4 Tricks for Writing a Research Analysis Paper

A research analysis paper combines two skills that are essential for academic success: the ability to do good research, (finding good sources on a particular topic and synthesizing them into a coherent idea), and the ability to think critically about a topic. Many students entering college have not quite developed these abilities to the degree they are required to demonstrate in a research analysis paper, and become overwhelmed. The good news is that the principles for writing a good paper are simple and applicable to any topic you can think of. Here are tips that will help you when writing your paper:

  1. Write about something you care about. If you get to pick your own topic, do it on what you are most interested in, and not on what you think will impress the professor. The more interested you are in a topic, the more interesting the paper will be. If the topic is chosen for you, try to find some angle that makes the topic more interesting. A neat trick is that you don’t have to love what you’re writing about, as long as you have strong feelings. Say you hated a particular text that you’re assigned to write about. Don’t try to pretend it was great just because it was assigned to you. Trust your own reaction, and make your dislike the driving force behind your paper by trying to find out why you reacted that way.
  2. Have a strong thesis. A good thesis should be clear, concise, and arguable. You have to make an argument for your thesis, so this is no place to be vague or wishy-washy. One simple way to have a strong thesis is to be deliberately controversial. Try taking an established opinion and argue the exact opposite. Just remember that you need evidence.
  3. Brainstorm and free-write. In the pre-writing stage, everything can still be thrown out, so just write down all of your thoughts, ideas, and impressions, no matter how incomplete or silly they might seem. The best way to come up with good ideas is simply to come up with a lot of them. It’s often helpful to combine ideas.
  4. Be an active reader. This involves writing down your impressions as you read, highlighting important passages, looking up anything you don’t know, and re-reading (and re-reading and re-reading).  Write in the margins as you read.