How to Get the Best Mark for Your Academic Research Paper

  • Give yourself plenty of time. If you really care about your grade, you’ll give yourself all the time you need to write your paper. That means at least a week – more, if possible. You’ll want to dedicate a few days to researching, a few days to planning, a few days to writing, and at least one day to editing. Teachers know when an essay has been written at the last minute, because those essays just aren’t as good as essays that have been worked on for weeks!
  • Develop your thesis statement. Your thesis statement may be the most important sentence in your paper, and having a good thesis statement can boost your grade immediately. Spend at least an hour or two just on your thesis statement, and make sure that it’s clear, concise, coherent, and tells the reader everything they need to know about the paper they’re about to read.
  • The more sources, the better. A research paper is, obviously, based on research. Your teacher wants to see that you can effectively read and interpret sources to prove a point. The more sources you use, the more impressed your teacher will be by your research skills. Plus, the more sources you have that back up your argument, the stronger your argument will be! Shoot for at least three or four sources, and make sure that all your sources are reputable (hint: Wikipedia is not a reputable source!) One way to find new sources quickly and easily is to look at the works cited or bibliography of an article, book, or study that you’re already using. It will provide you with similar content that will also support your argument.
  • Use an outline. An outline can help you keep your ideas in order so that you don’t end up getting ahead of yourself in your paper. A good paper can be overshadowed by a sloppy structure, so having an outline to keep your paper clear and uncluttered can be a grade saver!
  • Be concise. Don’t use overly flowery language, repeated words, or lengthy explanations of unnecessary details. They might add bulk to your paper, but they’ll take away from the readability and actual content. Look out for times when you use similar words in a row: for example, if you were to write something like “the evidence makes it clear that this is a unique and original phenomenon”, you could delete either “unique” or “original” because they mean the same thing.
  • Edit. Spend at least a day editing your paper for grammar, spelling, syntax, and structure. Make sure you dot all your i’s and cross all your t’s. A great paper can be undone by rampant errors, so don’t let your amazing ideas and thoughts get bulldozed by your sloppy writing! You’ll be amazed at how many little details you can fix during editing that make your paper a million times better and more professional.