Any information that doesn’t fit within the framework of your outline, and doesn’t directly support your thesis statement, no matter how interesting, doesn’t belong in your research paper. Keep your focus narrow and avoid the kitchen sink approach. (You know, the one where you throw in every bit of interesting research you uncovered, including the fungal growth in the U-joint of your kitchen sink?) Everything you learn may be fascinating, but not all of it is going to be relevant to your paper.
A research paper is different from a research proposal (also known as a prospectus), although the writing process is similar. Research papers are intended to demonstrate a student’s academic knowledge of a subject. A proposal is a persuasive piece meant to convince its audience of the value of a research project. Think of the proposal as the pitch and the paper as the finished product.
Research paper body is where your outline will come in handy. As you’re writing, remember that your outline isn’t meant to be a prison—it’s a guideline to keep you on track. Your paper may evolve, so keep it fluid, but do remember to stay focused on your thesis statement and proving your points. Don’t let your sources organize your paper! Organize first and use your sources as they become relevant. Consider the Rule of Three. Find supporting arguments for each point you make, and present a strong point first, followed by an even stronger one, and finish with your strongest point.
Although it may seem counter-intuitive, writing your introduction first may be more difficult to accomplish than starting with the meat of your paper. Starting by writing the main points (focusing on supporting your thesis) allows you to slightly change and manipulate your ideas and commentary.
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