- Academic Research and Writing Tips / Tutorial

Common Problems in Writing a Custom Research Paper

The teacher starts reading the research paper and immediately notices the thesis is not clear and several words are clearly misspelled, she frowns as she shakes her head. This student probably put the research paper together at the last moment. She slowly marks a "D" across the paper. There are several common mistakes made in research papers that can be avoided with a little work from the students. Errors on a research paper will probably reduce the grade earned during the semester.

Research Writer Advice

One of the most common mistakes in research papers is developing a thesis statement. Some research papers have no thesis at all or the thesis is too general about the subject. A question the essay writer should ask, "Does the thesis make clear the points I want to cover in this essay?" If the question is no, then carefully rephrase the thesis. Most essays can be reduced to a single sentence. The thesis is simply a statement summing up what you plan to research. A good thesis statement will usually include the take or opinion on the subject as it expresses one main idea and asserts the writer's conclusions about the topic.

Another common error of students in writing research papers is failing to plan the main points. A great way to avoid this mistake is to outline the paper with at least three main points and secondary points to be included under them. Plan for transitional phrases to keep the research paper flowing smoothly.

Failure to present evidence is one of the most common mistakes made in research papers. While there are three ways to present evidence, often students do not think about the evidence they are giving in relationship to the primary points of the research paper. Choosing and supporting three main points is a vital part of a research paper. The materials from sources should make the points of the essay strong. Use quotes but do not overuse long quotes. When a quote is taken from a source, it is important to use the exact words that appear in the original. Use quotation marks with these and cite the works either with MLA, APA, or other citation form. Do not mix what you have to say with quotes or sources without giving citations in the paragraph and in a works cited page. Often misunderstanding of different concepts can lead to plagiarism, which has serious consequences. The best way to prevent this is to write quotes on note cards with the source listed. Write a quotation with the exact words written while a paraphrase is your own words expressing the thoughts of a source. The citation must be noted with quotes and paraphrases.

Poor support and development of ideas are common errors in writing research papers. However, a mistake many students make in writing research papers is failing to proofread the research paper. Every research paper should have several revisions made before turning the final research paper into the instructor. Bad paragraphs are common errors of students. The paragraphs fail to have strong organization or the strong support that leads to a poor research paper. Every research paper should be proofread to make sure the thesis statement is not too general or too narrow and stated with clear emphasis on the research. The next step in review is to determine if the organization of the paper gives a clear sense of direction leading to the final analysis of the research and thesis. Often students fail to have their research papers read for any grammar or spelling errors. While these may sound like small problems, they are serious to the instructor.

Preventing common errors often takes a little time from the students. Begin by asking some questions concerning the research paper. Is the thesis clearly stated? Does the introduction paragraph have a strong hook? Does the essay flow smoothing from paragraph to paragraph? Are the arguments clear and backed with evidence? Are there grammar or punctuation errors? Answering these questions is an important part in writing a quality research paper.