January 29, 2017
The senior seminar, English 102 research final, final thesis? Sound familiar? Well, these are just a few names given to one of the important papers that you will be asked to do on your road to your degree. You do not get to not choose to do them, everyone that is in line for a degree, no matter the type, will eventually be required to do a research paper.
Although it sounds like a paper that you do not look forward to, the research paper can be a fun way to dig into a subject that you plan to study or that you have had a voice about but have not had the chance to write about.
Making your paper one that is different is the key to a good grade. Irrespective of what kind of a classroom you are in — traditional or EdTech — there is a number of factors that characterize a well-written work. And if you are lucky to be a modern-class student, the process of assessment can turn out to be even more strict for you, though less-biased. So you'd better make use of all the modern technology you have available to dig deep into the subject.
As for traditional learners, your professors read hundreds of these papers a year, so how do you make your paper unique and stand out from the rest? How do you get that extra statement at the end of your paper that your professor writes telling how much they enjoyed reading your paper?
The main point of a senior paper is to piggy-back off existing research and arguments of published writers. Students must have a good idea of the subject they are going to write about. They should ask the following questions about the research:
Now that you have chosen your topic and you know what other scholars have written about it, you get the chance to write your own opinion.
Research is not just gleaning information and then pushing recycled information out there. It is critically thinking about the information that has been written and adding your input. Something new that your audience, your professors, have never heard before.
This makes adding your own theories that you identify with. This means taking what you think is more important and writing about that. For instance, are you interested in:
This may seem like a lot to absorb, but your input is what is going to make your research paper unique to your professor. He or she is looking for your voice as it pertains to the research.
Think critically about the existing scholarly debates and answer the following questions:
If you can answer these questions, you should be able to construct an original thesis. An original thesis leads to a unique paper.
If you are stuck remember to see your professor along the way. A research paper can be a daunting task and should be taken on as soon as you receive the assignment. It is not a paper you wait until the last minute to work on. If you start it early you must better result.
Start a study group. Help is always in the numbers. When you have a group of students helping one another on research projects, the risk is lowered that you will be working on the same topic. Good luck!