One sign of a paper that is not sufficiently developed is that it is organized by source rather than by the author's main ideas:
- First Source
- Second Source
- Third Source
- and so on
A well-developed research paper is organized point by point.
- It is focused on your thesis.
- It uses parts of the sources to support parts of the thesis.
- It uses multiple sources in a single section, because it is drawing ideas and information from various places to support an original idea.
- The same sources will be cited repeatedly in different sections, because different facts or ideas from those sources are relevant to different points you want to make.
First major point to support the thesis
- Use a hook to get the reader's interest
- State the question, with necessary background info
- State your answer to the question (your thesis, the point you will try to prove)
Second major point needed to support the thesis
- Here you might use part of Source #1 to provide statistics
- Part of Source #2 to provide an interpretation of those statistics
- Part of Source #3 to provide some other facts you need for this major point
- You'll also add your own perspective, tying all these parts together into the single point you want to prove
- Here you might use a different part of Source #2 to provide some other statistics
- Part of Source #4 to provide some other facts
- Part of Source #5 to provide an interpretation of those facts
- Part of Source #1 to provide a different interpretation
- Here too you'll tie all these parts together into the single point you want to prove
And so on for all the points you need to prove to prove the thesis. The Research paper focuses on your own thesis, and uses the sources as needed to provide support for the thesis.
A good rule of thumb: Most paragraphs in the Research paper should cite more than one source. If your paper typically cites only one source per paragraph, thats a sign that the paper should be re-organized.
Think of a car engine: when we do critique (as in the Literature Review), we're not driving the car (what you do normally when you read). Instead, we're popping the hood and taking the engine apart to see how it's made and find the broken pieces. Now, with the final research paper, you've got ten or more engines in front of you, and you're pulling them apart, taking pieces from one and pieces from another and putting them together into a new engine, one you build yourself. Don't just present the reader with one engine and then another and then another. Build your own, single engine from the parts of the others.