A research paper is an expanded essay that presents your own interpretation or evaluation or argument. When you write an essay, you use everything that you personally know and have thought about a subject. When you write a research paper you build upon what you know about the subject and make a deliberate attempt to find out what experts know. A research paper involves surveying a field of knowledge in order to find the best possible information in that field. And that survey can be orderly and focused, if you know how to approach it. Do not worry--you would not get lost in a sea of sources.
The introduction is, in many respects, the conclusion written in reverse: start by generally introducing the larger topic, then orient the reader in the area you’ve focused on, and finally, supply the thesis statement. Avoid repeating exact phrases that you already used in the conclusion.
Your thesis should express the main idea of your paper without listing all of your reasons or outline your entire paper. It should be a simple statement, rather than a list of support; that’s what the rest of your paper is for!
When you outline your main ideas, putting them in a specific order is important. Place your strongest points at the beginning and end of your essay, with more mediocre points placed in the middle or near the end of your essay.
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