How To Write a Research Paper: The Quote and Comment Method

Have you ever found yourself aimlessly wandering through your midterm or final paper? Just writing and writing and typing and writing and typing some more of whatever comes to your mind that may be tangentially related to the topic, until ultimately you realize that you’ve just written a seemingly endless run-on sentence, but you add a conjunction and type some more pointless words that don’t say much of anything, and you keep going because, hey, a word count’s a word count, and you’ve gotta hit that page minimum…

Please, allow me to let you in on a little professor/teacher secret: If you have no form, structure, or objective as you write your paper, then the reader will pick up on that. Put bluntly, if you don’t know where you’re going in your paper, then neither will your professor. As a result, she’s likely to get bored, or worse, frustrated, while reading, and that is certainly not how you want the person assigning grades to feel while reading your work.

But no worries; we’ve got you covered! Indeed, the “How to Write a Research Paper” series will give simple, yet effective, tips to writing superior term papers.

Today’s post will focus on one type of research paper: The Quote and Comment.

For Part I of our “How to Write a Research Paper” series we’re going to focus on writing a paper for a topic you don’t know much about. In other words, the following paper-writing strategy is especially effective for those times when you have a general topic or idea for your paper, but as you start writing you aren’t exactly sure what point you want to prove, and/or you simply want to use your paper to learn more about a particular subject. (My inner nerd actually enjoyed writing these types of papers.)

1. First, search books and articles for interesting facts, quotes, and comments about your topic.

2. Second, list those facts, quotes, or opinions out. (Make sure you cite!)

3. Third, write your own commentary under each fact, quote, or opinion.

4. Next, turn Steps 2 and 3 into full paragraphs. *Add introductory sentences *Include transitional sentences and phrases *Throw in concluding sentences.

5. Bring it all together by adding an introduction and conclusion to your paper.

6. Proof read before submitting!

If you’re struggling to reach the page or word minimum, go back to Step 1 and find some more pertinent facts, quotes, and opinions that you can comment on. Then, using smooth transitions, add another section to your paper (based on the interesting facts or quotes you just found).

If you’re over the page limit, cut back a bit on your commentary, paraphrase long quotes, or remove one of the facts, quotes, or opinions (from Step 2) that you’re commenting on.

Need personalized, one-on-one guidance with your research paper? Then check out our research paper consulting services.

Wishing you all the best in your academic pursuits.

The path to academic excellence should not be a secret.

-Angel Everett, Esq.

Founder and CEO, Harvard and Hardship LLC


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