Students often find themselves in a mad rush to look up information for their essay topic. One way to relieve this pressure is to simply better acquaint oneself with the topic through some light, casual reading before deciding on a point of view that can help discern which pieces of information should be used or left out of the essay.
Writing can essay can be easy – even fun – if student is willing to take the time to understand and work the process of essay-writing. By becoming aware of some basic tips on writing essays and following a few simple rules, writing assignments – and the research required to complete them – can be a rewarding academic experience.
The Importance of Research
High-quality research usually translates to a high-quality essay; good information and a solid understanding of the essay topic endows the student with the material necessary to build a strong essay outline which in turn can be used to write convincing essay paragraphs. And, as with all writing projects, it begins with the word.
Beginning with a Keyword Search
Start out by looking for some keywords and phrases commonly associated with the topic. These words can often provide small clues of what the topic is about and can be easily found by reading subject headings, tables of content or through a Google search.
Expanding on Keywords
Take the keywords and do a little more exploring. Use them to conduct a more comprehensive search online or in the library. Look at the topic from the perspective of each keyword; try out each angle in order to become better acquainted with the subject. Keep it casual – the “real” research will come soon enough.
Nurturing an Interest for the Essay Topic
The research phase is a good opportunity for students to find something interesting about their essay topic. Keep exploring until a genuine interest develops so that when it comes time to write, words and ideas will flow more naturally. Although writing a formal essay is nowhere near writing blog or journal, students fair better when they take an interest in what they are writing about.
Developing a “Proto-Thesis Statement”
An opinion or point of view will begin to emerge after having spent some time exploring the topic. Consider this opinion to be the “first draft” of the essay’s thesis statement. Research material, from this point, will be filtered through this point of view, but keep in mind that one’s opinions may change as more information is gathered.
Filtering Remaining Research Through Thesis Statement
Begin doing some formal research. Limit the information gathered to the scope of the thesis statement. Does the information support or challenge the thesis statement? Is the information relevant to the thesis statement in any way? Make sure the information gathered is organized for easy access and understanding; reference information should also be recorded for material to be cited later on.
Enough Information for an Outline?
Create an essay outline and include three main ideas that support the thesis statement. Arrange the information gathered with respect to these ideas. Is there enough information? Can the thesis statement be adequately proved? If not, go back and look for some more information.
Any “research blues” can be mitigated by taking a casual approach to compiling information for the essay. Forming an opinion early on helps students organize their search more effectively because it allows them to make informed choices regarding which information is relevant to their topic. After the information has been compiled, a rough essay outline can act as the final litmus test to determine whether more information is required to produce a well-written essay.