Seven Steps to Writing a University Research Thesis | Vancouver Island University

One of the cornerstones of the college experience is learning how to write a research paper – a written document that organizes and analyzes the information you have gathered to answer a question of your own or that of your professor. An academic research paper is a little different from your typical high school essay, so we asked John Hill, coordinator of VIU’s Writing Center, who has helped thousands of students learn how to write research papers. research, to break it down into steps.

Step One: Determine the Purpose of the Document

A research paper has an OBJECTIVE, and identifying that objective is key to guiding your work.

Step two: refine your research question

This focus is given by your RESEARCH QUESTION. What is the thing about your topic that you want to know that you don’t know? This question is very important because it will guide your research. This is why you are doing research. Sometimes your teacher will ask you this question. Sometimes you will need to generate one of your own. But your job is to answer them.

Step three: organize your approach

You will decide what types of information you need to answer this question. Think about how that fits together. This determines the ORGANIZATION of your paper. You may need to do a bit of background reading to get to this. And as you read, that structure may change as you learn more. You can use a mind map to generate these simple categories. They will form the basis of a series of paragraphs organized into a single subtopic (you can, however, have more than one paragraph on each subtopic, and you can group several related paragraphs together under subheadings). The subject of each paragraph will be identified by a clear subject sentence.

Step Four: Collect Information

You will search for this information using the LIBRARY ONLINE SEARCH TOOL. You can also use a general internet browser, but the library provides access to important documents, especially academic journals, which can hide behind paid walls if you search in Google. This huge resource is part of what your fees are buying for you, so use it! If your teacher needs peer-reviewed journal articles, this is the best way to go (the library search has a filter that you can use to select only those articles). READING this kind of material is a skill. The writers went through the kind of process you go through, so try to figure it out their purpose: what is their research question? What are the main elements of their paper, what is their argument? Watch their introduction; look at their conclusion. It has a structure: it’s not just a list of things….

Fifth step: assign the information

You will cite this material from your research as you go. That is, you will inform your reader where this information comes from. This answers the important question your readers will be asking, “How do you know?” Having a good answer to this question is what gives your paper credibility, so it’s good for you. It also helps your reader find this material if they are interested in it, so it’s good for them. AND it keeps you from being accused of plagiarism (passing off other people’s work as yours) which is good for all of us. There are conventional ways of doing this and they vary from department to department. The three most common are APA, MLA, and Chicago. You can search for that. A good source is The Owl in Purdue. They’re basically all pretty straightforward: there’s a minimal element in the text with the cited material (author, date) in APA – plus such a useful page, (author, page) in MLA, and just an exponent number in Chicago. . This leads you to a full reference entry (Who, when, what, where) at the end of your article (or in the case of Chicago, a numbered footnote at the bottom of the page – or an endnote. at the end of the document).

Step Six: Write Your Conclusion

After going through this process, you should be able to draw conclusions from the information you presented and explain how it answers your research question. It is the job of your, surprise, surprise, CONCLUSION.

Step seven: refine your thesis statement

It is an academic article convention that you then clearly and clearly state this argument, the position of your article, i.e. how he answers the research question, and drop it at the end of your intro. We call this your THESIS STATEMENT (the word “thesis” means argument ”). And it really helps your reader understand your article. And since your reader is the teacher who grades the paper, that really helps you too!

Bonus step: get help!

Oh, and the eighth step of course is to come to the Writing center (who currently runs their sessions online) and talk to me or one of the other tutors in the faculty. At the start of your process, it’s best, but come anytime. You can make an appointment via our online reservation system. We can go through all of these steps in more detail and then get into the details of your particular assignment. We are here to help!

John Hill is the VIU Writing Center Coordinator.

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