Online College Courses for Credit

3 Tutorials that teach Parts of a Research Essay and Planning for Research
Take your pick:
Parts of a Research Essay and Planning for Research

Parts of a Research Essay and Planning for Research

Author: Gavin McCall

This lesson teaches the additional parts of a research paper and how to plan for research, including fulfilling the assignment requirements.

See More
Fast, Free College Credit

Developing Effective Teams

Let's Ride
*No strings attached. This college course is 100% free and is worth 1 semester credit.

28 Sophia partners guarantee credit transfer.

286 Institutions have accepted or given pre-approval for credit transfer.

* The American Council on Education's College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE Credit®) has evaluated and recommended college credit for 26 of Sophia’s online courses. Many different colleges and universities consider ACE CREDIT recommendations in determining the applicability to their course and degree programs.


Video Transcription

Download PDF

Welcome to English Composition. I'm Gavin McCall. Thanks for joining me. What are we going to learn today? We're going to learn about the tasks writers perform in writing an academic research essay. We'll talk about the parts of a research essay and the importance for having a plan for your research as well as how to know when enough research is enough. We'll close with a quick discussion about how to read and respond to the assignments that instigate so many of the research essays we're likely to write in college.

It's a common term, but still, we should begin our exploration into writing research essays by defining it, just to make sure we're all on the same page. A research essay is any essay that uses research, both primary and secondary, as evidence for its claims or points. In an academic context, research essays generally require the expression of new knowledge and usually also a thesis driven by an argument.

That being said, most teachers and readers will not expect new knowledge from writers at the level of beginning English composition, but that's no reason not to try for it. As for the structure of your research essay, there are several elements that are generally required and almost always expected. A research paper should include an introduction with a thesis as well as body paragraphs that include support and a conclusion.

When making an outline for a research paper, a large part of it should be devoted to planning out how the essay will incorporate its research. Many research papers will need to include an abstract, which is a high-level summary of the essay. It all depends on the assignments requirements and the documentation style on which it will be written. Research paper should include outside research. You could also include independent research and analysis. Research conducted by the writer, that is.

But more common, especially in fields like composition and the humanities in general, our documentation of sources of evidence presented both in the body of the essay as in-text citations and in a reference page. And to top it all off, a research paper will also include the same writing challenges as any other essay with an additional emphasis on not stealing other writers ideas or words, adequately documented sources, and accurately representing other people's ideas and research. Keeping these priorities in mind will help avoid plagiarism and promote ethical research and writing.

Since research is obviously a big part of the writing process for any research essay, it's important to plan for this during the writing process. As we'll remember, this is a recursive process, which includes the steps of brainstorming, pre-writing, thesis generation, researching, drafting, revising, editing, and proofreading. This process will need to shift to accommodate the differences and purpose when writing a research paper, and so the first steps, namely brainstorming, pre-writing, thesis generation, and research, play an even bigger part than would otherwise be required.

When planning the early drafts of an essay, it's important to think about what kind of research will need to be done, including original research, like lab experiments, analysis, surveys, and that kind of thing or using other people's research and writing. It's also important to think how to use whatever research you find to support your thesis and how to grapple with it if you disagree with its point or if it refutes your thesis.

Writers of a research paper should plan to spend extra time on the assignment in order to conduct research and to organize sources of information, which include recording the bibliographic information, authors titles, publication and the publication dates, and then, of course, extra time should be allocated to actually incorporate the research into the essay itself.

One thing that may writers new to research don't know is that the value of the source of information includes finding other sources to look at and other ideas to consider. Experienced researchers, meanwhile, know that they're likely to find more information on the subject then just what's in a particular source. From the sources the text itself uses to other related subjects brought up by it, responsible researchers know how to remain open to unexpected research paths.

The simple fact is that no matter what your subject or topic, the academic conversations rounding it will be expansive, and there will always be more research to do. So keep in mind that needing to do more research is not an excuse for procrastination, rather it's a good idea to acknowledge the limits of one's research or to discuss other directions further investigation could go usually in the essay itself. This will help build credibility for the writer, and it can even relieve some of the strain that comes from feeling like you have to be an expert on everything related to your topic.

In general, however, if you find that during your research process, you're either unable to start writing without research more or that you have too much research to write about, the chances are your research question, and probably your thesis, are too broad.

One of the most important skills for writers of research essays is learning how to read and use the assignment and guidelines for the essay. This will help the writer make sure that the argument and purpose are in line with the requirements of the class as well as the driving force for the essay. This can also help keep the research from becoming too overwhelming.

Teachers will often limit the number and kind of sources that can be used or require a certain number of sources or different kinds of sources, and they usually have a specific formatting style required for everything written in the course. In this kind of situation, the research process itself becomes part of the assignment, so students should avoid risking being penalized for not adhering to the assignment's research requirements.

What did we learn today? We learned about research essays, what they entail, and how writers should plan the research as well as how to know how much research is required and how to incorporate the requirements of an assignment into the research process. I'm Gavin McCall. Thanks for joining me.

Terms to Know
Research Essay

An essay that uses research, both primary and secondary, as evidence for its claims or points.