You have searched online for information about writing a research paper. In all likelihood, you ran across a long list of websites detailing the eight steps commonly accepted as the foundation of writing good papers. But there is more you need to know. A research paper that accomplishes its purpose must go beyond the mechanical nature of the eight steps. It must be written with intent.
Writing a Research Paper – The 4 Components of Intent
Research paper intent can be broken down into four components:
1. The Topic
Most of the websites detailing the eight steps for writing research papers start with choosing a topic. This first step is more important than most writers understand. Choosing a topic that has already been exhausted does not leave the writer much room to explore a different angle, take a different position, etc.
Given that research papers are intended to prove a point or offer an effective analysis, it pays to choose a topic that is somewhat unique. This gives the writer plenty of room to both research and write in a way that develops the topic from a unique point of view.
2. Writing Perspective
The perspective of a research paper must be determined right alongside the topic. Also known as the genre, perspective can either be argumentative or analytical. Here are the explanations of both:
- Argumentative – An argumentative research paper begins with a clear stating of the thesis and what the writer intends to prove. The remainder of the paper consists of the evidence necessary to convince readers that the stated thesis is true.
- Analytical – An analytical research paper presents the thesis as a question or proposition for which the writer takes no official position. The body of the paper then analyses the thesis from every conceivable angle, leaving readers to make up their own minds. It is acceptable to write an analytical research paper and still lean toward a particular position.
3. The Audience
Next is the audience being addressed. A research paper cannot be written with intent if the writer is not familiar with his or her audience. Writing a research paper without targeting a specific audience almost always leads to generalities that make it hard to prove the stated thesis.
4. The Eight Steps
Writing with intent does require knowing the eight steps previously mentioned. But this should come last. There is no point in making yourself intimately familiar with the steps until topic, writing perspective, and audience have been effectively dealt with. The first three components lay the groundwork; following the eight steps builds on that groundwork as research and writing move forward with intent.