Writing Guide | Department of Anthropology

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Writing Guide

The Steps to Writing a Research Paper


1. Select a general topic


2. Research the selected topic


3. Evaluate your resources


4. Read!


5. Define/Refine Your Topic and Develop Your Thesis

Thesis - An arguable statement put forth for discussion and proof.

  • A thesis should be a strong, original idea, claim, or argument.
  • A thesis is normally found in the introduction of a paper.
  • A thesis informs the reader of the purpose of your paper.
  • A thesis should be specific, not broad or vague. Avoid vague terms like "good" or "bad."
  • A thesis should analyze, not summarize.
  • A thesis will tie together all the ideas of your paper.

6. Re-read with an eye on the thesis


7. Develop Supporting Ideas and Arguments

Make sure the content of your papers is relevant tyour argument. Read carefully and cut or revise parts of your paper that don't support your argument.


8. Types of Supporting Ideas and Arguments

  • Data from a Research Project
    If you conducted a project, present summaries of the data you collected, and relevant examples.
  • Facts & Figures
    Information about your topic that has been collected by other agencies or researchers
  • Statistics
    These are not as central tanthropology as some other fields, but they can still greatly strengthen your arguments.
  • Authorities (Quotes from Experts)
    You must establish the credentials of the authorities before their quotes are persuasive and credibility tthe argument.
  • Textual Evidence
    Supporting information from texts.
  • Historical Background

9. Take notes


10. Organize notes


11. Develop an Outline

An outline is key the organization of your paper. See the Purdue University guide for developing outlines at http://owl.english.purdue.edu/handouts/general/gl_outlin.html


12. Write a Draft

When writing a draft, make sure to reference the Chicago Manual of Style.
Please note that this requires the Adobe Acrobat Reader.

The Writing Lab at Purdue University provides thorough information on writing a research paper see below for assistance with particular parts of a draft:


13. Avoid Plagiarism

Plagiarism may be defined as the following:

  • Using the exact words or phrases of a source without proper quotation marks both before and after the words or phrases.
  • Using the exact words or phrases or the ideas of a source without proper documentation in APA style.
  • Using slightly changed words or phrases of a source tavoid quotation.
  • Submitting a paper that in any way represents the words, phrases, or ideas of someone else as your own.
  • Submitting a paper that you did not write.

This definition of plagiarism was written by the English Faculty at Weatherford College.


14. Citing Works Within a Paper

When citing works within a paper, make sure to reference the Chicago Manual of Style
Please note that this requires the Adobe Acrobat Reader.


15. Write a Works Cited or Bibliography

When writing a Works Cited or Bibliography, make sure to reference the Chicago Manual of Style
Please note that this requires the Adobe Acrobat Reader.

When using APA style, you may reference APA Formatting and Style Guide at Purdue http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/01/

16. Leave it alone for a couple of days


17. Submit for peer review if possible


18. Revise, revise, and revise!


19. Proofread, Proofread, Proofread!

For an excellent, proofreading checklist, visit the Writing Center at George Mason University Online Handouts, including:

  • 23 Ways to Improve Your Draft
  • Revising
  • Editing Checklist

All available at https://writingcenter.gmu.edu/writing-resources/wc-quick-guides.


If you need assistance writing your research paper, try these UNT Resources

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