Correct Research Paper Organization and Paragraphing

One of the major challenges new college students face is their first research paper. Many already consider themselves accomplished writers, and when it comes to short forms of writing they are quite frequently correct in this belief. However, research papers are a much longer form, and can present them with new difficulties when it comes to organization and paragraph structure.

When writing an essay, it is generally the case that each supporting point is confined to one paragraph. This is not often true when writing a research paper. Instead, students need to learn how to effectively divide their paper into sections and then organize the paragraphs within.

Sections in a Research Paper

Each supporting concept that ties back to your thesis should be given its own section. A section will consist of multiple paragraphs, or even multiple pages. Prior to beginning to write your rough draft, you need to ascertain what your sections will be, and in what order they should be arranged in the paper. There are different methods for arrangement, more or less suitable depending on topic type and writing style. You may wish to arrange your sections from general to specific, in chronological order, or using some other method. The important thing is to remain consistent and ensure that your strategy makes logical sense.

Paragraphs within Sections

You’ll need to then consider how the internal paragraphs of each section will be organized. The first paragraph should accomplish two things: tie the section to the thesis and provide a transition from the previous section. The concluding section of the paragraph should reinforce the tie to the thesis, while transitioning to the following section. Between these two paragraphs, you’ll need to expand on the section’s main idea. One way to organize these internal paragraphs is by subtopic, or by source—often the latter is an easier option when new to writing research papers. You can combine two sources which have roughly the same point to make in the same paragraph, but it’s usually not necessary. This allows you to fully expound on each of your supporting sources, without making your in text citations seem either cramped or scattered.

Thorough Outlining

The more thorough your outline, the simpler and faster the writing process will be, so don’t skimp on this stage. It may not seem as productive as writing, but it will definitely save you time in the long run.

Essay guides & manuals

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