About the Blog

This blog and its resources are here to assist all students throughout their college years and into their careers. Blog is moderated by a Certified Professional Career Coach and Master Tutor Trainer. Site moderator, Neil O'Donnell, is an EOP graduate of Buffalo State College and can be reached at odonnenp@buffalostate.edu.

Tips for Fine-Tuning a Research Paper

Getting Ready to Submit a Paper

—  Before sending off a paper, there are some steps to take to make certain you are turning in the best paper possible.

—  The guidance on the next few pages will help you in that regard.



Thesis Statement

Does your thesis statement address the paper/assignment?

The thesis statement is critical, because it informs readers what the paper is about and the order evidence will be presented.  If you were supposed to discuss the reasons for the fall of Rome and your thesis statement focuses on the Rise of Julius Caesar, you’ve probably got some major rewriting to do.

Do the body paragraphs of your paper address the thesis and maintain the organization established?

 If your thesis is “Rome fell due to its monumental economic strains, being overwhelmed by invaders, and failure to efficiently manage natural resources,” then the 1st body paragraph should cover economic strains, the 2nd invaders, and, the 3rd, Rome’s failure to efficiently manage its natural resources.


Introductory Paragraph

 Is your introductory paragraph too long?

 If your introductory paragraph is over seven sentences long, there’s a good chance the thesis will get lost in the mix.  As a reader, I find long Introductory Paragraphs really make it hard to find the true Thesis of the paper.  While the body and/or conclusion of the paper may clarify the Thesis for a reader, you may lose critical points if a professor/grader finds the paper difficult to follow.

Where is your Thesis Statement placed in the introductory paragraph?

 I usually set my thesis statements as the last sentence in the Introductory Paragraph.  It doesn’t HAVE to be the last sentence.  However, I find, as a reader, that writers make it hard to identify/focus on the intended Thesis if it is not the last sentence.  Make sure the Thesis Statement is as clear as possible, regardless of where in the intro it is located.


Body Paragraphs



Do your body paragraphs maintain focus?

Make sure that you stay on topic.  Every Body paragraph should help in supporting your Thesis Statement!

Are your Body Paragraphs placed in the order set forth in your Thesis Statement?

If your thesis is “Rome fell due to its monumental economic strains, being overwhelmed by invaders, and failure to efficiently manage natural resources,” then the 1st body paragraph should cover economic strains, the 2nd invaders, and, the 3rd, Rome’s failure to efficiently manage its natural resources.



Conclusion

 Does your conclusion refer back to your Thesis and summarize the body of your paper?

If your thesis focuses on the “Fall of Rome,” then your conclusion should summarize your Thesis and evidence you presented.  Yes, adding some reflection on the implications ofRome’s Fall to contemporary nations is fine (or any similarly RELATED tangent).  However, don’t use the conclusion to describe how much you want to visit Roman ruins.



Grammar, Spelling, etc.



—  Do not use contractions

—  Do not use slang

—  Use appropriate pronouns

—  Use appropriate Tenses

—  Make sure commas were used correctly (when in doubt, leave commas out!)

—  Avoid the use of “I”

—  Run a “spell-check”

—  Make sure capital letters were used correctly (i.e. for proper names)

—  It’s (it is)

—  Its (possessive form for it – “The dog ate its food.”)

—  Their (The friends ate their food.)

—  There (Location – “It’s over there.”)

—  They’re (they are)


Citations

 Did you use the appropriate Citation style as required by your professor?

 There are several styles for including citations (MLA, APA,Chicago, etc).  If your professor REQUIRES a specific style, make certain you used it.  The updated formats for the various styles can be found on the internet or at the library.

Is a ‘REFERENCES CITED’ page included?

Not only check to make certain you included the REFERENCES CITED page, but also make sure it is formated/paginated correctly).


General Requirements/Advice

 Does your paper conform to professor’s requirements?

Your paper should be typed in the font/font size specified by your professor.  You should also follow your professor’s requirements for spacing, citation styles, and pagination.

If your professor did not specify any format requirements, ask if she/he has any preferences.  If your professor has not preference, I recommend the following:

    1) Times Roman, 12 Point Font, Double-spaced

    2) APA citation style for Natural and Social sciences, Chicago/Turabian Style   

        (footnotes) for History, and MLA for any other course


Was your paper received?

Check your email ‘SENT’ folder; make certain that you attached your paper to the email and that you sent the paper to the correct email address for your professor.


I’ve forgotten to attach many documents to emails; it happens.  Taking an additional second to check is not going to take much time or effort

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