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Research Essay

Updated: Mar 18, 2016
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The Research Essay assignment at the college level is a bit different than the kind of research papers given in high school. They are much more extensive and advanced, and do more than merely provide an overview of something through research findings; they are, rather, analytical, academic and investigative in nature, as opposed to having the student just provide a general overview of a subject – like the life of Margaret Thatcher, the Treaty of Paris, a fragmented timeline of World War II.


Unlike high school research papers, the college Research Essay requires the student to find then incorporate information into an essay of considerable length (most professors require the use of library catalogues, periodical indexes, bibliographies, primary and secondary sources, journals, books and other published documents, etc.). The Research Essay has the student-writer evaluating and analyzing this information to develop their reasoning skills, their critical-thinking skills and their research skills, which will be crucial for them to have in the working world. It also helps them thoroughly learn about a specific subject, issue, person or topic. Of course writing a research essay takes time for practice, if you're busy - ask our writers for help!


Most times, one’s professor will want a Research Essay to make an argument, or at least maintain some kind of interesting theme. In this case, the essay should a thesis and evidence to support the argument they are making. This develops and demonstrates their ability to recognize what constitutes an argument and how one is best defended, something that is also held in much high regard in the working world.


Steps to Writing the College Research Paper


1) CHOOSE A TOPIC: The student must choose a topic that is, most importantly, interesting to them, and one they can handle and expound on without great difficulty. A student shouldn’t be writing on something that is above their heads, something they know little about.


2) DO THE RESEARCH: The library is the ideal place to conduct research. There, the student-writer will find an array of sources that are pertinent to the topic they are researching and attempting to learn more about. Some sources provide the student-writer a general understanding of a topic, while other sources pinpoint certain issues that pertain and better explain the relevance of a subject or topic. Then, once they find their sources, the student-writer must take ample notes while also documenting where they found this information.


3) DEVELOP A THESIS: The Thesis is the argument the student-writer is asserting and defending in their Research Essay. This must emerge as a result of what the research has indicated, and is most times narrowed and sculpted by their research.


4) MAKE AN OUTLINE AND WRITE THE FIRST DRAFT: The student-writer should then take all their gathered material and make an outline that develops and defends their essay’s Thesis, which is the case or argument they are making in their Research Essay. From this outline, the student-writer will write the first draft using the pertinent information found in the research that supports the main argument their Research Paper is making.


5) REVISE, EDIT, THEN SUBMIT FOR A GRADED EVALUATION: Once they have written their essay, the student-writer must REVISE as necessary as possible; also, if it is needed, they should narrow the thesis if research has lent a change in perspective or understanding of the topic, or perhaps even an entirely new argument. Document all sources of information used in the Research Paper; this will be used later to write the bibliography or work cited page so that the student-writer avoids plagiarism. Using revisions from the first draft, they should then write the final draft and proofread before submitting to one’s professor or instructor. 


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