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Research Papers

What are the four stages in writing a research paper and what is the purpose of each component?


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I would say that the four stages are Prewriting, Research, Drafting, and Revising. Prewriting is for planning your paper... questions you want to answer in your paper, ideas for what it is about, brainstorming about topics, trying to see if you have enough ideas to sustain the research process and fill your paper. You could mind map or outline or come up with a bunch of ideas that you want to research and then decide... Researching is where you find more out about the topic. You find answers to the questions you are asking. You find out what a topic is about, and you keep notes about each source so that you can properly cite your sources and not plagiarize when you use this material in your paper. It might be library research or face-to-face research, or online research... but the idea is to gather information. This is where you sometimes find that you have to narrow your topic because there is too much information, or broaden it because there is not enough. Drafting is where you try to bring all the ideas together and organize them for presentation to someone else. It is the writing part, where you put it all on paper and see how it looks. Revising is the part that most people skip, but it is one of the most important parts. No paper is done after the first draft. After you write the draft, you have to have someone else look at it. Reading it out loud to someone else sometimes help you see it another way. Or reading it backwards... reading the last paragraph first and then going up... helps you to see if your paragraphs fit where they are or whether they should be moved around, rewritten, or deleted completely. This is where you make sure you are presenting a balanced viewpoint, or whether you are one-sided. You take time to step back and see what you wrote objectively, and make improvements. Drafting and Revising should be repeated as needed... and even researching can be repeated if you need additional material. :)