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What is a research essay, and how do I write one?
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Research essays/papers are detailed essays that are often used as course-end evaluators of knowledge and skill. Research essays are products of detailed research that test your critical thinking and analysis abilities through your evaluation of data and organization of an argument supporting your original idea about a topic. The objective is two-fold. First, a research essay presents previous scholarship and research on the topic. Second, a research essay requires original analysis and evaluation that shows relationships between data and observations as they relate to your idea; this idea is called a thesis.
In other words, for your research essay you will read what has been been said already, perhaps conduct field work to collect original data, form an opinion on a particular aspect of or question on the topic, then show how all the research leads to your conclusion and thesis (or hypothesis). Your objective is to contribute new understanding to the topic within a wider field of study. One key component of a research essay is that you will summarize, paraphrase and quote other scholarship on the topic and cite the author of each idea as you summarize, paraphrase or quote it. Another key component is your original analysis and evaluation of material related to the topic.
The first step in writing a research essay is to compile research. Often, you will go through two rounds of research collection. The first, initial, round will provide the fodder for an opinion to assert on the topic or for raising a question to evaluate about the topic, as research essays may either argue an assertion or evaluate/analyze a question. After you have formed a stance to assert or a question to explore, you may very well need a second round of research to collect more information on your specific topic focus.
The composition of your research essay begins with an Introduction. This includes your thesis assertion or question. An Introduction functions to introduce the topic and its wider field of study; to identify your aim (what) and purpose (why) and means (how); and to present your idea in a thesis. The Introduction is followed by what is called the background section. This is where you provide an overview of previous scholarship on the topic. This section may require more length than your original analysis and evaluation of documentation.
Next follows your presentation of your arguments supporting your thesis, one argument to a paragraph. This is where you show off your analysis of your research material and where you make convincing cases for how each argument you present proves your thesis. You will present primary and secondary sources and correctly document each statement with a correct author citation. The evaluation section that follows your argumentation allows you to address what you see as weaknesses, strengths or biases in your research sources.
Your Conclusion is your final statement. It reiterates the thesis assertion you have made or question you have asked. It clearly states how you have proven or explored this and it summarizes your end results. For a final touch, you will make an observation of the relevance of your thesis; the applicability of it; or further study or analysis that is needed on it.
Posted by kplhardison on September 25, 2012 at 6:49 PM (Answer #1)
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