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HAC/Library Academic Support Series: Approaching Writing With Research (12/2)

Table of Contents

I. Outlining

II. Introductory Paragraphs

III. Integrating your Research

IV. Research Paper Examples

V. Sample Research Papers

V. Style and Citation Guides Link


Why should I create an outline?

Outlining helps you to keep track of lots of information and ensure that you are utilizing your research in the most effective way and at the right points in your paper.  It gives you an easier way of envisioning the entire research paper and helps keep you on task as you construct your paper paragraph by paragraph.


How do I create an outline?

There are many strategies for creating outlines but here are a few to consider:

1. Basic version via Purdue Online Writing Lab: 

  • Brainstorm: List all the ideas that you want to include in your paper.
  • Organize: Group related ideas together.
  • Order: Arrange material in subsections from general to specific or from abstract to concrete.
  • Label: Create main and subheadings.

2. Step-by-step version via LibGuides at Georgia Tech Library: HERE



Integrating Research/Sources

How do I integrate my research into my paper?

Simply put, integrating your research/sources refers to incorporating the writing, research, and ideas of others in your paper as you seek to strengthen your credibility and improve your argument.

There are three main ways of integrating sources into your paper:

1. Quote: Any time you use the exact wording found in a source it needs to be "quoted." Use only when the source has written something in an interesting or distinctive way.

According to Graff et al, quotes lend “...a tremendous amount of credibility to your summary and helps ensure that it is fair and accurate” (42). Incorporating quotes help you prove you have read and understood the conversation surrounding your topic.

2. Paraphrase: Paraphrasing puts an excerpt from a source into your own words, rephrasing but not shortening it. Paraphrase when a quote won’t quite fit into the grammar or tone of your own writing.

Example (using quote above):
According to Graff et al, quotes can bolster your ethos and provide proof that you are representing other authors correctly (42).

3. Summarize: Summarizing boils a text down to its essential points. It is especially useful for incorporating other authors’ big ideas without sacrificing too much space in your own writing. 

In their chapter, “The Art of Summarizing,” Graff et al underscore the importance of properly representing a source while connecting it to your particular argument (37).  

Each way of integrating a source has a special application, but they all help strengthen your argument and prove you have done your research!

Remember to Analyze/Discuss:

It isn't enough to simply include research.  Unless you are asked specifically to only provide an overview, nearly all research papers will want you to analyze/discuss the research you've just included.  As such, each body paragraph shouldn't end with the research, but rather be followed up with at least 2-3 sentences that unpack/analyze/discuss the research.  Why is it significant?  What does it show?  What does it suggest?  How does it engage with your thesis and topic sentence?  Your answer to one or more of these questions should immediately follow the research at the end of each body paragraph.

Work Cited

Graff, Gerald et al. They Say / I Say: The Moves That Matter In Academic Writing, With Readings. 3rd ed,  W.W. Norton, 2015

Introductory Paragraph

What is the goal of an introductory paragraph?

The goal of an introduction is to set up your ideas and prepare the reader to hear your point. A good thesis will carry the weight of the introduction, it should be specific, concise, and arguable. Your introduction should also include background or research relevant to your topic, especially when research is a prime component of your essay. 


Remember that your introduction is your first impression. This is a good spot to catch your reader's attention, to make them realize why your topic is important and worth reading. Hook your readers using an engaging question, quote, story, or statistic.  


Creating your introductory paragraph - a guide


Issues to keep in mind that will help the narrative flow in your introduction:

  • Your introduction should clearly identify the subject area of interest. A simple strategy to follow is to use keywords from your title in the first few sentences of the introduction. This will help focus the introduction on the topic at the appropriate level and ensures that you get to the primary subject matter quickly without losing focus, or discussing information that is too general.

  • Establish context by providing a brief and balanced review of the pertinent published literature that is available on the subject. The key is to summarize for the reader what is known about the specific research problem before you did your analysis. This part of your introduction should not represent a comprehensive literature review but consists of a general review of the important, foundational research literature (with citations) that lays a foundation for understanding key elements of the research problem. See the drop-down tab for "Background Information" for types of contexts.

  • Clearly state the hypothesis that you investigated. When you are first learning to write in this format it is okay, and actually preferable, to use a past statement like, "The purpose of this study was to...." or "We investigated three possible mechanisms to explain the...."

  • Why did you choose this kind of research study or design? Provide a clear statement of the rationale for your approach to the problem studied. This will usually follow your statement of purpose in the last paragraph of the introduction.