Every year, students in high school and college are given the assignment to write a research paper. It doesn’t matter if the project is assigned in a science class, literature class, or history class, students will need to include the same five requirements. These requirements can change subtly based on the formatting style that each instructor assigns.
- Quality sources. No matter what the topic is, you will need to find support that is provided by quality sources. Anytime that students can find primary sources, they will only make their project better. Otherwise, a secondary source can also be good, simply because the secondary source conducts the research and reports on it. The sources need to be from reputable sources from educational institutions, non-profit groups, and others without agendas.
- Proper citations. Large writing projects like this need to have everything properly documented. When the documentation is neglected, there is a chance that you could be accused of plagiarism. This could be damaging to your academic and professional career. This type of project requires precision at all times – especially when you are giving credit where it is due.
- Defendable argument. Research papers tend to be argumentative or persuasive in nature. If there is nothing to defend or argue, then why write the paper. The best papers have arguments that have fascinating arguments and explanations that back them up. The argument should be the answer to a yes or no question and then the paper proves whether you are right or wrong.
- Thorough explanations. This is the meat of the paper. You can include all of the sources that defend your argument as you can find, but how you explain them is the important part of the paper. Instructors want to see how you think about the sources and the argument. This is where they will see that you actually learned something throughout the project. This is the part of the project where you get to insert your voice, too.
- Works cited page. Your instructor might call it a bibliography page or a source page. No matter what the name of the page is, you will need a page with all of the sources that you have used. They will need to be properly formatted based on the style your instructor requires. The sources will need to be listed in alphabetical order and they will all need to appear somewhere in the actual research paper, too.