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In the Homestretch: Tips to Finishing Your Research Paper Strongly

There are a few easy steps you should take before actually submitting it to ensure it's in tip-top shape.

Tiffany Sorenson, Varsity Tutors' Contributor

November 03, 2015

In the Homestretch: Tips to Finishing Your Research Paper Strongly
As you conclude the last sentence of your closing paragraph, you may think you are all finished with your research paper. However, there are a few easy steps you should take before actually submitting it. First, take some time away from the paper and return to it once your eyes and brain are rested. Next, make sure your sources are of an acceptable quality, and eliminate any you have doubts about.

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Finally, if conceivable, have one or two people look at your paper and provide constructive criticism. These three practices can make the difference between an A and a B on your paper! Review them in more detail below:

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1. Revisit your paper with a fresh set of eyes

It is always best to come back to your research paper after taking a significant break. Take a nap, work out, or have a relaxing, hearty meal. Whatever you do, make sure you spend at least a half hour away from your computer. Then, revisit your paper with a fresh set of eyes. You might be surprised at the typos and gaps in logic you may have missed during your previous writing session.

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Sometimes, the eyes get exhausted and skip over tiny details that can make a big difference in comprehension. An important point to remember is that spell-check doesn’t catch everything; you must use your own discretion when you edit your research paper. For example, both the words “form” and “from” are spelled correctly, but have different meanings and usages. As such, spell-check will not find an error in the phrase, “a scholar form Russia,” since “form” is an English word. However, in this context, “form” is clearly a typo. Beware of these sorts of mistakes as you read over your research paper for the final time.

2. Double-check your sources

With research papers, having credible and properly cited sources is imperative. Always assume your teacher will take the extra steps to verify that your sources are real and contain the specific information you reference in your paper. As such, you should double-check that authors’ names, titles, years of publication, volume numbers, etc., are all accurate. If you cite websites in your research paper, click on the links to ensure they still work. It is not uncommon for certain websites to go defunct. Moreover, reconsider which sources you want to include in your research paper. If you feel that some of them contain questionable or outdated information, follow your instinct: omit the source altogether or choose a different one. Some indications of poor-quality sources are spelling errors, biased opinions, overly generalized statements, and unspecified authors.

3. Ask for a second and/or third opinion

When it comes to research papers, getting outside opinions can be an extremely helpful technique for improving one’s arguments and writing. Oftentimes, a student knows exactly what he or she is trying to express, but it does not always translate neatly or logically on paper. If possible, ask a trusted friend, family member, or mentor to critique your research paper on the basis of structure, grammar, and content. It is even better if you can show your paper to more than one person. With this step, it is absolutely critical to keep an open mind. Try not to get defensive when others find faults in your research paper. Remember that peer review is meant to improve your paper. To make the most of your time, only pass your paper along to those whose advice you truly value and take seriously. As you prepare to turn in your research paper, do not disregard the value of the editing! Sometimes you make the most beneficial changes at the end of the writing process. With a healthy break, source-checking, and outside advice, you can be well on your way to a stellar essay. Tiffany Sorensen is a professional tutor and contributing writer with Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized experiences to accelerate academic achievement.

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