An Analytic Research Paper: Pre-writing Steps

Writing an analytic research paper is a great deal of work since it requires more than just to formulate a thesis statement and write your thoughts about it. Apart from these things, you must find sources, select data, which are relevant to the topic and support your position, analyze them, and finally, create a paper with personal comments and interpretations. Eventually, it should be a coherent, well-structured, and insightful text. To ease this complicated process, you may take a couple of steps that will definitely help you to write a research paper of the highest quality.

Analyze Your Assignment

This simple piece of advice will turn out to be unexpectedly effective if you try. It implies studying the question that you have been given by your professor. You should read it and scrupulously analyze each word. Underline or highlight every verb that spurs you to take some actions, for example, “discuss,” “compare and contrast,” “explain reasons,” “evaluate,” etc. They signify the kind of activity that you lecturer wants you to do and show what exactly he/she will assess. Furthermore, if your assignment is not clear to you even after careful consideration and analysis, you should consult the tutor. When it comes to academic papers, guessing does not work. You should know precisely what is expected from you. Otherwise, the failure is inevitable.

For you to understand the point better, let us analyze a made-up task to write an analytic research paper: “Not so long time ago, the world was on the brink of another war in the Persian Gulf. At some point, it could have been avoided. Nevertheless, several events took place that made the escalation of the conflict inescapable. One of them was the lack of unanimity in the houses of Congress when the question of military forces usage was concerned. These heated debates continue today especially because the military action seemingly did not bring the desired results. Evaluate the effectiveness of the decision made by the Congress and President Bush. Discuss whether other options, for instance, stringent economic sanctions, would assist in keeping peace in the region and opposing the aggressor. Write a paper of 13-15 double-spaced pages strongly relying on scholarly sources, i.e., books, journal articles, and governmental reports. Steer clear of newspaper articles and Wikipedia.

As you read through the task, you can see that the first part of it is just a context. Then, there is actually the task that starts with the imperative verbs, i.e., “discuss,” “evaluate,” “write,” etc. Other keywords set the boundaries that should not be crossed over in the process of writing. There are also format requirements as well as specification regarding literature to be used. All these components should be considered when searching for pertinent sources and actually writing the paper.

Draft a Thesis Statement

Now, you need to make up your mind regarding the use of military forces by the US in the Persian Gulf. For the sake of illustration, let us imagine that you support the idea of deploying weapon and consider that nothing else could be as effective as armed encounters. Your arguments might be that the use of military forces: a) had an immediate effect; b) not only helped to fight aggressor but also allowed to assist the neighboring countries; c) enabled depriving Iraq of the mass destruction weapon; d) served as a deterring example for other aggressive countries and organizations.

Each of these arguments will require extensive discussion that could not be fitted in the 15-pages long paper. So, you should shortlist them and decide what specifically you want to talk about. You should select a focus, for example, a political (points b and d), military (points c and d), or economic one (point a). Then, you must formulate a thesis statement that shows the way your paper will be developed, for example, “Even if the decision to use military force to fight Iraq was not flawless, it was the most appropriate the option since it allowed to prevent potential military actions by destroying mass destruction weapon and demonstrating the US military power to other aggressors.”

Polish Your Thesis Statement

If you reached this point with a formulated thesis statement, you have done a considerable amount of work. Now, the time has come to work on improving the thesis statement. You should read the pertinent literature and search for evidence to estimate whether your main argument is provable. Unbelievably, the analysis of sources may lead to the situation when all your ideas are refuted by the experts in this field. Therefore, carefully evaluate your evidence in order to decide whether your thesis may be proved or you need to do some more brainstorming to come up with other arguments.

Do not get frustrated if you find a lot of literature on the same topic with scholars being not able to reach consensus. Such a controversy is a great advantage for you meaning that there are solid grounds to support both positions. If you examine such a topic as the one used as an example, you are likely to come across a huge number of publications. Do not attempt to use them all. Evaluate the authority of the author and publishing information. If the article seems to be helpful, but it comes from a newspaper, you cannot rely on it fully. Reliable and credible articles can be found in professional or scholarly peer-reviewed journals. You might be willing to use some primary sources as well, for instance, governmental reports or the information provided by the participants or eyewitnesses of the event.

Now, considering the evidence that you have found, read your thesis statement again and make the adjustments if necessary. If you have changed your mind, just replace it. If you have discovered a claim that is stronger than one of your arguments, use it. Yes, it might be tough to change the initial concept of the paper. However, such flexibility will definitely ensure you a high grade.