, so you are able to more easily target your specific research topic. When you go to write your paper, you will already have your sources vetted and ready to include in your writing! Your friendly Walden University Library can be a huge help with this initial step.
Thesis Construction: Craft a Detailed and Specific Thesis that Focuses on the ResearchMany times we forget that a strong thesis allows the reader to fully understand the focus of the research. Much like the reader needing to understand this focus, the writer also needs to see the overall arch of the paper before it is completed. One of the best ways to ensure that your paper stays focused, and that the research you plan to use is addressed, is to have a clear and detailed thesis that will work with the topic sentences of your body paragraphs. The Writing Center website has lots of great information on thesis statements where you can learn more.
APA Integration: Adhere to APA Rules & Guidelines for Including ResearchAs it is with any type of writing, academic writing has some specific requirements that may take a few revisions to meet. Although the content and research included in your assignment are the most important aspects of your writing, the formatting and style of your writing are also important. In correctly referencing and citing your research, you will avoid intentional and unintentional plagiarism. You will also make your writing stronger and more accessible to your readers. You can practice this step by using our APA basics checklist.
Revision: Take Time to Revisit Your Research Writing ProcessEven though your initial draft and research methods are very important aspects of your final draft, most of your best work will come during the revision stage. After you have a completed draft of your work. it is much easier to make sure that you are providing the correct information in the correct places with relevant research to back it. This is also a perfect time to re-visit many of the different techniques you used in your drafting to ensure that you have fully developed your ideas and presented the best and most relevant research as possible. I recommend these resources about revision and self-editing to help you develop these skills.
In following these tips and tricks, you should be able to draft a detailed and research-driven essay while spending an appropriate amount of time drafting, revising, and researching. If you find these resources helpful, you can bookmark this page so that you can revisit it during your drafting and revision stages of future papers.
Meghan Barnes is an instructor and writer based in the South. She has two dogs, and a handful of composting worms that she enjoys feeding scraps to. When she is not writing, editing, or reading, she enjoys playing kickball, softball, and other active sports.
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